Spring Borders: Flowers Throughout the Spring

Flowers throughout the spring

With a little careful planning and some imagination you can create an uplifting spring border that comes into flower before the end of winter and provides a constant display of cheerful colour until early summer.

Bulbs are the mainstay of the spring border, but there are many other trouble-free plants that you can use to add variety to this colourful display.

Snowdrops and crocuses, daffodils and tulips always deserve a place in the spring border. These and early herbaceous plants form the backbone of this kind of display and can be chosen to flower in succes­sion over a long season.

flowers throughout the springEarly perennials

One of the easiest spring-flowering perennials to grow is the lungwort (Pulmonaria). This flowers very early with blue or pinkish-blue, small, trum­pet-like flowers. There are also white and bright pink varieties, and the attractive leaves are a bonus. Once this low-growing plant has become established it can easily be divided to make more plants. It likes plenty of moisture and is happy in partial shade.

Forget-me-nots (Myosotis) are next to bloom. They can be found in shades of pink and white as well as the more familiar blue and are traditionally planted with late daffodils and tulips. Forget-me-nots look equally at home in for­mal borders or in informal cottage-garden displays, and are very easy to grow. Grown from seed sown the previous May, they self-seed after their first spring, and may even need to be thinned out.

Bedding plants

Primroses sold as indoor plants also grow well outside. They are perennials but are often treated as bedding plants and removed after flower­ing to make room for sum­mer flowers.

You can grow prim­roses from seed sown from May to September. Plant out the seedlings in Septem­ber for early flowering or in early spring for a later show. Old-fashioned vari­eties, in primrose-yellow, soft pinks, lilacs or pale reds do best in a permanent sheltered but sunny spot.

The universal pansy (Viola x wittrockiana hybrids) is another popular bedding plant. It is not sen­sitive to cold and has a long flowering season. It can be grown from seed.

Scented plants

For later in the spring, the fragrant wallflower {Cheiranthus cheiri) is avail­able in colours from cream and yellow to deep red. It is another bedding plant traditionally grown with late daffodils and tulips. For mixed colours, ‘Persian Carpet’ is an excellent full-height variety and Tom Thumb Mixed’ is a good dwarf variety for windy spots or smaller displays.

Wallflowers bloom year after year, but tend to become woody and ‘leggy’ (straggling), so they are best grown as biennials. Sow seeds in May, and plant out in the border in October. Alternatively, you can buy ready-grown wall­flowers from a nursery or garden centre.

Auriculas (Primula auricula varieties) look charming and dainty. These hardy alpine plants will survive in the border year after year, as long as they have good drainage.

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CONTINUOUS COLOUR

Milky-white snowdrops and bright yellow winter aconites may bloom even when snow is on the ground, and Anemone blanda, in white, blue, or rarer lilac shades, is not far behind. Crocuses open on the first sunny days, while some species still flower in April. You can choose large or small daffodils (Narcissus) to flower from February until the end of April, and scented jonquils (also Narcissus) still flower in May. Complete the picture with early- or late-flowering tulips in a range of sizes and colours. A shrub such as forsythia gives height in the background.

BULBS AND TUBERS

Grape hyacinth (Muscari)

These look good at the front of the border. Left to multiply, they soon develop into thick clumps which can be divided to make new plants. There are deep and pale blue and white varieties available. The plants need plenty of sun; this encourages flowers and reduces the foliage, which may otherwise look untidy.

Scilla

Sometimes known as squill, there are many different species of scilla, most of which resemble small, dainty bluebells. The bright blue flowers of Scilla mischtschenkoana appear in February and the electric blue blooms of S. sibirica appear in March. Scilla does not multiply easily, but it self-sows or you can collect its seed and grow new plants from these with a little patience.

Hyacinth

Hyacinths flower later in the border than those reared indoors but are otherwise the same. Plant the bulbs in autumn and you will enjoy the powerful scent of their sturdy flowers in April or even earlier.

IMPORTANT

Never cut off the foliage of a plant grown from a bulb. Instead, let leaves die down naturally so that the bulb receives all the nourishment it can get. Leave smaller bulbs in the border after flowering has finished. Bulbs are often lifted, dried and stored in an airy place to make room for summer plants, but you can leave them in the border if you prefer. It is possible to leave deeply planted tulips undisturbed, as young bedding plants can be planted above them without causing any damage to the bulbs.

22. August 2011 by admin
Categories: Bulbs, Bulbs and Corms, Plants | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Spring Borders: Flowers Throughout the Spring

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