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10 flowering perennials to light up the garden this March

Spring may almost be here, but snow and frost in early March are still potentially damaging for the garden. However, whatever the weather holds over the next few weeks, there is one thing you can guarantee; all sorts of plants will start to burst into life. March is a transitional month, where winter shrubs take their last bow and spring-flowering perennials step into the limelight. Here are 10 of Ladybrook Nursery’s favourite early spring-flowering perennials which will hopefully light up your gardens in the coming weeks.

Euphorbia x martinii ‘Baby Charm’

Euphorbia x martinii ‘Baby Charm’ is a compact subshrub with a neat round clump of deep green leaves tinted with red, producing sprays of light green flower/bracts for weeks in spring. It branches readily, with a flower appearing on every stem. The plant is toxic if ingested, so care is needed when handling. Plant in well-drained, light soil in full sun. Prefers mild areas.

Type: perennial

Height: 75cm

Foliage: evergreen – green stained red

Flower colour: March to July

Flowering: Chartreuse-green with red eye

Aspect: full sun

Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’

Epimedium ‘Sulphureum’, also known as the Bishop’s hat ‘Sulphureum’ is a clump-forming, rhizomatous, evergreen perennial with mid-green leaves divided into heart-shaped leaflets and pink and yellow flowers with long, red-tinted spurs in late spring. Plant in fertile, moist but well-drained, humus-rich soil. Prefers part shade, and needs shelter from cold, dry winds. Will tolerate full sun and slightly drier soils.

Type: perennial shrub

Height: 30cm

Foliage: copper-red when young

Flower colour: yellow

Flowering: spring

Aspect: semi-shade

Forsythia intermedia ‘Lynwood Gold’

Forsythia intermedia ‘Lynwood Gold’ is a deciduous shrub with erect branches. It produces an abundance of yellow flowers on bare stems in spring. Forsythia x intermedia ‘Lynwood’ (Forsythia ‘Lynwood’) will reach a height of 2.5m and a spread of 2.5m after 5-10 years. Plant in moist, free-draining soil in full sun or light shade.

Type: deciduous shrub

Height: 2.5m

Foliage: bright green

Flower colour: golden yellow

Flowering: February/March to April

Aspect: full sun or partial shade

Ribes sanguieum  ‘Pulborough Scarlet’

Ribes sanguieum ‘Pulborough Scarlet’ is an upright, bushy, deciduous shrub with rounded, lobed, toothed, aromatic, mid- to bright green leaves and pendent racemes of tubular, reddish-pink flowers in spring followed by spherical, blue-black fruit. It has been awarded an RHS Award of Garden Merit. Grows well in most moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun, reaching a height of 3 metres after 5 to 10 years.

Shrub

Height: 3m

Foliage: bright green

Flower colour: dark red clusters

Flowering: March/April

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Viburnum ‘burkwoodii’

Viburnum is a large semi-evergreen shrub with glossy ovate leaves. In spring, it has dense clusters of heavily-scented white flowers that open from red buds. In autumn, its leaves turn orange and red and it bears red berries that ripen to black. Plant in moderately fertile, humus rich, moist but well-drained soil in sun or shade. V. burkwoodii will reach a height of 2.5m and a spread of 2.5 m after 10-20 years.

Shrub

Height: 2.5m

Foliage: evergreen – dark green

Flower colour: white – fragrant followed by red fruits

Flowering: March/April to May

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’

A handsome, easy-to-grow, evergreen shrub, The Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata will fill a small garden with its enchanting scent. Beautiful clusters of pale pink flowers open in midwinter over lush dark green leaves edged in gold. Once the flowers fade they are followed by scarlet berries. Plant it at the front of a border to make the most of its fragrance and beautiful colour.

Type: evergreen shrub

Height: 1.5m

Foliage: evergreen with yellow edges

Flower colour: purplish pink – fragrant

Flowering: early spring

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Helleborus Orientalis

Evergreen perennial producing erect sprays of open, saucer-shaped flowers that range from plain white to deep maroon to pink. Commonly known as the Lenten Rose, these plants are fully hardy and very easy to grow. Prefers good well-drained soil.

Type: perennial shrub

Height: 45cm

Foliage: dark green

Flower colour: saucer-like white or greenish-cream

Flowering: February to April

Aspect: full sun

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ is one of the most popular plants in the mahonia family. It has elegant deep green leaves and striking, large racemes of fragrant, yellow flowers in midwinter. These colourful flowers are followed by small, ornamental purple berries. Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ is an excellent, tough plant for a shady spot and much valued for its winter interest.

Type: shrub

Height: 2m

Foliage: evergreen – dark spiny

Flower colour: pale lemon, scented

Flowering: November to March

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Camellia reticulata ‘Mary Williams’

Camellia reticulata ‘Mary Williams’ is a compact, vigorous, upright, evergreen shrub with oval, glossy, dark green leaves and single-to-semi-double, rose-pink flowers with yellow stamens in early spring. Plant in fertile, moist but well-drained acidic soil in a sheltered position. Protect emerging buds and flowers from cold, dry winds and early morning sun. Fertilise in mid-spring and early summer. If grown in a container, use ericaceous compost.

Type: shrub

Height: 1.5m

Foliage: evergreen – dark green

Flower colour: rose-pink – single-to-semi-double with yellow stamens

Flowering: spring

Aspect: full to partial shade/sheltered

Magnolia ‘stellata’

Magnolia ‘stellata’ produces a mass of bright white star-shaped, fragrant flowers, opening from silky buds quite early in spring from March-April. The foliage is bright green and glossy, occasionally turning an attractive bronze tint in the summer. This white magnolia is ideal for the small garden and is also suitable for growing in pots. 

Tree: compact

Height: 3m

Foliage: green – deciduous

Flower colour: pure white, star-shaped

Flowering: spring

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

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