Early Spring Gardening

Studio 5 Gardening Contributor Darin Engh has mapped out an early spring garden with the best plants for early color.

This garden filled with spring flowers would be wonderful in a variety of settings. It would be delightful leading out the back door to a garage or running alongside a walk leading to the front door. In fact, plant it along any walkway that leads to a gate or door. If your yard has no path, this garden is worth creating one just so you can plant this garden around it. Flowering trees, such as cherry or dogwood, provide a light, sweet scent to the garden. Plant richly, fragrant rhododendrons underneath them. You can fill in around the trees and shrubs with fragrant bulbs and also tuck in perennials.

Foxglove – Foxglove is a stately plant that has been featured in gardens for centuries. A common, vertical accent in cottage gardens, the foxglove has also been grown for cut flowers, as an herb for medicinal purposes and in Victorian era gardens as well. Most foxglove species are biennial while a few grow as true perennials, though short-lived. Flowers in shades of white, yellow, pink, rose, red, lavender and purple grow on spikes that vary in height depending on the variety.

Delphinium – Delphinium is a stately, elegant perennial that is a standard in English cottage gardens. Mounds of dark green, glossy foliage are adorned with huge spikes of showy, spurred flowers in early summer. Another common name is larkspur, although this name usually refers to annual varieties

Pansies – Pansies are one of the most popular and recognizable cool weather annuals. Many pansies are bicolored, making them striking plants for their small size. Although delicate, they are surprisingly hardy. And like their cousins the violas and violets, the flowers are edible. They’re a great choice for early and late season containers and complement spring flowering bulbs, flowering as the bulb foliage begins to fade.

Primrose – The Primrose is an unusually vivid spring blooming perennial flower. Unlike the subtle pastels associated with spring, primroses shout out in bold yellows, reds, pinks and blues. The flower stalks of primroses shoot up from low, ground-hugging rosettes of thick green leaves, staying in bloom for weeks.

Tulips – Tulips are the gardener’s pot of gold
Iceland Poppies – Though Iceland poppies are true perennials, they are usually grown as annuals or biennials. The sweet-scented blossoms sit atop two foot stems that rise from low-growing, clumped foliage. The blossoms are abundant and brilliant, and create a striking display. The petals have a crinkled silk appearance, and come in shades of yellow, white, orange and pale red.

Rhododendrons – Azaleas and rhododendrons are shrubs for all seasons. In winter some stand out with large evergreen leaves. In spring the flowers are showy; throughout the summer and fall the leaves add a pleasing, deep green color to the garden. Some deciduous azaleas add bright fall color before the leaves drop. The spectacular spring flowers of azaleas and rhododendrons make them among the most popular garden shrubs

Spring Garden Tips

• Prep existing beds. Work winter mulch into the top layer of soil.

• Build new beds. This year, put in a bed of flowering shrubs supplemented with perennials and annuals.

• Start seeds indoors.

• Plant hardy annuals.

• Apply mulch and more mulch. If you mulch now, you’ll have next to no weeds come summer.

For more information, you can contact Darin at Engh Gardens in Sandy or online at www.enghgardens.com

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