Caption: This Show Off® forsythia signals early spring for many with its showy, bright yellow flowers and slight fragrance. Photo credit: Pasquesi.com
by Melinda Myers
Add a burst of color to the start of the garden season with spring flowering shrubs. Small or large, these beauties add color, support pollinators, and help attract birds to the landscape.
Make room in mixed borders and gardens for these spring bloomers. Use varieties with slightly different bloom times to create continuous color throughout the spring. Complement these with spring flowering perennials and bulbs. Once the shrubs finish flowering, they add some nice greenery to the border.
Plant a few compact varieties in containers for added color on patios and decks. Add seasonal color with annuals, pansies or other cool weather tolerant flowers for spring and fall. Replace these with petunias, lantana, or other suitable heat tolerant flowers for summer.
Forsythia and lilacs are traditional spring favorites. Forsythia’s bright yellow flowers signal spring for many. The showy flowers have a slight fragrance, and the plants are basically pest free. Select varieties whose flower buds will survive cold winter temperatures, so there will be blossoms from the tip of the stem to ground level.
Lilacs fragrant flowers may generate wonderful childhood memories. Select the preferred white, pink, or purple color and varieties that will fit the growing location when mature. These will brighten any spot later in the spring.
Look for other easy-care, spring-blooming shrubs to include in the landscape. The spring blooms of viburnum are sure to provide plenty of enjoyment not to mention its attractive foliage, fall color, and fruit that attracts birds. Use them to create an attractive screen, hedge, or mixed border. Several viburnum varieties, like Korean Spice and doublefile, make great specimens or impressive small groupings in the landscape.
Brighten those shady spots with azaleas. These spring bloomers thrive with afternoon or dappled shade. Grow them in moist, rich, acidic soil in a sheltered location for best results. Make sure there is a good view to enjoy the blossoms and hummingbirds they attract.
Light up the spring garden with Garden Glow dogwood. The bright chartreuse foliage turns a burgundy red in fall. The white flowers give way to blue fruit and the red stems are a welcome sight in winter.
Other dogwoods, like red twig and gray dogwoods, are native shrubs with flowers that support pollinators and fruit that feeds the birds.
Fothergilla’s fragrant white spring flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds. This beauty ends its season with a colorful mix of yellow, orange, and scarlet fall color often on the same leaf.
Add an evergreen backdrop of boxwood, arborvitae, and junipers to showcase these spring beauties. The spring blossoms, fall color, and winter interest will shine when positioned in front of greenery.
Take a walk through the landscape now to identify places that would benefit from some spring color. Select the right plants that are suited to the growing conditions and complement the garden design. Then plant and enjoy these colorful additions for years to come.
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including The Midwest Gardener’s Handbook and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally-syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Her web site is www.melindamyers.com.