Late-Spring Highlights

Peonies, lilacs, wisteria, azaleas, and more lovely plants are in bloom in late April through May. Here's what to see.

Tree Peony Collection

These gorgeous flowers bloom in late-April to mid-May. There are around 300 plants in the collection, all Japanese cultivars, and all are fragrant, especially in the morning.

Look for

  • Lavender cultivars ‘Kamada Fuji’ and ‘Fuji no Sato’, which have large blooms with clear, intense color.
  • Huge white ‘Godaishu’ and ‘Tama Usagi’ blossoms. Some are the diameter of dinner plates!
  • Red- and white-streaked ‘Shima Nishiki’ peonies. Bicolored petals are rare in peonies, and each flower’s pattern is unique.

The herbaceous peonies, located in a bed in the Plant Family Collection, are also wonderful in late spring. These peonies are similar to tree peonies but have smaller blossoms, nonwoody stems, and bloom a bit later than tree peonies, usually in late May.

Osborne Garden

This semiformal Italianate garden is in its full glory in late spring. The lush lawn is surrounded by walkways lined with lovely, spring-flowering plants.

Look for

  • Fragrant flowering crabapple trees. Several cultivars, some pink and some white, blossom in late April and into May.
  • Japanese wisteria draping the garden's ten stone pergolas. These graceful vines are hard to miss when in bloom in May and beyond, but also notice the way the woody stems twist around the columns.
  • Vibrant azaleas, blooming in hues of pink, red, and fuchsia.

There are also annuals planted in beds along the Boulder Wall on the western border of the Osborne Garden. Two terraces with benches provide peaceful spots to sit and take in the view.

Lilac Collection

May is the season for lilacs, and the Garden’s 150 specimens, including 20 species and 130 cultivars, don’t disappoint. During peak bloom, their fragrance is intoxicating.

Look for

  • A wide variety of Syringa vulgaris cultivars blooming in mid-May in many different shades of white, purple, and pink.
  • The bicolor cultivar ‘Sensation’. It has stunning purple petals edged with white.
  • The later-blooming, white-blossomed Syringa reticulata species and cultivars. Their fragrance has a spicy character and is less sweet than that of many other lilacs.

Also see

Early roses in the Cranford Rose Garden, mountain laurel and irises in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Spanish bluebells in Bluebell Wood.

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Paeonia suffruticosa 'Kamada Fuji' (Japanese tree peony) in the Tree Peony Collection. Photo by Morrigan McCarthy.
Wisteria floribunda (Japanese wisteria) and azalea cultivars in the Osborne Garden. Photo by Sarah Schmidt.
Syringa vulgaris 'Sensation', a beautiful bicolor lilac, blooms along with 150 other specimens in the Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection at BBG. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
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