The snow has gone, at least for most of us. It has been a long winter and everyone craves for the sight of the first bulb, bud or perennial to raise their heads and salute the return of another spring.
As we stroll through the garden assessing winters damage we catch a first glimpse of color not seen for many months. Some of those all important spring flowers come from bulbs such as crocus’s, daffodil, hyacinth and tulips. We can count on their merry heads swaying in the spring breeze giving off fragrant perfume and filling the borders with shades of the Easter eggs hidden amongst them.
There are many shrubs that bring amazing displays of blooms as well. The sunshine yellow of the forsythia bush dots the landscape at this time of year. Viburnum carlesii has intense clusters of white flowers and is an early blooming variety. Among the most favorite of early bloomers is the Azalea. Known for having a wide range of color it can also be very fragrant. Along with the magnolia, lilac, and witch hazel, there are a wide array of choices to enhance your spring garden display.
Bulbs are not the only early blooming plants. There are many perennials that provide an early season punch. Here are three favorites that will be a great addition to any garden bed.
The Hellebore, sometimes called the Christmas rose or Lenten rose can appear as early as February during a mild winter. Its delicate blossom resembles a single rose but does not belong to the rose family. It is in fact an evergreen member of the buttercup family. With names such as ‘apple green’, ‘russet’, ‘maroon’, or ‘mulled wine’ subtle colors of light green, purples and pinks are available. The Hellebore prefers light, dappled shade with fertile, moist, well drained soil. Placed by a well used path or near the house they will uplift the most winter weary of visitors.
Another spring favorite is the Pasque flower, known for blooming around Easter. The showy bell shaped blossoms, sitting atop a lacy, grey-green leaf range in color from purple, blue, red, yellow or white. The blooms open in the sunshine and close in the evening or cloudy weather. Once the blossoms are spent an attractive seed head covered in silky down appears to continue the appeal for this plant. It does well in full sun with well drained soil.
Primrose (primula) is another perennial that drives the winter blues away. The name of this versatile plant is derived from the Latin meaning first (prime). This perennial has a wide range of colors. It comes in varieties suited for boggy areas, Japanese Primrose, as well as woodland, border or rock garden applications. You may find that this perennial is somewhat a delicacy for deer. In that case they should be planted close to the house or in areas were deer can be discouraged.
Spring comes to give us hope and a renewal of life. With these suggestions any garden will come to life with the hopes of another successful garden season.
Betty Drover operates a local garden business and shares this space with business partner Patty Siddall every other Friday. Contact: 250-364-1005