Smaller Scale Aesculus

The snow continues to melt today and hopefully will be gone by the end of the week with warming temperatures and possible scattered rain throughout the week.  Not much happened out in the gardens today but we had a good crew at the Horticulture Center.  Nancy N., Kay and Pat C. were the “terrific trio” (their words, not mine) and did great job continuing with processing our vegetable labels for the Spring Plant Sale which is only six weeks away!  Check out our website for more information on this annual fundraiser including some plant lists.  We’ll also have a wide range of perennials for both sun and shade, shrubs, compost and other offerings!  Bill O. and Larry worked on some indoor and outdoor projects and Maury ran some errands for us despite needing to be in bed recovering from a bad cold!  Alan M. was in after lunch for some painting duties.  Both Dr. Gredler and Cheryl R. stopped by as well.

This blog is dedicated to two selections of Aesculus which encompasses the horse chestnuts and buckeyes.  We have some nice ones (various species) at the gardens and I’ve seen some spectacular specimens up at Longenecker Gardens at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum (Madison, WI).  The first set of photos promotes the smaller statured red buckeye (Aesculus pavia).  This North American native has a strong spring showing of red bloom clusters with many tubular flowers which are quite attractive to hummingbirds.  The palmately compound, shiny, dark green leaves are nice but may look a bit rough by late summer. The seeds are poisonous and mature height on this small tree is under 20′ tall.  Position this species for maximum spring enjoyment as we have with our two specimens at the gardens.

 blooms just opening up (above)



 specimen at the Chicago Botanic Garden


 specimen at the Chicago Botanic Garden


The bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) is a dense, mounded, suckering mass of color when the blooms arrive on these erect panicles with many tubular white flowers (seen directly above and all the photos below).  The panicles can be 12″-15″ and are quite upright on a plant that can tolerate part shade and shade equally well.  Mature height is around 12′-15′ and keep in mind the spreading nature of this species and dedicate the appropriate amount of space.  Fall color can be a decent yellow but the impact of these flowers in June and July is worth the space on this tough selection.  We have three patches of bottlebrush buckeye at the gardens which look great although we’ll have a day when we decide to not let them take up more space!  Great for pollinators too by the way!