From the Desk of Ed Hume: Spring Flowering Shrubs

April 19, 2010 at 12:00 AM Leave a comment

Have you noticed all the beautiful Spring flowering shrubs?   There are some terrific landscape plants that flower at this time of year.  By including some of them in your garden, you can add interest and color early in the Spring gardening season.

For example, some of the rhododendrons started flowering as early as January while others are in bloom right now.  Hundreds of other varieties will begin their flowering season in the weeks to come.  The early varieties need to be planted in a spot where they have a bit of cover from above, like under trees, so the late frosts do not ruin the beautiful blossoms.  Right now, PJM or Christmas Cheer and other early ones are putting on quite a colorful flower display.

One of my favorite early evergreen shrubs is the Winter Daphne odora, which has nice variegated (gold and green) leaves and exceptionally fragrant pinkish March blossoms.   Soon, the little low Daphne cneorum that has massive small clusters of deep pink fragrant flowers will burst into bloom as well.

Earlier this year, the bright yellow flowering Forsythia put on quite a show.  The bare stems covered with yellow flowers are spectacular in late Winter.  What makes this plant special is that the branches can be cut even before the plant is in bloom and forced into early flowering indoors.

Another of the fairly early flowering deciduous shrubs is the Spirea.   Like the Forsythia, its flowers cover the bare branches, providing quite a show.  Its flowers are pure white.

You have probably noticed the rather large pure white flowers on a 5 to 10 feet tall plant.  Those are Magnolia stellata, commonly called the “Star Magnolia.”  They have a nice light fragrance and flower for several weeks.  The pink variety with larger flowers is Magnolia soulangeana, and it grows considerably taller.  In truth, there are several other varieties that certainly merit a place in the Northwest garden.

The other early flowering plant that is often overlooked is the camellia.  We see a lot of them in older home gardens but seldom in newer gardens.   That’s too bad, because the prolific flowers and deep green (evergreen) leaves provide a nice bold texture along with other plants.  The Spring blooms are not only colorful in the garden, but they also make wonderful cut flowers indoors.

Last but not least is heather!  There are at least a dozen and a half varieties that flower at this time of the year.   I couldn’t even tell you how many other varieties have beautiful variegated foliage. Many of these low growing heathers start blooming in the Fall and Winter, so they provide garden color for a long period of time.

Needless to say, these are only a few of the outstanding plants that provide early garden color.  A visit to your local nursery or garden center will give you a chance to see these and many of the other Spring flowering plants so you can determine which ones you like the best!

-Ed

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