The highlight of February for us isn’t Valentine’s Day (although we wouldn’t say no to a box of choccies), it’s the hint of spring in the air, which is guaranteed to lift spirits despite the rain and snow. With a garden stuffed with early spring plants, you can look forward to a festival of colour and fragrance over the coming weeks. Just choose a selection of the plants below, and if it’s too cold outside to plant them right now, simply pop them in pots, and set them on the patio until the weather perks up.
Among the first flowers of spring, no garden is complete without a few dainty snowdrops. Plant them in pots close to your house or in beds and borders beside paths where you can enjoy them. Avon bulbs has a great selection to choose from, including this one, which is called ‘Straffan’.
The cheapest and easiest way to produce a mass of colour is to plant daffodil bulbs in autumn, but if you’ve missed the boat, don’t worry, you can buy them now in pots at the garden centre. Use miniatures, like this ‘Little Witch’ variety, to dress up spring pots or baskets and plant larger daffs in beds and borders.
Flowering from January, hellebores bloom for many months and have the most exquisite flowers in shades of white, pink and dark purple. This one is a called ‘Penny’s Pink’ and is one of my favourites.
Mahonia x media
The sweet scent from the flowers of this big and bold, shade-loving evergreen shrub will perfume a large area of your garden. The blooms also provide a feast for bumblebees that venture out during mild spells in spring.
Bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)
You’ll have to wait a few weeks for the jewel-like flowers of this plant to open, but boy is it worth the wait. Dangling like precious stones from arching stems, the blooms and pretty foliage make a colourful addition to a shady border.
Flowering from March to May, find space for a blowsy camellia. Plant it in a large pot of ericaceous compost or in a shady bed close to a south- or west-facing wall or fence to protect the flowers from frost damage. This beauty is called ‘Yours Truly’ and you’ll find plenty more at Trehane Nurseries.
Choose your spring-blooming clematis carefully and you’ll enjoy fragrance as well as flowers. Most Clematis montana varieties are sweetly perfumed, as is the evergreen Clematis armandii (below) which blooms from March. All of these climbers require a tree or large wired wall or fence to scramble up.
Where would we be without this stalwart of the winter and spring garden? They may be as common as muck, but pansies’ cheerful faces are the perfect antidote to winter, brightening up any pot, hanging basket or gravel garden. I prefer the small-flowered violas, which produce scores of weather-resistant blooms.
This little beauty is often overlooked, but it’s a fabulous ground-cover plant that deserves a home in any garden. Ideal for shade, the semi-evergreen, white-spotted leaves are joined by pink and blue flowers in spring, which bees absolutely adore.
Elephant ears is the common name of this easy-to-grow plant, and refers to its large, glossy evergreen leaves. In spring, pretty clusters of flowers in shades of red, pink or white appear, and last for many weeks. It’s a great choice for shady areas close to trees.
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Zia Allaway, Garden Expert
View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert