Early Spring at the Lincoln Memorial Garden

Last Friday I stopped to visit Springfield’s Lincoln Memorial Garden on my way out of town. It is one of the few gardens designed by Jens Jensen (a hero of mine) that still retains the essential elements of his plan, which included only plants native to Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky.

There was not much in bloom, though a lot of plants were on the brink. I decided to write a post anyway, taking inspiration from the blog New Hampshire Gardening Solutions. In that blog you can read some fascinating posts taken from walks in the woods where most of us would say there is nothing to see.


Some of the Maples were in flower. I am woefully ignorant on shade trees, but maybe this is a Sugar Maple (Acer saccharinum)?


It was a little bit windy, and I liked watching the flowers blow in the wind against the blue sky.


I had hoped the Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) would be in bloom, but instead the buds were within a few days of opening. That was true of a lot of plants.


No idea what this is, but maybe somebody can provide an ID.


I’m guessing this is a Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia).


These new leaves look like they are humming with energy.


Leftover Sumac berries from last fall.


This 100-acre garden has several creeks crossed with bridges.


Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) were just about the only woodland wildflower that was at peak bloom, and there was a lot of it. We tried growing this at home but it faded away.


Here’s a closer shot. At least this plant got to keep the genus name Dicentra, instead of being forced into Lamprocapnos.


No idea what this is, but its flowers were just about to open.


I think this is False Rue Anemone (Enemion biternatum). There was lots of it, but almost all the flower buds were still closed. The leaves remind me of Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).


These are Great Merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora), one of my favorite woodland wildflowers. Just starting to bloom.


Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) is another favorite – I guess I have a lot of them. Flower buds are starting to take shape.


There were a few patches of Periwinkle (Vinca minor). Too bad it’s an invasive.


Lots and lots Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum), with its leaves that look like poorly designed umbrellas.


These speckled leaves probably belong to Prairie Trillium (Trillium recurvatum). They will bloom later in spring.


The Lincoln Memorial Garden lies along Lake Springfield, with houses on the opposite shore.

May is the last and busiest month of the legislative session, but I’m going to really try to visit the garden at least once more. Can’t wait to see all the spring flowers when they ar eat their peak.

37 Comments on “Early Spring at the Lincoln Memorial Garden”

  1. Thanks for the blog mention. You certainly saw a lot of things!
    I think the maple might be a Norway maple but it’s hard to know for sure. They have large yellow green flowers though.
    I was going to say spring beauty for your tiny unknown flowers but the leaves aren’t right. At least for the eastern spring beauty they aren’t right.
    The speckled leaves are trout lilies.

  2. Wow, I’d say a lot is going on there. It’s always a special time when the spring ephemerals bloom–just before the trees leaf out. The Mayapples look to be at peak–I’ve been told that’s the best time to hunt for morel mushrooms. I’ve never found morels here, but we often find them up at our cottage. Great post!

  3. I loved seeing these photos of plants I rarely or never see, especially the Dutchman’s breeches. Our trees have fully leafed out now, even the laggards like pecans, and a few late spring and early summer flowers are appearing, so it’s fun to have a bit of a “look back” to our own earlier spring.

    Looking is the key, for sure. You might enjoy this little “album” of plants I recently found in a so-called “empty” plot of land. In truth, there isn’t such a thing, and I love posts like this one that help to remind us of that.

  4. Interesting post … I think NH Garden Solution suggested the Maple may be a Norwegian Maple which reminds me that we saw a Norwegian Maple …. wonderful mature tree…..growing in a Botanic Garden in a very hot dry area not far from us… some trees are amazingly resilient & adaptable aren’t they?

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