JACKSONTOWN – Dawes Arboretum is providing its early spring tease as the witch-hazel blooms between the snow showers. Witch-hazel is an extremely early blooming bush with bright yellow flowers. It typically blooms in February, but will bloom sooner under unusually warm weather. This winter has seen unusually warm weather, but also record cold. However, Dawes Director of Horticulture Mike Ecker doesn’t believe the extremes in temperatures will significantly affect spring blooms. “I'm not aware of anything else ( bloom i ng) besides witch hazels at the moment,” he said. “Temperature-wise, I don't think spring bloom has been affected except for very tender things that may have gotten blasted by that low temperature bout (in early January). We've gotten complacent over the years and think all our winters should be Zone 6 (plant hardiness zone) and have planted accordingly.”
Something that will be different in the future is Dawes’ Japanese Garden, which is receiving a complete overhaul for its 50th anniversary in 2015. Communications Coordinator Sarah Rice said the Japanese Garden is being remodeled to its original design created almost 50 years ago. The surrounding area is being turned into a Japanese-style upland forest. “So far, we've drained the ponds, reset the enormous stones on the stone bridge walkway, and torn down the meditation house (to be reconstructed),” she said.
Director of Landscape Operations and Grounds Brent Pickering said the new upland forest will have a stream, and a landscape architect is working with Dawes to ensure the forest’s authenticity and beauty. He said the meditation house was the original 50-year-old structure and was in disrepair from wind damage and normal wear and tear. The new one, which should be complete this spring, will be built to the original 1964 specifications. “It’s going to be exactly the same specs as before,” he said.
Pickering said the Japanese Garden would remain closed for remodeling until June, when it will only be open for a short time to accommodate some private events. It will close again in July and reopen spring 2015 in time for its 50th anniversary celebration.