|A double pink Hellebore.|
By the time April steps in, anticipation moves outdoors, thanks to planning and selection of early bloomers.
One of my new acquisitions is a trio of primroses I planted in late summer 2015. They are part of the Primula Belarina series named 'Nectarine', and their color is a luscious yellow/pink. The literature I've found indicates they are fragrant, but you'd have to go into belly crawl mode to detect it, because the plants are no more than 8" tall. I think I'll try some in containers so I can appreciate them up close. They now come in several colors, ranging from Cream to Cobalt.
I've been adding to my collection of Hellebores over the years, and a few have lost their identity. Or, more accurately, I've lost their identities. One of my favorites is a double, with darker pink outer petals and pale pink inner petals lightly splashed with the same shade as the outer petals. I love to combine Hellebores with pretty much everything, from Epimedium to ferns, creating colorful groundcovers in the mid-spring garden.
|Anemonella thalictroides 'Shoaf's Double'|
I've noticed the first three flowers I mentioned all are doubles, meaning they have double (and sometimes more) the number of petals on its flowers. Some flowers look good as doubles, while others do not, but that's my own opinion.
I don't seek out doubles over singles, especially in lilies, which I think look terrible as doubles--and that goes for both the day lily and the Lilium.
|Double Take Scarlet Quince is great for early color, with its double-petaled bright red flowers.|
|Aquilegia 'Winky Double Red-White' never fails to bring on a smile.|
And always plays host to some early-arriving bees.
|Geum 'Cosmopolitan' is one of the varieties without an orange tone|
to its color--the better to mix with other early-bloomers.
Flowering quince 'Double Take Scarlet' is aptly named, as its presence is hard to miss. The shrub is around 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide, and blooms very early in the spring, so you'll have lots of branches to bring inside for a vase or to leave outside for you and your neighbors to enjoy.
Sometimes called "granny's bonnet" because of its flower shape, Aquilegia, comes in double forms. I couldn't pass 'Winky Double Red-White' up at the garden center. It was just so darned cute! Growing to just about 18" tall, this little plant has kept its looks for three years so far.
Aquilegia (commonly called columbine) isn't known for its longevity in the garden, but will often reseed, its offspring reverting back to the hybrid's parentage.
One of the easiest perennials to grow for early season color is Geum, or avens. This rose relative grows a compact clump of green leaves, and suddenly sprouts flowers on top of 10" to 16" stems. It comes in colors in the yellow-red range and in single, semi-double and double-flowering types.
|Some garden centers will have stock plants in bloom in April. They're well worth the search.|