Half A Million Blooms: Come Into Focus

This spring, Newfields will burst into flower with more than 500,000 blooms.

Our team of horticultural experts has designed yet another season of unrivaled color, fragrance, and beauty for you to enjoy. From the earliest crocus to the last of the peonies, you will want to return frequently to admire the countless combinations of colorful and fragrant blooms as they unfold.

We’ve designed our plantings to begin blooming early in the season. Look for the earliest signs of spring in early March. Thousands of netted iris, crocus, hyacinth and early daffodils have been planted all across campus by our team. And as the weather warms, the outdoor displays really begin to swell. Look for the tall, Dr. Seuss-like blooms of the Allium ‘White Giant’ near the Sutphin Fountain and the slate-purple and bell-like flowers of the Persian Fritillary at the front of Lilly House.

On those days when it is still too cold to enjoy the earliest crocus, iris, or hyacinth blooms in The Garden, you can take in the beauty of Orchids. If you haven’t yet seen the stunning orchid displays within the IMA Galleries, don’t miss your chance. Expect to see arrangements that highlight the simple beauty of the plants themselves as well as elaborate, landscape-style displays that draw their inspiration from the masterworks hanging nearby. You can always visit the Orchid Pop-Up shop and take home some of spring's beauty to enjoy.

2019 marks our third Spring Blooms exhibition. I often brag because we have such an amazing horticulture team, and they continue to dream up imaginative and stunning displays year after year. This year alone, we planted yet another 100,000 bulbs. That is a lot of bulbs, let me tell you. While our team is made up of superstars, we could never plant all those bulbs alone. We could not have done it without the help of our amazing garden volunteers, who put in an incredible number of hours helping us prepare the beds, lay out the bulbs, and of course, plant. Aside from our amazing crew of regular garden volunteers, we had the help of some extra hands this year from the FFA. During their annual conference last October, over 100 students joined us for two days. And just in those two days alone the team planted a staggering number of bulbs.

In The Garden, Spring Blooms now includes two bulb displays designed by our horticulture staff in direct response to works from our collection. The exhibition Fashion Redefined: Miyake, Kawakubo, Yamamoto by Niloo Paydar, the curator of textile & fashion arts, includes numerous works that are clearly inspired by nature. Our horticulturists have in turn taken those works and gone back to nature. For example, the ruffled and rich texture of the "Roses and Blood" gown by Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons evokes fully opened roses or double tulips. Chad Franer, The Tom and Nora Hiatt Director of Horticulture, has designed a planting in the Garden for Everyone based on the color and texture of this iconic couture piece. Look for beds with textural combinations of flowers and foliage flowing in varied shades of red and burgundy.

Horticulturist Katie Booth has chosen another dress from Fashion Redefined as her inspiration for the Overlook Garden. Hanae Mori’s floral inspired dress in varying shades of blue, accented with bright pink flowers, will be reimagined as a rolling groundcover of pansies and tulips. To evoke the depth of the colors in the gown, Katie has chosen three varieties of pansies in varying shades of blue, from a rich deep hue to a clear sky blue. Three different types of tulips make up the bold pink accents and will feature peony, parrot and double varieties. (Tulipa ‘Amazing Grace,’ T. ‘Foxtrot,’ and T. ‘Pink Vision.’) All three tulip varieties were chosen not only for their color but also for their staggered bloom timing and the ruffled texture of their many petals.

This design process has been a very fun experience for our horticulture team. Katie Booth says of her spring design, “The tulip types are parrot and double—real flouncy flowers for early, mid- and late spring. There will be random spots of pink flowers coming up out of the sea of blue. It will be quite entertaining to lay out the pansies. I get to create flowers out of flowers surrounding flowers!”

One of the biggest questions people ask us is what happens to all the bulbs after they bloom. The short answer is that nothing is wasted. The more thoughtful answer is that we plant perennial bulbs as much as possible. Daffodils and hyacinth are just a few of the types of bulbs that, when planted in the right location, can thrive and bloom for decades. We tend to add these to areas with permanent summer blooming perennials, so that the emerging perennials will hide the dying bulb foliage. And this way, the bulbs are undisturbed while we dig in other beds to plant annuals.

 We also plant many native, perennial wildflowers each year to enhance our permanent beds. Trillium and Virginia bluebells are two great examples of plants that may not look as impressive their first season since they take a while to establish. We plant these for future years, as they eventually form carpets of color that will be enjoyed for years to come.

To make a bit of a splash while we are patient for the longer-lived plants to take root, we plant our seasonal beds. They are planted with new combinations for spring and then lifted and replanted for summer color as well. This allows for the most colorful and dynamic displays every year. Tulips feature prominently in many of these beds. Many gardeners will tell you that tulips are annuals. They say this because, in our climate, many tulip varieties don’t reliably rebloom as strongly after their first season. We lift those and start with fresh bulbs every year to ensure a strong display. That said, many would continue to bloom beautifully, so rather than compost all of them, they are shared with staff, volunteers, and local community organizations so they can help beautify our community.

Please join us in welcoming the season by coming to visit Spring Blooms. I encourage you to come often to see how it changes. While you are here, don’t forget to grab your favorite beverage from our Beer Garden. Sip along the way, as you take in the beauty of more than 500,000 blooms unfolding throughout the season.

Spring Blooms is presented by Wild Birds Unlimited
Lead support is provided by Charles L. Venable & Martin K. Webb, Meg Coyle, and the R. L. Turner Family.
Additional support provided by Perry & Michelle Griffith, and Total Lawn Care, Inc.

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Don't forget! Newfields is closed during daytime hours on Thanksgiving Day. Newfields will be open in the evening for Winterlights and will reopen during daytime hours on Friday, November 27. Winterlights is sold out Thursday, November 26 through Saturday, November 28.