It’s that time of year again when we anxiously await signs of life in the garden. We were foolishly lulled into thinking spring is here after a few warm days only to be snapped back to reality this week when we had to bundle up with coats and scarves. This spring you can satisfy your early flower cravings by planting some of these wonderful trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and bulbs.
First up, bulbs!
Have you noticed carpets of brilliant blue around town? That is most likely a bulb called Scilla siberica or Siberian Squill. It is indispensable as an early spring bulb for naturalizing and will bloom a long time with cooler temperatures. At our Naperville store, you can find them blooming their hearts out in our Cottage Garden along with another variety called Scilla mischtschenkoana (try to say that 5 times fast!). This variety blooms white with a blue vein in the center of each petal.
Other bulbs that bloom early include Daffodils, Crocus, Hyacinths, Snowdrops, Grape Hyacinths, and Winter Aconite. Make note of what you see around town and remember these beauties. The Growing Place will have bulbs available in the fall. For spring bulb success you must plant them in the fall after nighttime temperatures drop into the 40s or low 50s for two weeks.
Elusive spring ephemerals
Nothing says “springtime is here” as the sight of our native woodland wildflowers in full bloom. With a few exceptions, most of these elusive spring beauties are tied into the seasonal rhythms of their shady woodland homes. Early spring provides a short window when these alluring plants can be enjoyed. When the warmer temperatures arrive, most species will go dormant for the season. They bloom for just a few weeks, and then their leaves turn yellow and the plants disappear. We’ll have them available for sale beginning mid-April through early May.
You’ll be seeing Mertensia virginica or Virginia Bluebells soon! Their bright green foliage and pink and blue bell-shaped flowers almost glow in the shade. Some of our other favorites include Sanguinaria canadensis or Bloodroot, Hepatica or Liverwort, Dodecatheon media or Shooting Star, and Asarum canadensis or Woodland Ginger.
First of the perennial blooms
Hellebores have been blooming since mid-March! Their flowers will last until May and their leaves until new ones start appearing in early-March. Many colors are available now. Primula or Primroses, Pulsatilla or Pasque Flower, and Pulmonaria are all worthy of a special place in your spring gardens.
Tree and shrub spring showstoppers
Forsythias have been blooming around town. These fast growing shrubs brighten up early spring yards. You can’t go wrong with any of these spring blooming trees and shrubs when they are planted in the right spot. Our favorites include Cercis canadensis or Eastern Redbud with its pink blooms in April and heart-shaped leaves, Cornus mas or Corneliancherry Dogwood with yellow flowers as early as March.
One of the very earliest blooming shrubs is Hamamelis vernalis or Witchhazel. There are several spring varieties that bloom in March and are very fragrant. For something different try Corylus avellena ‘Contorta’ or Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick. It’s an heirloom plant with intricately twisted branches and large yellow catkins that appear in April. Oh, and you can’t forget Flowering Quince, Spicebush, Magnolia, Pussywillow.
The early warm temperatures in March may have pushed some of these plants a bit ahead of schedule, but it’s a great time to plant ahead for next year. Visit the Weekly Scoop display at both the Aurora and Naperville locations for more information on early spring blooming plants.
Our Weekly Scoops feature topics that we think you want to know more about. Every Friday we’ll be updating the display with new and interesting things!
Posted on 4/7/2016 at 8:57:00 AM