Guides by Season: Early Spring Guides
Many tulips are not strongly perennial and their floral display tends to decline from season to season. They bloom well the first year, but then peter out after a couple of years. But if you select the right tulip varieties, plant them in the right spot and provide the proper care, you can be rewarded with a magnificent spring display year after year.
Lifting our spirits with their bright colors in the first months of the year, Primulas, also known as Primroses, belong to a huge genus of more than 430 species. Hardy, these cheerful perennials provide a wide range of sizes, shapes and come in almost every color imaginable. They range from tiny rock garden plants to statuesque candelabras.
Adored by florists and gardeners, Ranunculus asiaticus (Persian Buttercups) is a tuberous-rooted plant boasting brilliantly colored flowers adorned with multiple layers of delicate, crepe paper-thin petals. Native to Asia Minor, they produce masses of very long-lasting, single, double or frilled blossoms in a rainbow of gorgeous colors.
An essential component of many bouquets thanks to their long vase life (over 3 weeks), Freesias are striking beauties that also deserve a spot outdoors. Visually stunning with their abundant clusters of brightly colored flowers on gently arching stalks, they are also intensely fragrant. Native to South Africa, these tender cormous perennials, often grown as annuals, require minimal maintenance, are virtually disease-free and pest-free, deer and rabbit resistant, and will multiply to form generous clumps over time - provided some basic rules are respected.
While all Japanese Maples are beautiful and provide a fabulous architectural presence, in the garden or in containers, some enjoy particularly outstanding features such as dramatic foliage, long-lasting striking leaf color, unusual leaf shape or striking winter bark. The eye can never pass lightly over the dazzling color presented by their flaming foliage across seasons or the graceful outlines of their brilliant coral twigs and branches.
Naturalizing bulbs is a terrific way to brighten up lawns, prairies or meadows in spring. They also make gardening easy. Once planted, there is nothing left to do: these bulbs can stay right where they are and produce flowers year after year. What could be better?
Naturalizing bulbs is a terrific way to brighten up lawns. A surprisingly large number of perennial bulbs do well in grass, such as snowdrops (Galanthus), crocuses (Crocus), squills (Scilla), checkered lilies (Fritillaria meleagris) and plenty others charming bulbs. Left undisturbed in the ground, they will emerge again every spring, but will also gently multiply as long as they receive the right light conditions and are planted in soil with the proper drainage.
There are 20 different Snowdrop species and several hundreds of hybrids. Yes, several hundreds (!). The craze known as Galanthophilia has swept through the ranks of gardening enthusiasts in the past few years. While all snowdrops look the same to the uninitiated - dainty, nodding white flowers, with a dab of green, held on a thin arching stalk at the end of a thicker stem - they reveal their differences when you take a closer look.
A member of the Hyacinth family, Ornithogalum (Star of Bethlehem) are bulbous perennials grown for their clusters of typically star-shaped, white flowers in spring or summer, depending on the species. They quickly form large clumps of grassy or strap-like leaves.
The following daffodils are recipients of both the Award of Garden Merit and the Wister Award, two highly coveted and prestigious awards. These super-daffodils have proven to be vigorous, sturdy and reliably perennial. They include many different flower shapes and bloom seasons. If you plant a few of each variety, you will get weeks and weeks of spring color every year! Some are delightfully fragrant. Grow them close to where you sit in the garden, or along paths to savor their sweet fragrance as you pass by.
Rock gardens offer the perfect home for an extensive array of plants including evergreens, deciduous shrubs, perennials, annuals, and flowering bulbs. A surprisingly large number of perennial bulbs do well in rock gardens, such as snowdrops (Galanthus), crocuses (Crocus), wild tulips (Tulipa), miniature daffodils (Narcissus) and plenty others charming bulbs. The following list of perennial bulbs thrive in rock garden conditions and you will be delighted to see them every spring or fall.
Narcissus (Daffodils) are among the easiest bulbs to grow and regarded as some of the most valuable spring bulbs for the South. Long lived, they naturalize and multiply year after year. Versatile, they offer a fascinating array of flower forms, sizes, and colors.
If you look for more than a beautiful drift of creamy or golden flowers, and wish to add another terrific dimension to your spring garden, plant fragrant Narcissus cultivars. While many daffodil bulbs are fragrant, most do not have a perfume powerful enough to enjoy unless you stick your nose directly into the bulb.
There are 17 Hellebore species. Most are native to the mountainous regions of Europe, especially the Balkan region of the former Yugoslavia, south along the eastern Adriatic to Greece and Turkey. Many of the species have been interbred, producing countless hybrid Hellebores in a rich array of colors and forms.
When the crocuses pop up, winter is on the way out! Very few early-flowering bulbous, tuberous and cormous plants are as extensively planted as the Crocus. Indispensable for each and every garden, they join snowdrops, winter aconites and glory-of-the-snow as the very first heralds of spring.
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