Few things can brighten a day like the first spring colors. It is inspiring to see delicate-looking blooms fight their way up the frozen earth and face the last cold blasts of winter. After every long winter they add refreshing early color to the landscape. Add some early spring color to your landscape with wildflowers, bulbs, and other early bloomers.
The Wild Child
For a wonderful show in spring consider wildflowers.
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) is also known as Virginia cowslip. A native wildflower, Virginia bluebells is a spring ephemeral. That means it appears for spring color and disappears completely when summer heat arrives. It’s a great choice for tucking into partial to full shade settings. Pink flower buds yield deep blue blooms that fade to lavender.
Wake Robin or Trillium (Trillium ovatum) is a favorite spring wildflower. This plant unfurls a trio of petals surrounded by a trio of leaves. Trillium thrives in woodland settings or partly shaded garden beds with humus-rich soil. Like the Virginia Bluebells, plants go dormant in summer, after heat arrives.
Common Bulbs And Others
Spring is the time when our efforts planting spring-blooming bulbs wa-a-y last fall really pay off. Get the bulbs in the ground and wait for next spring’s color explosion. Crocuses, tulips and daffodils are the most familiar but consider the less common Anemone, Scilla (aka Squill), and Galanthus. These are some of the earliest to bloom. Plant the bulbs in mass groupings for the biggest impact.
Early Perennial Bloomers
Bulbs aren’t the only option. Try early blooming perennials to add spring interest.
‘Raspberry Splash’ Lungwort (Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’) If you have a spot where hosta, ferns and bleeding-heart grow well, you should include lungwort in the mix. ‘Raspberry Splash’ is one of the best lungworts available, offering excellent disease resistance. It’s also ignored by deer and rabbits. Lungwort stages a great display with flowers that change colors from bud to faded bloom. Silver-flecked leaves look good all season.
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) An old-fashioned favorite, Bleeding Heart has dainty heart-like blossoms. Once established the plants form small shrubs in the garden. They thrive in partial to full shade and are less bothered by deer or rabbits.
Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) Lady’s mantle flowers in spring but looks good all season long. Sprays of tiny chartreuse blooms appear on plants in spring and linger into early summer. The velvety leaves are known to hold dew and raindrops that sparkle like stars in the sunlight.
Hellebore (Helleborus spp.) also called lenten rose, is not a rose at all but rather a flowering perennial that blooms in midwinter and early spring. The nodding cup-shaped flowers come in a range of soft pinks, mauves, creamy whites and pale greens. Loves the shade. Grow it under flowering shrubs or trees, or along a north-facing wall or in other partially shaded areas. Hellebore also will thrive in containers and window boxes as long as the soil is kept moist.
Bring the Spring Color In
Some of your landscape plants can brighten your home interior too. Force blooms from flowering shrubs by placing cut branches in a vase inside and let the warm interior of your home open the flowers.
Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles spp.) One of the earliest-blooming shrubs, flowering quince produces near-fluorescent blooms that are hot pink, orange or red, as well as more subdued peach and white, for a few months in spring.
Forsythia (Forsythia spp.) In late winter and early spring, this timeless flowering shrub shows masses of yellow flowers that announce the arrival of the spring. Look for hardy hybrids such as ‘Northern Sun’, ‘Meadowlark’ and ‘New Hampshire Gold’ — all of which will sport blossoms even if temperatures fall into negative degrees Fahrenheit.
Early blooming plants are a welcome sight in spring. After a long winter it is wonderful to see color return to the landscape. Need more color? Ask one of our designers for some assistance. Happy to help.