As the snow starts melting in the front yard, I go out almost daily to check for my snowdrops. This small patch of bulbs is the first hardy plant to bloom, after the witchhazels which bloom while there’s still snow (usually in March). This is when Spring starts, at least for me! These tough little guys keep going, despite never have been cared for and having to hold their own with Vinca (periwinkle) and poison ivy, both of which have taken over in that area between the trees and large shrubs.
This wonderful Scots pine, Gold Medal, turns brilliant yellow over the winter, then gradually changes back to dark green in the spring.
With us starting the year doing curbside pickup only, it was necessary for me to take pictures of every plant, including every variety, that came in. In most cases, it amounted to a picture of leaves, but sometimes they came in with flowers.
The Belarina series of hardy Primula have been great performers. Like most of the earliest perennials to bloom in the garden, they prefer part shade to shade. As a bonus, they almost always bloom again in the fall when the nights start getting cold again.
This hardy pansy, Northern Lights, has a wonderful fragrance. A great low growing, low care plant for a shadier garden.
The Star series of Dianthus have been around for a number of years. These low growing, sun loving, drought tolerant perennials have silvery-green leaves and are covered in single to semi-double fragrant flowers in the Spring/early Summer. They’re great for edging, in rock gardens, in crevices between rocks, or even as an alternative to grass in boulevards due to their salt tolerance.
Creeping Phlox (or Spring Phlox) are another low-growing, low care perennial for a sunny spot. They are drought tolerant and are absolutely covered in a carpet of vibrant blooms in the spring. They are even native, growing naturally on the north shore of Lake Erie. I needed a ground cover with white flowers for a property that was only to include Carolinian natives years ago and, after much research, frustration, and hair pulling (it’s not like I have a lot to pull), I happened across this little gem of information. Note that there are hybrids starting to show up, so if you’re a strict native plant person, you only want the P. subulata varieties.
Lungwort (Pulmonaria) is an old-fashioned perennial for a part-shade/shade garden. Most have blue (gardener’s blue 🙂 ) flowers that age to pink, although some have pink and blue flowers, and a few have true blue flowers.
Bleeding Hearts have always been one of my favourite perennials. The old fashioned type (Dicentra spectabilis) grow quite tall (3-4 feet) and tend to disappear as the summer gets really hot. Luxuriant (pictured below) is a different species and is usually lumped into a group called fern-leaf bleeding hearts. They are shorter in habit and can bloom all summer. They prefer part shade (afternoon shade is a must) and well-drained soils that are on the drier side.
Pulsatilla (Pasque flower) are delicate looking perennials that do best in part sun locations. While they may look delicate, these perennials are very hardy and very reliable. Like the old-fashioned bleeding hearts, they tend to go dormant as the summer turns hot.
Epimediums (barrenwort/fairy wings) are very very tough and very easy perennials and they deserve so much more consideration than they usually get. Plant people love them and with good reason. The leaves are semi-evergreen and are usually edged, or blotched with red in the colder months. The flowers are held just above the leaves and in the case of a few newer varieties, well above. These clump forming perennials will grow in part sun to full shade and almost never need water. They are so drought tolerant and tough, that they are one of three plants that I recommend to plant a Norway maple (the hardest tree to plant under – much worse than a walnut)
Drumstick primroses (Primula dentata) are another spring time favourite for a part shade garden. They’re easy to grow, hardy, and the balls of flowers held well above the clean foliage make a great show.
Hepaticas are another plant person plant. These delightful woodland natives are easy to grow in part shade to shade conditions on the drier side. They have now been moved into the Anemone genus but, for me, they continue to be Hepatica.
Euphorbia Bonfire is just a stunning perennial. When the bracts open and turn shades of yellow, chartreuse, and orange above the wine red foliage, it’s a show stopper and, unlike some Euphorbia, this one stays in a clump. It prefers full to part sun and likes to be on the drier side.
This perennial Geranium stays in a nice neat compact clump and produces these stunning flowers in the spring/early summer. They do well in full sun to part shade.
Iberis sempervirens (perennial candytuft) is an easy to grow compact tidy perennial for full sun locations. It is covered in a carpet of white flowers in the spring/early summer.
With distancing last year, the chipmunks (and birds) were the only visitors I had on the deck for quite a while. This one in particular was very comfortable with Latte and I and would jump on my lap when he wanted peanuts and I wasn’t paying attention.