Guides by Season: Spring Guides
Bletilla are deciduous terrestrial perennial orchids boasting attractive pleated, linear to lance-shaped leaves, and erect racemes of bell-shaped flowers in spring and summer. The delicate flowers vary in color from white to purple to yellow. Bletilla striata (Chinese Ground Orchid), Bletilla formosana Taiwan Ground Orchid), Bletilla ochracea (Chinese Butterfly Orchid) are 3 popular hardy species of orchids grown by gardeners in temperate climate areas. They grow from pseudobulbs that usually sit at ground level. A well established clump of these in flower is quite beautiful and rewarding.
Lady’s slipper orchids are among the most desired of all hardy orchids. Often colorful and striking, these rhizomatous perennials have a distinctive inflated pouch or modified lip (labellum) that resembles a slipper or shoe. The slipper can be as large as a chicken egg or quite small depending on the species. Cypripedium is a genus of terrestrial orchids in the Orchidaceae family. It includes about 50 species, most of them quite hardy, which can be found in America, Europe, and Asia.
Dactylorhiza (Marsh Orchids) are deciduous terrestrial orchids boasting lance-shaped leaves, sometimes spotted with burgundy, and showy terminal spikes crowded with purple, pink or white flowers in spring and summer. Because of their spectacular colorful inflorescences and their relative ease of cultivation, Marsh Orchids are the most widely grown European orchids. Marsh Orchids are very cold-hardy and do not require any special protection in winter. They can be grown outside in zones 5 through 8, depending on species.
As climbers, Clematis are unsurpassed in their long flowering presence, their rich diversity of flower shapes, their wide array of colors and tolerances in terms of exposure and climate. Members of the Ranunculaceae family, Clematis include more than 300 species and hundreds of hybrids. They are divided into 12 groups.
From fall into winter, crabapples put on a terrific display of colorful fruit in a wide array of color, including pale lime, chartreuse with yellow highlights, various shades of gold often rouged with pink, orange or bright red cheeks, bright orange, crimson, carmine, burgundy or even bishop's purple. If persistent, their color parade can be enjoyed for months unless hungry birds feast on them.
Create a garden that commands attention throughout the year by selecting trees that excite interest month after month and provide a ravishing show throughout all four seasons.
Native to Japan, Hydrangea macrophylla (Big Leaf Hydrangea) is one of the most popular hydrangeas in our gardens. This deciduous shrub features a rounded habit, large bold leaves and attractive clusters of long-blooming summer flowers. The species is divided into two groups: the Mophead Hydrangeas with large rounded flower heads, mostly packed with showy sterile florets, and the Lacecap Hydrangeas with flattened flower clusters composed of showy sterile florets radiating around a central cluster of tiny fertile florets.
Prized for its delightful fragrance, Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac) is a mainstay of the spring landscape in northern and colder climates. Easy to grow, tough as nails, deer resistant and relatively free from major pests, Common Lilacs are one of the most effective flowering shrubs. Tailored to meet the needs of all gardens, this species counts 2000 cultivars.
Mostly native to the U.S. and Canada, Asclepias include over 100 species of evergreen or deciduous perennials adorned with clusters of small, interestingly shaped blooms that are irresistible to butterflies. Attractive and easy to grow, they shine in many perennial gardens and are a key component of butterfly gardens, cottage gardens, or prairies and meadows.
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese Barberry) is a compact, woody shrub with arching, slender, zig-zag branches bearing a single, sharp spine at each node below each rosette of leaves. The wedge-shaped leaves are untoothed, slightly blue-green to green to dark reddish purple, and borne in whorls or clusters. Some Japanese Barberry cultivars are spectacular additions to the landscape where they bring a strong color accent from spring to fall.
The Large Flowering Amaryllis group is the most popular group with single flowers up to 8-10 in (20-25 cm). Their cultivars belong to the Galaxy group. Each bulb usually produces 2-3 stems and 4-6 flowers per stem. These exquisite Amaryllis tend to grow up to 18-24 in. tall (45-60 cm). Depending on temperature, they bloom 6-10 weeks after planting.
Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus: these are the spring bloomers everyone knows. But there are hundreds of other, lesser-known beauties to plant in fall. Some are small and delicate, others tall and ungainly. All are fabulous. Wait till you see them!
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.
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.
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