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Early-blooming perennials for springtime colour

After being battered and buffeted by heavy rain and strong winds for weeks and weeks on end, is it any wonder we’re all looking forward to sunshine. We all love the colour of a summer garden, and appreciate the sight and scents that the season brings. But why wait until summertime? There are an abundance of early-blooming perennials that can bring colour to your spring garden. If you’re not sure which early-blooming perennials are right for you, then here are Ladybrook Nursery’s top picks for springtime colour.

Lamprocapnos: (formerly Dicentra spectabilis)

This recently renamed perennial is a lovely and intriguing plant which blends easily with other perennials. The decorative, plump heart-shaped pink or white flowers dangle from pink-tinted stems which sprout from a beautiful clump of lacy leaves. Lamprocapnos reaches a height and spread of 50 to 100cm.

Helleborus hybridus: (Lenten Rose)

The earliest perennials to flower in the garden are hellebores. If you’re unsure which plants to buy, then wait until they come into flower so that you can appreciate their colour and shape. The most reliable varieties are those raised form the selected seedlings of the Lenten rose. Grow in a shady, moisture-retentive soil, and they can be left undisturbed for years. Lenten roses reach a height and spread of 10 to 50 cm.

Doronicum orientale: (Leopard’s Bane)

Leopard’s Bane thrives in full sun to partial shade. It produces bright yellow daisy-like flowers and a dense clump of rich green leaves and will happily continue to flower until late summer.

Veronica ‘Waterperry Blue’: (Creeping Speedwell)

This low-growing perennial is one of the first groundcover perennials to bloom in spring. It produces delicate blue flowers with burgundy-tinged foliage. Waterperry Blue is best grown over retaining walls so that it can cascade down the surface. The perennial plant enjoys full to partial sun but it needs good drainage. Maintenance is simplicity itself as it only needs an annual spring haircut to keep it looking good.

Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’: (Variegated Solomon’s Seal)

This variegated version of the native Solomon’s Seal has white, bell-shaped flowers which are by themselves fairly nondescript as they hang beneath the foliage: however, it’s the foliage which makes this plant worth growing. The thick, underground rhizomes spread fairly quickly, but not aggressively, and in just a few years they’ll produce a good-sized clump. Variegated Solomon’s Seal prefers full to partial shade, and combines beautifully with Virginia blue bells and creeping phlox.

Euphorbia epithymoides: (Cushion Spurge)

Whilst there might be thousands of different species of spurge, cushion spurge produces spectacular early spring colour. Like its sibling, the Pointsettia, spurge’s colour comes not from the tiny flowers, but rather from the bracts that surround the flowers. The plant produces a mound of foliage about a foot in height and thrives in everything from full sun to full shade: that alone makes it unusual and different from other early-blooming perennials

Allium schoenoprasum: (Chives)

Many of us grow chives purely for their edible foliage. However, many gardeners also appreciate them for their spectacular purple globular flowers. The blooms are also an important early source of nectar for bees and other pollinators. The added benefit of this plant is that the flowers are also edible. Plant in full to partial sun for the best performance.

Aurinia saxatilis: (Basket of Gold Alyssum)

This mounding perennial produces cascades of bright yellow flowers that are not only spectacular, but are also very appealing to spring pollinators. This plant does not like poorly-drained soils though, so positioning is critical. Basket of Gold likes to be planted in full sun. The plant does not like being divided and does not readily self-sow however.

Epimedium species: (Barrenwort)

Barrenwort is treasured by many gardeners not only for its delightful nodding flowers, but also because it thrives in dry shade –not that we’re seeing much of that at the moment. If you’re looking for a perennial to grow under your maple or pine tree, then barrenwort is definitely worth considering. There are dozens of species and cultivars on the market, each with a different flower shape and colour. Blooms can be white, purple, pink, red, yellow, lavender, and even bi-coloured.

Corydalis lutea: (Yellow Bleeding Heart)

Although it may share the name, this yellow bleeding heart is not related to the other namesake most of us are familiar with. Never the less, it is a wonderful early blooming plant. In spring the blue- green foliage forms a foot-tall mound whilst the entire plant is smothered with bunches of tiny yellow flowers throughout the season. The added benefit of this lovely plant is that it is self-seeding.

Do you have a favourite early-blooming perennial? Why not share your thoughts about these underrated garden beauties?

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