Plants - Perennials

Perfect plant combos for spring

Here's how to create a dazzling spring garden.

Your little black book
Making plant matches is easier if you know what flowers and ornamental foliage appear in your garden, and when. Precise timing is important, particularly with flowers, and the gardener's memory of bloom times isn't always accurate. Take a survey each week and organize the information in a journal. By autumn, your notes will become a guide to rearranging plants for the most artistic matches, and you will have full confidence that plants will be at their peak at the same time. (Note: Newly purchased plants often bloom earlier than usual because of the warm nursery conditions in which they're grown, so keep that in mind when you settle them next to an established mate.)

Seasonal partners: Early spring
‘White Splendour' Grecian windflower (Anemone blanda ‘White Splendour'), H 10 cm, W 15 cm, part shade to full sun, Zone 4
Japanese fan columbine (Aquilegia flabellata), H 20 cm, W 30 cm, part shade, Zone 4
Glory of the snow (Chionodoxa luciliae), minor bulb, H 15 cm, W 10 cm, part shade to full sun, Zone 3
Forsythia (Forsythia spp.), HW 50 cm to 2 m, full sun, Zone 5
Christmas rose (Helleborus niger), HW 30 cm, full shade to part sun, Zone 4
‘Snowflake' perennial candytuft (Iberis sempervirens ‘Schneeflocke'), H 20 cm, W 60 cm, part shade to full sun, Zone 4
Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata), H 6 m, W 5 m, part shade to full sun, Zone 5
Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), H 45 cm, W 30 cm, full shade to part sun, Zone 4
Cowslip (Primula veris), H 20 cm, W 30 cm, full shade to part sun, Zone 5
Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris), H 20 cm, W 30 cm, part shade to full sun, Zone 5
Red pasque flower (P. v. var. rubra) H 20 cm, W 30 cm, part shade to full sun, Zone 5
‘Spring Beauty' squill (Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty'), minor bulb, H W 15 cm, part shade to full sun, Zone 5
Great white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), H W 45 cm, full shade to part sun, Zone 3

Late spring
Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum), H W 45 cm, full shade to part sun, Zone 5
Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla syn. Anchusa myosotidiflora), H W 45 cm, part shade to full sun, Zone 4
‘Jack Frost' Siberian bugloss (B. m. ‘Jack Frost') H 30 cm, W 45 cm, part shade to full sun, Zone 4
Bath's cheddar pink (Dianthus ‘Bath's Pink'), H 20 cm, W 30 cm, full sun, Zone 4
‘Ivory Hearts' fringed bleeding heart (Dicentra ‘Ivory Hearts'), H W 30 cm, part shade to full sun, Zone 4
Bleeding heart (D. spectabilis), H W 60 cm, shade to part shade, Zone 3
Purple gas plant (Dictamnus albus var. purpureus), H 60 to 90 cm, W 30 cm, full sun, Zone 3
Cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma), H 45 cm, W 60 cm, part shade to full sun, Zone 3
Giant blue hosta (Hosta sieboldiana var. elegans), H 60 cm, W 1 m, full shade to part sun, Zone 4
‘Sarah Bernhardt' peony (Paeonia ‘Sarah Bernhardt'), H W 1 m, full sun, Zone 2
‘Dirigo Ice' woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata ‘Dirigo Ice'), H W 30 cm, full shade to part sun, Zone 4
‘Munstead Blue' lungwort (Pulmonaria angustifolia ‘Munstead Blue'), H 20 cm, W 30 cm, full to half shade, Zone 4
‘Dark Eyes' foam flower (Tiarella ‘Dark Eyes'), H 30 cm, W 45 cm, full to part shade, Zone 4

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