Sargent’s Crabapple at the RBG Arboretum

The crabapple trees are blooming now and full of bees!

Sargent's crabapple tree blossoms and honey bee

And they have such a lovely smell.

I didn’t realize that crab apple trees are an important tree for pollinators. They bloom early and continue longer so there is a continuous supply of food. There are also far more species than just honey bees that benefit from this and benefit us. We have over 700 native species of bees in Canada as well as other pollinators like butterflies, moths, wasps, flies, some beetles and hummingbirds.

How can you help our precious pollinators?

Check out the article Pollinator Health to learn about the importance of protecting bees and other pollinators, and the actions you can take to help.

Perhaps you’ll even add a Sargent’s crabapple to your yard.

What’s blooming now at the Arboretum? Lilacs

There are so many beautiful lilacs blooming at the Royal Botanical Gardens Arboretum today. If only pictures could smell!

Katie Osborne Lilac Collection

This collection is named after the wife of Colin Osborne as a memoriam.  There are over 745 plants in the dell and surrounding area making it one of the more diverse lilac collections in the world. Thanks to the informative displays we learned that around 21 different species occur in the wild, originating in Asia and Europe. All those lovely lilacs I saw as a child growing “wild” in the ditches are offspring of imported plants.

Press on any picture to see the full size image.

Color classification is established by the Wister Code, named after John Wister. The color catagories are

  • I. White
  • II. Violet
  • III. Blueish
  • IV. Lilac
  • V. Pinkish
  • VI. Magenta
  • VII. Purple

The flowers are also classified as either Single – with four petals, or, Double – with more than four petals.

So my classification for the lilac below would be D3 (Double, blueish). I’m probably wrong though.

Double blueish lilac at the Katie Osborne Collection, Hamilton

Purple cut leaf lilac at RBG Arboretum, Hamilton
Cut Leaf Lilac

The Cut Leaf Lilac is an unusual variety that I had never seen before. I loved the airy nature of the plant compared to the typical dense lilac bush.

Breeders like Victor Lemoine, Manitoba-born Frank Leith Skinner, and Canada’s first female hybridizer, Isobella Preston, have all contributed to the wide variety of bloom size, shape, color, and, of course, scent. The dell was incredible today with the symphony of colored blossoms and individual perfumes.

More information about color classification and identification can be found on the Royal Botanical Garden website.

Cherry Blossoms and Magnolias at RBG

We found a profusion of magnolia blooms at the RBG Arboretum today.

Bugs on magnoliasMagnolias at RBG ArboretumRBG Arboretum Cherry Blossoms and Magnolias

The cherry blossoms weren’t at their peak by the time we came. Someone mentioned that with all the wind and rain they didn’t last as long this year.

Cherry blossoms at the RBG Arboretum

There were also three different colors of Eastern Redbud blooming. It is considered a native species because of one recorded observation on the south end of Pelee Island in 1892 by the Canadian botanist John Macoun. The species name, canadensis, is the Latin form of Canadian.

Redbud trees blooming at the RBG Arboretum

The Starburst magnolias are definitely our new favorites. This species was introduced to the United States in 1862 by Dr. George Robert Hall. It comes from the Ise Bay area of central Honshū, Japan’s largest island. It has a much more delicate flower that some of the other larger, showy, pink blooms.

Starburst Magnolia

There are also two lovely sycamore trees that have huge branches dipping down and touching the ground. This American sycamore is from the 1940’s when the arboretum was opened.

There is a sycamore tree in Windsor that is 225 years old, with branches that are 120 years old. It has been recognized as an Ontario Heritage Tree. Some sycamores have been known to live 500-600 years.

Forests Ontario has an interactive map where you can search Heritage Trees all over Ontario.