What is better than the first sight of spring color? The answer is: nothing is better than spring after a long Michigan winter.
It is exciting to see flowers popping up through snow and ice, a seemingly impossible task for such a delicate-looking bloom. When you are used to seeing fluffy white snow and brown branches, color is a refreshing change of pace. If you are in need of early spring color, add a few of these options to your landscape.
Trillium (Trillium ovatum) is my favorite spring wildflower. As its name would suggest, this plant unfurls a trio of petals surrounded by a trio of leaves. Colors range from white to red with some purple and pink varieties as well. Trillium thrives in woodland settings or partly shaded garden beds with humus-rich soil.
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.
Spring is the time when our fall planting efforts pay off. Get the bulbs in the ground before winter and waiting for next spring’s color will help you through winter as there is much to look forward to.
Crocuses, Galanthus, Tulips, and Daffodils are some of the earliest bloomers. Plant the bulbs in mass groupings for the biggest impact or scatter them into your existing landscape for a naturalized affect. If you have critters in your yard, Daffodils are your best bet.
Early Spring Perennials
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.
Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla) If you have a spot where hosta, ferns and bleeding-heart grow well, you should include brunnera in the mix. ‘Jack Frost’ is one of my favorites available, offering excellent deer resistance. Its blue forget-me-not-looking flowers delicately hover over silver-flecked leaves. Once the flowers fade, the leaves will look good all season and add a light to shady area.
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.
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.
Spring Flowering Shrubs
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.
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.
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!
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