When asked to describe the smell of lilacs (Syringa), many people simply say they smell like spring. Which means that in May, when the Syringa xhyacinthaflora cultivars, Syringa vulgaris cultivars, and Syringa xprestoniae cultivars varieties all come into bloom, the whole arboretum is awash in the scent of spring.
The arboretum has several varieties of Paeonia, including one from a seed cultivated by Laura Barnes herself. Each late spring–blooiming peony variety has its own distinct scent, and the flower types are as diverse as their perfumes. The Barnes's peony collection shares a garden with the arboretum's honey bees. Some people have picked up the rose-like scent of the flowers in the honey available in our shop each spring.
There are over a dozen varieties of magnolias in the Barnes Arboretum, and they put on an impressive show each spring and early summer. With cascading flowers in various shades of pink, they make a perfect backdrop to the arboretum's main entrance. The flowering plants of the Magnolioideae family may have a long history, dating back to the days before bees, but seeing them in bloom never gets old.