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. Lovely spring flowers and what a super place to visit. I agree with Linc about the speckled leaves, they look very similar to the Erythroniums in my garden.

  2. The little plant between the Diceentra and false Rue Anemone pictures looks like Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginiana) Love that plant!

    That looks like a great garden.

  3. While I love spring flowers, spring leaves are also right at the top of my list. Tender and vibrant at the same time, they sing the song of spring.

  4. What a lovely spring walk.
    I drove from Lexington to Louisville, KY on Monday and the redbuds were at their peak of bloom along the way. Quite a sight. Most of that stretch of I-64 is attractive.

  5. Definitely lots to see – sometimes it’s just a matter of slowing down and actively looking rather than having the plants/flowers call us to attention.

  6. You found some wonderful woodland flowers. I have a couple of patches of merrybells in my garden, in just about the same stage of growth.

  7. 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.

    • I was afraid it might be Norway Maple but I decided I would ignore that possibility. It would be sad for the garden and for Jens Jensen if Norway Maples have established there.

  8. May apples!! I’ve always loved them – I think because of their funky umbrella look! 🙂 Also always been a fan of those Dutchman Breeches 🙂 Gorgeous photos.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. You certainly spotted plenty interesting plants. Love those Dutchman’s Breeches. Can’t get it grow in my garden either.

  12. 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?

  13. Sugar maple is actually Acer saccharum. Acer saccharinum is silver maple. I don’t know what the picture aft that is. I know a buckeye when I see one, but can not tell you if it is red or not. They are quite different from ours.

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