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Spring Into Spring With These Early Bloomers

Spring Into Spring With These Early Bloomers

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

Hey campers. Do you know that feeling? Which one? The one where you stroll through your frozen mess of a garden... and there it is! The first sign of spring: A poke of pink, a shoot of green. Winter is over and your heart skips a beat over the prospect of a garden... awakened.

The early birds like Galanthus, Bergenia, Tiarella and Pulmonaria seem to burst into a riot of color after the grey days of winter. And sorry, they are not blooming for you, they are blooming for the first pollinators, the groggy bumblers, the sodden honeybees, and the hyperactive hummers. All are competing for that first sip of nectar and those precious grains of pollen that are the bread on the table for so many. It is you, the steward of the garden who lays the feast out for these hardy explorers.

Terra Nova’s breeders have transformed a sparse flowering pile of pig squeaks (Bergenia) into elegant angels, with compact, purple foliage and scads of flowers that make a hummingbird smile. Lusty lungworts (Pulmonaria) have been transformed into sumptuous bouquets of silvered foliage with large clusters of color-changing flowers. They also offer an amazing bleeding heart (Dicentra) that laughs at hot weather and casts repeat flowerings of ice-white flowers from lacy blue leaves. Want pink flowers with that foliage? They are happy to oblige.

Let us have a peek at some of the absolute best.

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Bergenia VINTAGE™ Blush

This gem harkens back to older types of Bergenia that have survived in gardens for a century without care. It has medium-sized, paddle-shaped foliage in a rich pine-green color that deepens with wintry weather. The spring bloom is amazing; substantial numbers of flowering stems that are branched with several layers of flowers that are long lasting. 'Blush' features a cascading style of flower truss; upright with flowers held like an orchid. Lovely blush pink flowers have a deep rose-colored eye. An easy and sturdy landscape plant. Height is 15 inches in flower and the spread is about 16 inches on this “vintage” selection. Happiest in half to full sun, it will reward users from USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 to 9 with flowers from February to April!

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Bergenia VINTAGE™ Rose

A very solid plant. Large clusters of bright, magenta-rose flowers are held just above the lovely small, green foliage. Excellent scale in every aspect. The ratio of flowers to foliage is great, as is the complementing flower and foliage color. The rich, moss green foliage deepens in the winter and adds a beautiful burgundy halo around the edges of the foliage. Another rock hardy, easy to grow garden subject. Hardy from zones 4 to 9. Looks great in a container or rock garden or the front of a border with a height of only 12 inches and a spread of 14 inches. It flowers in half to full sun from February to April like all of Terra Nova’s Bergenia.

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Dicentra AMORE ‘Titanium'

Absolutely one of the most pure, true white flowers we have seen in ages. The floral display of this Dicentra is stunning against the soft blue-green foliage. Exceptional vigor and easy culture make this new bleeding heart a garden essential. AMORE™ 'Titanium' arose as a spontaneous mutation of the popular AMORE™ 'Pink' and it is a knockout. As with all the AMORE™'s, they are very heat resistant and flower for many months, spring through summer. Grow AMORE™ 'Titanium' in the sun, or for an elegant woodlander, in the shade. It is common to see it bloom from April to October in Oregon! Hardiness has been established at zones 5 to 9. Plants can spread 18 inches wide by nine inches tall and flowers rise to 14 inches.

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Pulmonaria 'Silver Bouquet'

This plant has it all: Pulmonaria cevennensis breeding for mildew-resistance, heat, and humidity tolerance with large coral to pink to violet flowers that “look at you.” Spectacular silver foliage makes this a winner! It will reward users from zones 4 to 9 with flowers from March (in Oregon) to May! Spreads to 20 inches wide and is a mere 10 inches tall in flower. It is fun to see the hummingbirds do low dives to sip at its flowers! Grow in part to full shade. It truly lights up a dark area.

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Pulmonaria 'Silver Scimitar'

Large, arching, straplike leaves in silver-green with wavy edges. Full landscape-sized plant, vigorous and fast, 'Silver Scimitar' has a stately presence (and mildew resistance) thanks to its Pulmonaria cevennensis breeding. Emerges each spring in a tight mound covered in bicolor pink and purple flowers, an early season hummingbird favorite. Performs well in both shade and half sun, perfect for borders and edges. Hardiness has been recognized at zones 4 to 9. Plants can spread 22 inches wide by eight inches tall and flowers rise to nine inches. Flowers appear in multicolored masses from April through May.

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 honored by 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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