The Flowers of Spring
The Flowers of Spring in My Garden
The flowers of spring are many and varied, with everything from bulbs such as crocus and tulips to spring flowering trees and shrubs adding their beauty to the garden. My own garden is a spring to summer garden, at its peak May through June. Let's talk a walk together through the winding pathways as I share with you some of the flowers of spring, along with tips on how to grow them.
All photos are by Jeanne Grunert.
Tulips are one of the most popular spring blooming flowers. Originally from Turkey, traders brought them to Holland, where they quickly became prized garden flowers. By the 16th century, tulips were so valuable that people found them stolen from their gardens at night! "Tulipomania" is the name given to a period of Dutch history when speculation on the prices of tulip bulbs bankrupted people overnight. People went crazy buying and selling tulip bulbs and speculating on the prices much the way they did in the early 21st century during the height of the housing bubble. It really is true - there's nothing new under the sun!
Speaking of sun, if you're thinking of planting tulips, make sure you plant the bulbs in a bright, sunny location. Tulips are actually planted as bulbs in the fall, typically after Columbus Day in most placed in the United States. They need a period of chill to grow properly. They are planted about 8 inches below soil level. Plant them with the pointy side up so that they look like a chocolate kiss. If squirrels or other rodents raid your flower bulbs, use a commercial pepper-based spray that makes the bulbs taste bad to creatures. Follow directions carefully during use to protect your own hands. And be sure to place a plant marker or stake near where you planted your tulip bulbs so you don't accidentally dig them up in the spring. It's hard to remember where you planted them!
Another popular spring garden flower is the pansy. Part of the viola family, pansies were a favorite during the Victorian era. They prefer night temperatures in the 40s and day temperatures in the 70s. Plant them in a sunny location and keep them well-watered. Unfortunately, it is difficult to keep them alive when the summer heat arrives, but they do reseed freely and you can collect seeds from your plants to start a new batch of pansies for next spring.
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What would spring be without phlox? This hardy evergreen perennial grows in nearly any type of soil. Just give it sunshine and some water and it spreads and spreads throughout the garden. And as you can see here, butterflies love it.
Now we'll visit some spring blooming flowers called perennials. These are flowers that return year after year from the same root stock. They bloom for a short period of time, then enrich the garden palette with their foliage. This is columbine, a flower from the Aquilegia family.
Columbine are native to North America. There are approximately 60 to 70 species of columbine. They have light, scalloped leaves and bloom profusely. Most disperse their seeds just as profusely! My own columbine shown here is one of over a dozen that now dot the landscape thanks to their willingness to share seeds.
Columbine tolerates partial shade and is very hard to zone 3 or cold temperatures. It needs rich, well drained soil but can tolerate some drought conditions.
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Candytuft is another perennial deserving of note. It blooms profusely starting in early spring, and many people plant it near their tulips, crocus and daffodil beds. It will spread out over time. Foliage stays green in the winter, so it looks nice planted as a landscape bedding plant near shrubs. It's a good idea to cut the flowers off after the plant has finished blooming so that the plant puts it energy into growth rather than seeds. It needs full sun to partial shade and rich, well drained soil.
Let's look at a few spring-blooming shrubs in the garden. One yellow flowering shrub you may not be familiar with is this one, Kerria japonica. It's related to the rose family and hails from Asia. It has an upright form and tiny rosettes of yellow flowers. Bees love it, so plant it away from outdoor patios. It tolerates partial shade and average soils.
Azaleas are a common landscape shrub across North America. Choose an azalea that's right for your location. It's best to choose one from a local nursery or garden center until you know what does well in your part of the world.
Azaleas need sun to partial shade and acidic, rich, well drained soil.
The snowball viburnum, or Viburnum macrocephalum, is also called the Chinese Snowball Bush. It's a late spring bloomer in many parts of the country and a great shrub for three-season beauty. In the spring, the snowball viburnum is covered in large clusters of white flowers that resemble snowballs. During the summer, cool green foliage covers the shrub. And in the fall, the leaves turn shades of bronze and purple that are just stunning.
Plant snowball viburnum well away from homes or other buildings. It can easily grow 20 feet high by 15 feet wide. It needs moist, well drained soil and full sun.
Spring Flowers in My Garden
I hope you enjoyed this tour in photos through my early spring garden. My garden is located in south central Virginia, near the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is considered zone 6B in the United States. Winter temperatures can drop into the teens, and summer temperatures can soar near 100. The soil is heavy clay and depleted by tobacco farms that used to be around here. My garden is only five years old, and I hope these pictures inspire YOU to grow a beautiful garden. Really, it doesn't take that long for small plants to grow lush, big and beautiful.
Lilac shown here.
All photos in this lens were taken by Jeanne Grunert.