January is a great time to peruse plant catalogs and choose some new perennials to bring pizzazz to the spring garden. After a long winter, I am outside every day in early spring, watching the rapid changes in the garden as the perennials start poking out of the ground. And every year I wish that I had more plants for this delightful season!
Here are ten intriguing plants to add to our Zone 5-6 gardens this year:
From White Flower Farm
Pulmonaria ‘Silver Bouquet’
A silver-leaved Lungwort that shines in shade, this new pulmonaria is mildew resistant with lance-shaped silver foliage and flowers that change from pink to blue.
Blooms in April-May, height 7”, full or part shade, deer resistant
Polygonatum odoratum ‘Double Stuff’
Just what you need to brighten up a shady spot! This variegated Solomon’s Seal has foliage with very broad white margins, and fragrant white blooms in early spring.
Blooms in May, height 18”, full or part shade
Helleborus Winter Thriller ‘Ballerina Ruffles’
A hellebore with fluffy 2-3” double-petaled blossoms in gorgeous shades of pink with purple speckles. This vigorous cultivar features exceptionally large, outfacing flowers and thick, sturdy stems.
Blooms in March, height 18”, full or part shade
From Bluestone Perennials
Heucheras, also known as Coral Bells, retain their brightly colored leaves throughout the winter, so they are wonderful plants for the spring garden. This variety has spicy, hot paprika colored foliage with silver veining that will add bold flair to your garden. White flowers hover above the blazing leaves.
Foliage color all year, blooms in early summer, height 8”, full sun to part shade
Helleborus Winter Jewels Amethyst Gem
A hellebore with amethyst-rose double flowers margined in opal. The finely sculpted blossoms brave cooler temperatures to become one of the first gifts of spring.
Blooms in March, height 12”, full or part shade
From Plant Delights Nursery
Glanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’
There are more than 70 varieties of snowdrops in cultivation, but only a few are sold in the US. This award-winning snowdrop has a dangling white bell composed of several floral layers, each green edged in white. A delightful addition to the early spring garden!
Bloom in early March, height 6”, sun to part shade
From Arrowhead Alpines
I saw this plant for the first time on a garden tour in Boylston in July and was really impressed! Another specimen brought to the US by Dan Hinkley from Sichuan, China, this is a beautiful groundcover for the woodland garden. Glossy, heart-shaped purple-tinged evergreen leaves form dense rosettes, and are topped with spires of white flowers.
Blooms mid to late spring, height 18”, full to part shade
Lathyrus is a non-climbing, clump-forming perennial sweet pea with showy pink flowers and light green leaves. A low-maintenance plant that dazzles in the shady border!
Blooms in April, height 12”, full to part shade
Arrowhead Alpines features a stunning 57 varieties of primulas (primroses). These are not the primroses that you find in the grocery store and that rarely return year after year. Primroses are a huge, diverse genus with flowers in every color of the rainbow. Although some species prefer cool, moist conditions, there are quite a few that can take the heat and dryness of the summer. It is worth browsing through this large collection of varieties and choosing a few to try in your own garden this spring.
I hope this list inspires you to add a few new varieties to your spring garden!