What’s Blooming Now

What’s Blooming: The weather can’t seem to make up its mind, but with the first day of Spring right around the corner, landscapes are starting to light up with color. This week’s addition of “What’s Blooming” features some of our favorite bulbs as well as other staples of Spring!

Daffodils

Sunny DaffodilsAlong with forsythia, Daffodils are widely considered to be the true “ushers of Spring.” Daffodils, the flowers symbolizing friendship, are popular due to their stunning and stately beauty. Daffodils are a hardy and easy perennial that grows in most regions of North America, except in the hottest, wettest areas, such as South Florida.

Daffodils are a fall-planted bulb, so plant them in autumn and they will bloom in late winter or early spring.
Daffodils are suitable for planting between shrubs or in a border; they look great along walkways or a the edge of a patio. They also look at home in a woodland garden and in large groves. You’ll find that many gardeners plant the bulbs not just by the dozens but by the hundreds! Daffodil flowers also make for great cut flowers.

After daffodils bloom in the spring, allow the plants to grow until they die off. Do NOT cut down earlier. They need time after blooming to store energy in the bulbs for next year’s bloom.

Forsythia

A showy, deciduous shrub with a broad, rounded outline on an upright form that absolutely explodes with masses of yellow flowers to herald the arrival of spring. Whether used as an accent close to a patio or as a backdrop off in the distance, this shrub is hard to miss. Forsythia looks beautiful in mass and can be used as a privacy hedge along property lines and streets.

Mostly native to Eastern Asia, Forsythia has been used in Chinese medicine for eons where it is listed among the 50 essential herbs. It is valued chiefly for its antiseptic effect used to treat wounds and boils. Like calendula of the west, forsythia flower petals also contain powerful bacteria fighting properties which make it an important dressing.

Saucer Magnolia

Saucer MagnoliaBeautiful lawn tree with stunning, saucer-shaped white and pink blooms on bare branches. Spectacular shape that makes it a great tree for outdoor lighting. Unlike the traditional Southern variety, Saucer Magnolias are deciduous. Saucer Magnolias come in a variety of sizes, so be sure to choose carefully. Smaller varieties are perfect flowering trees for closer to your patio, while larger ones need to be given room to grow. Also consider varieties that bloom later to avoid frost damage to buds. Flowers have a mild fragrance that can be quite stunning as trees get larger and produce masses of flowers.

Star Magnolia

Star MagnoliaAn early bloomer with large, fragrant, white, double flowers appearing before the foliage emerges in spring. A springtime thriller will that add a nice touch to the landscape as the seasons progress. Useful as an open-branched, multi-trunked large shrub or as a small specimen tree. This is a perfect tree for closer to the patio and looks stunning with outdoor lighting. The scented flowers will create a beautiful ambiance to your patio area during the early days of Spring.

Hyacinth

HyacinthHyacinths are highly fragrant, bell-shaped flowers with reflexed petals. The waxy, densely-packed florets come in shades of white, peach, orange, salmon, yellow, pink, red, purple, lavender and blue. The Hyacinth bulb produces a dense, compact spike of flowers, 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) tall. The common garden Hyacinth, Hyacinth Orientalis, originated in Anatolia and was brought to Europe in the 16th century.

The wild Hyacinth is a native of Turkey and the Middle East, along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Hyacinths were grown in Europe in the time of the Greeks and Romans. Both Homer and Virgil noted its sweet fragrance.

An ancient Greek legend describes the origin of the Hyacinth. Two of the gods, Apollo and Zephyr, adored a handsome young Greek called Hyakinthos. Apollo was teaching Hyakinthos the art of throwing a discus. Zephyr, who was the god of the west wind, was overwhelmed with jealousy and he blew the discus back. It struck Hyakinthos on the head and killed him. From his blood grew a flower, which the sun god Apollo named after him.

Grape Hyacinth

Grape HyacinthGrape hyacinths (Muscari) look much like little miniature hyacinths. These plants are smaller and only get about 6 to 8 inches high. Grape hyacinths grow in sun or light shade, so they’re not too picky. They just don’t like extremes, so don’t plant them where it’s too wet or too dry. Be careful where you plant grape hyacinth bulbs because grape hyacinths spread very quickly. They can be quite invasive. You should plant them where you truly don’t mind them spreading freely.

Muscari, a genus name derived from the Greek word for musk, alludes to the delicious fragrance of many of the brood, which originated mostly in Italy, Greece, North Africa, Turkey, Armenia, and the Caucasus. The flowers of this genus typically cluster like grapes on the stalk, hence the common name grape hyacinth. Some say the folksy name “starch lilies” relates to their aroma, but elsewhere it is said that the bulbs were once used for stiffening linen. In ecclesiastical gardens they’re sometimes labeled as “lent flowers” or “church steeples.”

Crocus

Crocus are one of the first flowers to bloom each spring, with blossoms that often open when there’s still snow on the ground. Their cheery flowers come in Easter egg colors of purple, yellow, lavender, cream and white. Crocus are carefree bulbs that naturalize and multiply to produce more flowers every year.

Crocus can flower any time from late winter to early spring. The buds are stemless and emerge directly from the soil at the same time as the foliage. One day there will be no sign of them and the next day they may be blooming!

Combine crocus with other spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, muscari and hyacinths. Crocus will bloom early and add an extra two weeks to your landscape’s show. Nestle a few crocus bulbs near the edge of a walkway or patio and enjoy their delicate blossoms every spring for years to come.

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Thomas Welker

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