At last spring is here and everything is growing rapidly. We gardeners look forward to the summer with a mature garden full of shape and colour, but all plants including perennials can be just as beautiful in early spring.
RED SHOOTS OF PLEASURE
Some of the most attractive are plants that emerge with red shoots, many of which turn green as spring turns to summer. In fact some are much nicer in spring than later on.The Yellow Loosestrife Lysimachia puncatata ‘Alexander’ is a rather inelegant (if useful) plant when fully clothed, but it emerges with delightful, bullet shaped, pink tinted shoots. Another plant that is lovely in early spring is the classic Dicentra spectabilis (now renamed unpronounceably as Lamprocapnos spectabilis). The stems of both flowers and leaves are succulent and pinkish red. One plant that has red leaves right through the growing season is Euphorbia ducis ‘Chameleon’. This is at its best in spring because its burgundy tinted leaves are prone to mildew later in summer, especially if it is damp. But a wet season does not put off Veronicastrums. I can’t help but admire the fringed shoots as they vigorously poke up in my borders.
Peonies are delicious in the early stages of growth too. The early shoots of most varieties emerge red and stay that way until the leaves unfurls. In tree peonies the leaves poke invitingly out for wood stems.
YELLOW & GREEN
Young green leaves can also look particularly lovely. Sedums produce leaves in patterns that are very decorative, and some hardy geraniums have leaves that are a wonderful addition to the garden in spring. The aptly named Geranium x oxonianum ‘Spring Fling’ has lime green leaves, and the leaves of G. phaeum ‘Springtime’ are painted with cream and maroon. The best yellow leaved plant for spring colour, in my opinion, is Valeriana phu Aurea. This is lovely with blue scillas. However our cats love to roll on it as it produces an aroma that is utterly enticing to them. Like peonies, there are certain perennials that produce beautifully sculpted buds. One of my favorites is the emerging shoots of Salvia glutinosa, a handsomely coarse plant with dull yellow flowers. The beauty with all these glorious spring shoots is that they are the promise more wonderful things to come.