It's a windy, frigid, snowy day so I decided that a post about some of my favorite spring flowering perennials would brighten my mood (and hopefully yours as well). Unfortunately, I have so many favorites that it's going to be tough to whittle this list down. I'll do my best.
I love spring bulbs of any kind. Daffodils, tulips, crocuses. But one of my favorites is Galanthus elwesii (Giant snowdrop)- lovely drooping white bells with a touch of lime green at the base. Galanthus can be planted in full sun or part shade and looks beautiful with other early spring bulbs or planted in drifts. Imagine these beauties grouped with some Tete a Tete Daffodils or crocuses. Sigh!
Another early favorite is Helleborus x hybridus (Hybrid Hellebores or Lenten Rose). For those of you who like the details, the "x hybridus" part of the genus species name refers to the fact that the original native species of Hellebore (9 of them) were crossbred in many different combinations to produce hybrid plants that come in a wide variety of colors. Hellebores bloom very early, often when snow is still on the ground. These plants are easy to maintain and prefer shade or part shade. They have evergreen leaves which can look a bit shabby in early spring, but perk up nicely as the weather warms. Hellebores have beautiful nodding, cup-shaped flowers. Here are just a few of the lovely color possibilities. Plant Delights Nursery (photos from their online catalog) has a wonderful selection of these plants, but some varieties are also available at local nurseries
Another spring blooming flower that I can't seem to grow enough of is Columbine (Aquilegia). These perennials are easy to grow from seed and do best in part shade, although they can be grown in full sun. They come in many colors and self-seed prolifically, but if flowers are removed before seeds form, the plants will last longer in your garden. Like Epimediums, Columbine flowers are delicate with an unusual shape- some newer varieties are "doubles" with fuller flower heads. Columbine foliage does tend to look a bit shabby as the season progresses. Feel free to cut the plants back to the ground if they are looking bad. Here are some of the Columbines I grow arranged together in a vase:
I wintersowed (see my previous post) some Columbine seeds from Swallowtail Gardens this year. I'm looking forward to seeing the 'Crimson Star" variety thriving in my garden this spring.
I'm one of those plant people who loves getting close and looking at the details no matter how small. That must be why I like Epimediums so much. I have Epimedium alpinum 'Rubrum'' (Red Barrenwort) in my garden, but there are many others to love. Epimediums are spring bloomers and make great groundcovers (although they spread slowly for me so you may need several plants to get a good-sized clump). The leaves of the 'Rubrum' variety have a wonderful reddish tinge in spring. Mature leaves are green, but turn red in fall. This shade loving perennial has small star-shaped pink and white flowers with yellow centers. You have to get up close and personal to see them, but they sure are stunners. I like to pick them and put them in some of the small vases I have so I can enjoy them inside. Once again, Plant Delights nursery has an amazing selection of these if you want something more unusual like the 'Snowflakes' variety below (photo from their online catalog). What's not to love about these cute little plants.