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Dreams of Sugarplums and Early Spring Blooms

Dreams of Sugarplums and Early Spring Blooms

By Dan Heims, President, Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

Well, campers, with all the Christmas insanity around us, it’s hard to get a horticultural word in edgewise! Despite some very cool garden tools on the Santa list (Dan wants the stainless plug transplanting tongs…hint hint), we can certainly dream and plan on the earliest bloomers in the garden. Every garden center is pushed to the gills with many fine hellebore selections, so Dan chose three different and alternate genera that are amongst the earliest to bloom, pleasing our color-starved winter eyeballs.

All three genera are hardy from USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4-9 and tolerate average to moist soil conditions. All three would appreciate protection from the late afternoon sun, and the pulmonaria can handle a fair amount of shade. They importantly provide food for the earliest pollinators who are just emerging and desperate for that first sip of nectar. 

In the garden you can use these in containers or front to middle of the border. The bergenia is one of those plants that can tolerate drought as well as wet feet. While any color is appreciated in early spring, the pulmonaria has extremely silvered leaves which light up a dark area. They are especially beloved by bumble bees, but hummingbirds will go after the nectar as well.

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Geum TEMPO 'Rose

A new favorite! This early bloomer produces a plethora of dark, rose-pink flowers on short, dark stems. This easy to grow plant has a long bloom time allowing pollinators to enjoy this gem for months. Hardy in zones 4-9 and can bloom from April till June! In full sun it can grow to 12” tall and 21” tall while in flower. An English plantsman growing the Tempo® series stated that the foliage on this plant was such an improvement and so attractive, that he would grow it for the lush foliage alone! Doesn’t mind moist feet. Use in containers or front to middle of the border.

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Bergenia VINTAGE™ ‘Pink’

A stellar performer in containers and in the garden. Medium-small jade to emerald green foliage looks great even during the summer months. Flowering in early spring, VINTAGE™ Pink puts on a fantastic display of rose pink flowers in huge clusters. The waxy flowers last for over a month and have a light fragrance also. Hardy in zones 4-9 and can bloom from February to April! In full sun it can grow to 12” tall and 12” wide while in flower. Bergenia prefer good drainage and even moisture in their first year. Use in the front to middle of the border. Tolerates full sun but grows best in partial shade. Pig-squeaks, which is their common name, are quite long-lived.

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Pulmonaria ‘Moonshine’

Our flashiest pulmonaria, with great garden vigor, compact growth habit, and mildew-resistance. Shimmering silver-white leaves are rounded with a thin edge of darkest green. Heat and humidity tolerance make it a good choice for the South. One of the favorites of the entire Terra Nova® breeding team! Small, pale, blue-white flowers. Hardy in zones 4-9 and can bloom from April until May. In full to part shade, it can grow to 15” tall and 20” wide and tall while in flower. Like all puls, it prefers good drainage and even moisture in its first year. That’s why they grow so well in containers. They really brighten up a dark corner of the garden.

Dan Heims is an award-winning author who lectures throughout the world. He was recently honored by The American Horticultural Society with the Luther Burbank Breeding Award, as well as the Perennial Plant Association’s Award of Merit. He was also honored in receiving the Royal Horticultural Society’s Reginald Cory Cup for advancements in breeding.

You may contact Dan at [email protected].

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

Now is the time to shop for annuals that will go the distance all summer. Suntory Flowers has a portfolio of gorgeous varieties that thrive in the heat. To learn more, click here for an interesting article.

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