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The giant snowdrop has larger flowers and broader leaves than the more common G. nivalis, but grows to the same 4 inches tall and wide. Its white, nodding blooms appear in late winter, signalling spring around the corner.
Snowdrops are some of the earliest bulbs, and flowers in general, to bloom in spring. Galanthus nivalis is the most common species, and its cultivars are the most commonly grown snowdrops on the market. They are reliably hardy and perennial. They grow to 4 inches tall and wide and flower in mid- to late winter, long before most other plants. They are the first sign of spring around the corner. Flowers are nodding and white.
A native of South Africa, summer hyacinth sends up spikes of lovely white flowers in late summer amidst dark green, strap-like foliage, when many other perennials are done blooming. The tall spikes are fragrant and especially dramatic planted with darker foliage or flowers.
English ivy is a self-clinging climber or trailing perennial with almost flat, palmately 5-lobed leaves. Cultivars are available with varying leaf form, color, and variegation, as well as use and climbing habit.
This vigorous vine quickly reaches 20 feet tall and thrives on neglect. The greenish yellow, conelike flowers smell like beer. It can scramble along the ground or grow up screens and trellises.
'Aureus' is a fast-growing, twining perennial with roughly hairy shoots and deeply lobed, maple-like leaves in a luminous, clear shade of yellow. Clusters of subtle, fragrant, greenish yellow flowers add texture in summer and mature to pendent, papery, cone-shaped fruits.
This bulb blooms in early summer with striking, sweetly-scented white and yellow flowers that appear on leafless stems up to 24 inches tall. Petals curve up to accent a daffodil-like cup, sometimes with green-striped tubes. Peruvian daffodil has long, strap-shaped, arching, dark green leaves.
This sweet potato vine has lime green leaves that light up in the sunlight and look paler in part shade. 'Margarita' is a real eye-catcher growing over the edge of a wall or creeping along the fringes of a border. -Julia Jones, Designing with Annuals, Fine Gardening issue #120
This sweet potato vine is blessed with leaves that are edged in pink. Use it in containers, as a groundcover, or in beds and borders. Growing it with pink-flowered plants calls attention to the variegation.
This tender tuberous perennial with heart-shaped, lobed, almost black leaves bears trumpet-shaped lavender to pale purple flowers. It is excellent in containers or weaving among other plants in beds and borders.
This unusual annual vine can add vertical interest to the garden. Its vivid blossoms (red tooth-like flowers that fade to orange and then yellow and white) are a hummingbird magnet. Firecracker vine can bloom year round in warm climates, but generally blooms from summer to fall. It is a native of Mexico and Central and South America. -Julia Jones, Designing with Annuals, Fine Gardening issue #120
An annual twining climber with deeply cut, feather-fine leaves, cypress vine bears rich red inch-wide blossoms. Slender-tubed starry flowers are beautifully set off by gossamer foliage and stay open all day long.
Morning glory is a fast-growing, twining annual with heart-shaped light to mid-green leaves and vibrantly colored, funnel-shaped flowers to 3 inches across. Cultivars include white-colored ‘Pearly Gates’; ‘Heavenly Blue’; crimson-colored, white-throated ‘Crimson Rambler’; and ‘Flying Saucers’, a batik-looking blend of white and blue accented by a golden throat.
Tall bearded iris tolerates dappled shade, but full sun promotes maximum flowering of deep red blooms. Spring or fall is the time to deadhead and cut the foliage back. This perennial makes a wonderful backdrop to spring bulbs. ‘Rip City’ is just one of hundreds of cultivars of tall bearded iris.
This beardless, crestless iris produces blooms in midspring that are the color of terra cotta. Quick growing, with long, swordlike foliage, this plant attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and works well in beds and borders.
This vigorous perennial climber bears clusters of plum-colored flower buds that open into fragrant, pinky-purple blossoms. They age to lilac and white, giving older flowers a two-toned effect. Blooms mature to glossy, burgundy bean pods that remain colorful for several weeks.
One of the first plants to emerge, this 24-inch-tall bulb bears nodding white bells as early as mid-January. Blooms are faintly chocolate-scented; leaves are glossy, erect, and strap-shaped.
Often used by florists and for weddings, 'Casa Blanca' lily has large, pure white, scented flowers.
The first true double-flowering Oriental lily, this plant has delicate pinkish white blooms that open in July and August. They are as stunning in the mixed border as they are in the vase. Each bloom has 18 beautiful petals, making it unique among Oriental lilies.
Often used by florists, 'Star Gazer' lily has bright crimson flowers with purple spots and dark edges. These lilies grow to about 3 feet tall, so they generally don't need staking.
Alliums All Season Long
Deer resistant and dynamic, these bulbs provide color from the first showers of spring to the last leaves of fall
by Stephanie Cohen
Find out what all the buzz is about by planting these colorful perennials
by Sally Roth
10 Shrubs for Summer Color
These vibrant bloomers give even the showiest annuals and perennials a run for their money
by Paul Cappiello
Enchanting Japanese Maples
Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
by Francie Schroeder
Q&A Moving houseplants outdoors for the summer
by Tim Pollak
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