When winter is on its way out, spring colors are a welcome sight. Usually, by the time April rolls around we are ready for some color; whether it has been a dreary rainy season or, in some parts of the world, cold and snowy. Spring is a time of renewal and rejuvenation, so if you have not yet planned out your garden, why not look into adding these beauties to your landscape design.
1Narcissus (aka Daffodils)
Nothing says spring quite like a spray of daffodils.
Being a bright yellow in color, daffodils brighten up the spring days. After the dreariness of winter, they are a welcome sight. You can’t help but feel rejuvenated when looking at a bed of daffodils. In addition to the familiar yellow, they are also available in white and a mix of the two, which resembles a fried egg when in bloom (trumpet being a rich yellow, and the outer petals being white). There are 13 divisions of Narcissi, and in upwards of 50 species in total. The list is too extensive to go into here, but the most popular are Trumpet, Large Cupped, Small Cupped and Double. Who would have thought there were so many when we are generally accustomed to seeing the large yellow ones?
Daffodils emerge from bulbs in the early spring; often the first to poke through the warming soil. Depending on the size of the species, the leaves range from strap-shaped in the larger varieties and almost grassy-like in the miniature varieties. Their spread can be up to 20cm (8”), which makes them ideal for borders, beds and even pots. The flowers can be trumpet-shaped or cup-shaped, and range from a solitary flower to several per stem (depending on the species). Daffodils also make excellent cut flowers and are a beautiful addition to a spring bouquet.
Daffodils prefer sun or partial shade, and well-drained soil. Their blooms will last longer if they are in partial shade. Deadheading the flowers and removing the faded foliage mid-summer will give the bulbs time to rejuvenate before the cold sets in. They need this time so they can remain healthy with all the luscious plant nutrients throughout the winter and bloom again in the spring. A well-established cluster will bloom and reproduce for years. Depending on the space they are allocated, they may need to be separated every 3-5 years. This separation should take place no sooner than 6 weeks after flowering. Watch for pests such as slugs, snails and narcissus bulb fly. They are also prone to bulb rot if the soil is not well-drained.
Tulips are the most popular of spring bulbs and come in a variety of colors. They are often the first to poke their leaves through the snow in colder climates, right alongside the crocus.
Tulips grow in every color except a true blue. The most common are yellow, red and pink. There are many shades of each of these, which makes them a wonderful addition to your garden for the utmost variety in spring color.
They are closely related to lilies but are grown from a true bulb. The loose, papery shells (similar to an onion skin) help them retain moisture. Their leaves are lance-shaped to linear, and amount to an average of four per bulb. They have an average spread of about 20cm (8”), which is similar to the daffodil. There are up to 100 species of tulips, which includes many hybrids and cultivars.
Tulips like to be sheltered from the wind in all landscape designs and do best in well-drained soil. They are not opposed to being baked by the summer sun; in fact, they prefer it. In wetter areas, lift after the leaves have died down and store in a dry place. They may be replanted in the fall so you may enjoy another show of color in the spring. To increase your overall tulip area, or to share bulbs with friends, divide your bulbs in the fall. They may then be replanted in the new area(s) or garden.
Another “early riser” so to speak, is the crocus. Their leaves and buds emerge as soon as the soil begins to warm. They may be found in native pastures and at the edge of woodlands. Hybridization has created more varieties, which include bloomers of spring, summer, and fall.
Crocuses do not have the vast color palette of tulips but do add an air of spring to the garden with their whites, purples, and yellows. Some varieties also have hues of blue, orange, pink and even gray.
They are generally not very tall, as most average around 10cm (4”) in height. Their basal leaves are often a deep green, although some varieties have lighter leaves with a white spine up the center. They do well in rock gardens, borders and even in lawns if you want naturalization.
Their corms prefer well-drained soil and do best in full sun. They may be propagated when the parent corms are dormant, and some varieties will self-seed prolifically. Squirrels, mice, and birds enjoy the corms as snacks, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for the pesky critters. If storing in an out-of-ground location for any reason, be sure they are well ventilated as they are prone to corm rot.
Also known as the windflower, the anemone grows from tubers or rhizomes (depending on the variety). Their blooming time varies among species, with the first blooming in spring.
Their colors can be white, yellow, pink, purple, blue and red, with hues in between. This variety offers a showy display in your garden.
Depending on the variety, tubers or rhizomes are their base under the soil. Their leaves are generally rounded or oval. 3 – 15 leaflets make up the stalk of one leaf, while other varieties have fern-like leaves. Their cup-like flowers open at the end of a single stem.
Anemones mostly thrive in moist conditions, in the sun or partial shade. If you live in a cold climate, mulching the soil with rich, organic matter will be beneficial so they overwinter. They do well with asters, goldenrod, and other spring-flowering bulbs. To propagate, divide them in spring or fall.
5 Chaenomeles (flowering quince)
If a flowering shrub is what you’re looking for, this is by far one of the showiest as seen in a vast amount of Elementa projects.
The flowers of this shrub can be white, pink or red, with the red being the showiest against the browns of spring.
Although very pretty when in bloom and during the growing season, do not make the mistake of getting too close. The branches contain spines, much like the thorns on roses. This is a defense mechanism against wildlife, which likes to snack on the fruit. Green leaves emerge after the showy flower display in spring, and the little pear-shaped fruit is ready for harvest in the fall.
This shrub prefers moist soil but doesn’t like to be waterlogged. It may be trained along a wall or left to stand alone in the center of a garden bed. It does well in both situations, as long as it is in fertile soil with a mix of sun and light shade. You may propagate by taking semi-hardwood cuttings and healing them in until the next planting season.
Garden centers will be happy to help you pick the best bulbs, flowers, and shrubs for your gardening pleasure. If you want instant color, forced bulbs are available for your enjoyment. When they have passed their prime, plant them out in your garden so you may enjoy them next spring, and for years to come.