WOOSTER, Ohio -- The crabapple blossoms at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Centerin Wooster should be at their peak bloom this weekend, April 6-8, nearly two weeks sooner than their earliest peak on record.
"Before this the earliest peak was about the 20th of April," said Ken Cochran, program director of the center's Secrest Arboretum, whose 700 or so flowering crabapple trees draw crowds of admirers every spring.
Cochran said last week's record warm temperatures kicked off the process of bud break, the swelling and breaking open of the trees' buds.
But cooler weather and clouds since then have slowed the process down. And that's good news for visitors.
"Right now, we're seeing a good amount of" the trees in bloom, Cochran said. "But there are more to come. This weekend should be the peak."
Last year's peak was nearly a month later, around May 5-6, he said.
Most of the trees are in a research planting called Crablandia II. Others are scattered along the roads and on the center's campus proper.
Crablandia I, however, was destroyed by a tornado in September 2010 along with a number of highly visible crabapple trees along the arboretum's roads and at the center's main entrance.
So far, about half of the 200 or so lost crabapple trees have been replaced, Cochran said. Certain older, disease-susceptible crabapples varieties have been left out, he said, and other kinds of trees have been added.
"We're aiming for more diverse plantings along the roads now so there's more seasonal variation. There are some crabapples (being replanted) but also some magnolias, some June-blooming trees, and hardwoods like oaks and maples for fall color," he said.
"We like to tell people, 'Come every day. Every day in Secrest there is something going on.'"
In all, the tornado took out more than 1,600 trees in the arboretum and at the center, but more than 1,000 new ones have since been replanted.
Helping, too, is the arboretum's Plant Discovery Day,which is set for May 5. The annual event features a sale of unusual plants, garden art sales, and auctions of plants and art. Proceeds benefit the arboretum, which continues replanting after the tornado.
Details on Plant Discovery Day and the arboretum can be found online at http://secrest.osu.edu/, or call 330-464-2148.
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