Designing Long Lasting Spring Displays

Spring comes and goes every year but rarely has the politeness to RSVP and let us know exactly when it’ll arrive. This poses a challenge for us gardeners as we try to make sure there’s a good early display that’ll continue flowering right through the season. Having a succession of flower throughout spring is crucial to creating and maintaining consistent interest in your garden and borders, and also works wonders to disguise the old flowers that are dying back with some beautiful new blooms.

Crocus vernus 'Joanne D Arc' below the yew tunnel
Crocus vernus ‘Joanne D Arc’ below the yew tunnel

Later in the year once we get into late April the shrubs and perennials come out in force and make finding interest all too easy, but getting it right from January to April is a little trickier. Early flowering bulbs and shrubs are excellent for bringing a succession of colour to the garden in the early season and, with careful thought, they can produce a lengthy display that’ll fill a garden with beautiful early spring colour.

Purple, lilac and white Crocus flowering through turf at Aberglasney Gardens
Crocus by the Yew Tunnel

Snowdrops are usually the earliest to flower followed shortly by Crocus and Anemone, and all of which make excellent garden plants/ There are many early flowering Narcissus and Tulip too that’ll also add interest in February and March. Other options include the Spring Snowflake (Leucojum vernum) and the winter Aconite which also flower around this time.

Anemone nemerosa in flower at Aberglasney Gardens
Anemone nemerosa

All the plants mentioned above do an excellent job of filling the gap between Snowdrops and Narcissus. The latter offer a range of cultivars that flower from March through to May making them an excellent choice for any garden. Tulips also come in a great range of colours and flowering times as there’s early, mid, and late flowering types so you can have them in flower from March through to June.

Chimonanthus and snowdrop
Chimonanthus and snowdrops

Many of these bulbs can be combined very well with early flowering perennials such as Pulmonaria (Lungwort) or the early flowering Pea Lathyrus vernus. Combining these plants into an herbaceous border can be very effective as they’ll start the season early in the year before dying back in summer. The emergence of spring growth on herbaceous perennials will also mask any unsightly foliage that may be dying back.

Lathyrus vernus
Lathyrus vernus

Another way to fill the spring gap is with early flowering shrubs such as Winter Sweet or Witch Hazel that’ll also complement a bulb display. Winter flowering Viburnum and Corylopsis often have excellent scent and spectacular flowers in spring. Although many spring flowering shrubs are of little interest in the summer, they can make brilliant filler plants or can be used to mask unsightly fences.

Red Witch Hazel flowering in the Asiatic Garden at Aberglasney
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ AKA Witch Hazel

These plants do a fantastic job of lengthening the season and keeping your gardens and borders lively throughout spring. Careful deadheading and removal of dead foliage will also keep your border looking clean and tidy. Many of the spring flowering plants have excellent cut flower properties, especially as they’re often scented. Garden centres and nurseries offer an excellent range of these plants and getting out and about early in the season is a brilliant way of getting new ideas.

Over the last few years there’ve been some wonderful springs, and this season is already teeing up to be just as good.


Tips for the Week:

  1. If the ground is not too wet, sow vegetables
  2. It’s ideal weather for planting Rhubarb and Asparagus
  3. Sow vegetables and slow-start annuals indoors
  4. Prune Fuchsia
  5. Turn Compost
  6. Plant summer flowering bulbs