The Joy of Landscaping

A Gardening Blog

The Early Harbingers of Spring


The joy of starting a new gardening season (& a gardening blog!)

It’s fitting that my first blog post coincides with Spring just around the corner. I hope you find this blog informative as I muse about the joys of plants and the design of our landscapes.

Everyone’s familiar with crocuses, hyacinths, and daffodils to let us know Spring is coming. Pansies appear across the landscape, planted by those anxious to get started on a new year of gardening. Cherry trees put out their beautiful blooms early in the Midatlantic states. Native Dogwood and Azaleas pop in the South. Redbud trees bloom in northern climates. And of course, Forsythia’s yellow blooms can’t be missed after the grayness of the winter landscape.

Beyond these well known plants, here’s some other early bloomers that signify warmer days are ahead.

  • Andromeda (Pieris) - evergreen shrub that likes shade, with white or pink blossoms
  • Anemone sylvestris (Snowdrop Anemone) - white flowered perennial
  • Aquilegia (Columbine) - perennial available in an assortment of colors: yellow, pink, purple, white

Aquilegia (Columbine)

Pulmonaria (Lungwort)

Aquilegia (Columbine) and Pulmonaria (Lungwort)

  • Arabis caucasica (Rock Cress) - evergreen ground cover with white or pink blossoms; often used in rock gardens or as edging
  • Bergenia cordifolia (Pigsqueak) - pink flowers on a spreading, clump perennial
  • Chaenomeles speciosa (Flowering Quince) - a deciduous shrub with orange blossoms that grows 6’ - 10’ high
  • Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina Jessamine) - yellow blossoms on a vine
  • Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrops) - white flowering; very early bulbs
  • Lindera benzoin (Spicebush) - yellow flowers on an 8’-10’ x 8’-10’ sized deciduous shrub; also has red berries for birds (female plants only if pollinated by male) in late summer
  • Magnolia stellata (Star Magnolia) - white blooms before leaves open; small deciduous tree up to 20’ high, 12’ wide

Flowering Quince

Star Magnolia

Chaemonmeles speciosa (Flowering Quince) and Magnolia stellata (Star Magnolia)

  • Pulmonaria (Lungwort) - semi-evergreen, low growing woodland perennial with pink or purple flowers that can change to blue; foliage is often green spotted with white
  • Pulsatilla vulgaris (Pasque Flower) - low growing perennial with purple, white or red flowers
  • Salix discolor (Pussy Willow) - in very early spring, silky, silvery catkins emerge on bare stems before the leaves appear; native shrub can grow 10’-20’ tall and wide
  • Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot) - native, white blooming wildflower; leaves can get 6” in diameter
  • Scilla siberica (Scilla)- blue flowering bulbs, plant in masses for best effect
  • Viburnum x burkwoodii ’Mohawk’ (Mohawk Viburnum) - red buds open to white flowers; one of earliest viburnums shrubs to bloom; 8’ tall and wide

And if you just can’t wait for spring, plant these this year to get some color in the dreary late winter of 2017.

  • Daphne odora (Winter Daphne)
  • Erica carnea (Winter Heath)
  • Hamamelis virginiana (Witchhazel)
  • Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose)