Spring Flowers

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Once you catch site of the two earliest harbingers of spring, robin and forsythia, thoughts of daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and crocuses follow quickly. But you're scarcely limited to that in planning a garden that blooms from April through September and beyond. Whether you prefer more formal beds of annuals or gentle sweeps of informal perennials, you needn't wait until June and July for bright color amidst the foliage.

Designing a Spring Garden

The first step, though, is planning. A happy mix of flowering shrubs, ornamental grasses, perennials, and annual flowers adds interest, dimension, and texture to any garden, no matter what style or level of complexity. Remember the English saying about perennials when incorporating them into your design. The first year they sleep, the second they creep, the third they leap.

Two good choices for spring blooms are peonies, whether the shrub or tree variety, and primroses. The sight, for example, when conditions permit, of the yellow tree peony (Peonia lutea) and lilac simultaneously is truly lovely. In the normal course of events, the lilac has finished blooming by the time peonies flower. Peonies also do very nicely as cut flowers indoors, whether on their own or in an arrangement.

Columbine Denver Gold (Aquilegia chrysantha), which will grow to about 24 inches with an 18-inch spread attracts butterflies, does well in partial shade to full sun, and is effective in rock gardens. Its large, showy flowers are especially attractive. Columbine Biedermeier is another lovely spring perennial with a host of white to red to blue flowers, and grows only to about 12 inches, with a spread of about 24 inches.

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