Springtime Partnerships - You Can Grow That!

Getting a great pair of plants to enhance one another is a challenge for any gardener, whether she is new to the game or an old hand. Even though I've gardened for a couple of decades, many of my best combinations come by accident. One that grabbed my attention in a subtle way was a self-seeded Hellebore with a common Brunnera.

Because I have so many self-seeded Hellebores, they're pretty much everywhere, from sun to shade. I also have Epimedium 'Sulphureum', a variety that isn't shy about spreading.
If you're looking for a great perennial ground cover that blooms in spring, you can't go wrong with any Epimedium. I have other varieties, some of them I'd planted just last year, that I'm keeping away from 'Sulphureum' lest the vigorous variety mow it down and smother it. It mixes well with Hellebores because of the contrast in leaf and flower shapes in the two of them. 

Two tulips that bloom around the same time and create an elegant pairing are 'Montreux' and 'Exotic Emperor'.  The taller of the two is 'Exotic Emperor', a pure white semi-double with green streaks on the outer petals. 'Montreux' blooms just a bit later and starts out pale yellow before fading to ivory and then a very pale pink on the outer petals.

My garden had entire swathes of Brunnera--the species with solid green leaves and gorgeous blue flowers. This is a nice plant for even deep shade, but there are so many varieties that make great foliage plants after the blooms fade away.

Brunnera 'Hadspen Cream' is an old variety, but still one of the best for brightening up a shady spot. Another of my favorite improvements on the original is Dicentra 'Gold Heart', a bleeding heart with outstanding golden foliage.
Brunnera 'Hadspen Cream' receives an extra dose of brightening from Dicentra 'Gold Heart' in the background.
As exciting is it is to see anything growing after the long winter, it's even better when there are pretty little partnerships. For more ideas and inspiration that celebrates the joys of gardening, click on the logo below where gardeners from all over pitch lots of great ideas.


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