Column, Kristen Hamilton
The snow is starting to disappear and before we know it, spring will officially be here. Soon, gardeners all around Muskoka will be just itching to start digging into the warm soil. I know I can’t wait to start – in fact I’m already making plans for a new garden in my front yard.
Spring is a busy time with plants growing and gardeners working away. Start in your garden by removing all the dead debris, leaves and pruning shrubs. I know it can be very tempting, but you don’t want to start digging in the garden too early. If you work in the garden when the soil is too wet, you risk compaction of the soil and that won’t do your garden any good.
When the soil has warmed up you can start dividing and transplanting your perennials. Most perennials need to be divided every three to five years. You may remember from the previous fall that there were a few plants that needed to be moved. Now is the time to make those rearrangements, as you’re digging in the soil and moving plants around. It’s also a good idea to be mixing and adding fresh topsoil, manure and triple mix. This may seem like a lot work, but just remember you will be able to enjoy the benefits all season.
Spring is a wonderful time of year to watch the garden grow. A small green seedling will start to emerge out of the soil and before you know it you have a wonderful display of snowdrops, daffodils, tulips and much more. Not only are bulbs starting to pop out of the ground, but your perennials will also start to sprout new green shoots and the buds on your shrubs will begin to swell. If you’re lucky enough to have a forsythia shrub then you’ll be enjoying yellow blooms. The forsythia is one of the first shrubs to bloom and provides an excellent pop of yellow to any garden.
A great perennial garden has an array of plants that bloom at different times of the season. So what blooms in the spring? It may be tricky to find the perfect spring bloomer for your garden, but I’m sure you’ll find one from the following suggestions that will add the splash of colour your spring garden needs.
Moss Phlox, which creates a carpet of purples, pinks and whites, is a wonderful addition to any garden. It makes a great edging plant and also looks absolutely amazing cascading over and around rocks. It’s definitely my top pick for a rock garden or as an edging plant for your front entrance garden.
Another great selection for rock gardens and ground covers that create a lovely carpet in the spring is Wall Rock Cress, a vigorous spreader with tiny clusters of white, cross-shaped flowers. Spotted Lung Wort makes a great contrast in the garden with its green leaves spotted with splotches of grey. The blooms are pinks, purples and blues, but be careful – it can be slightly invasive as it tends to self-seed.
The Primrose is another great perennial with its thick, wrinkled, green leaves and colourful blooms of whites, pinks and yellows. It works wonders along the edge of any perennial border. The Bleeding Heart is a wonderful perennial with its large, arching stems dripping with flowers shaped like hearts. The Bleeding Heart comes in pink or white, and I personally like the pink because I think it does a better job of adding a pop of colour to the garden. The Bleeding Heart also fits well as a woodland garden plant or as cut flowers for a beautiful spring bouquet. If you plan to use the Bleeding Heart as a specimen plant, be sure to place other perennials around it that will fill in, as it typically dies down by mid season.
Euphorbia polychrome, also known as Cushion Spurge, can be spotted growing along King William Street in Huntsville in the spring. A dense cushion-shaped mound with a beautiful yellow colour, it’s a long-blooming showstopper. Not only is the Cushion Spurge stunning in the spring, but it makes a show in the fall too, with its foliage turning a brilliant red.
Other great suggestions for spring bloomers that offer vibrant shades of green and lighten up a shady area are Forget-me-nots, Lily of the Valley, Solomon’s seal and trilliums.
Do you still need colour in your spring garden? Why not create a couple of planters at your front door and fill them with a primrose, ranunculus, pansies, or flowering bulbs? To add height, place forsythia branches in the middle of the arrangement. Add quick colour to your garden beds by planting some pansies.
Working in bits of colour really adds a great dimension to any garden. But don’t forget: our gardens need plenty of love and attention to keep plants blooming in all parts of the season.
Kristen Hamilton has more than just a green thumb; she’s also a certified Landscape Technician. Hamilton has a BA in Applied Science as well, with a major in Landscape.