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These plants are noted for their lovely, 1/2- to 1- inch-diameter crystalline white flowers. Resembling little pinwheels, each flower is composed of 6 to 10 colorful sepals spinning around a nub of lime-green and yellow. Their typical color is pure and bright white, but you might find the tinted soft rose Anemonella thalictroides f. rosea at a specialty nursery.
The only member of its genus, rue anemone is a tuberous perennial native to the woodlands of eastern North America. 'Rosea' has pink, fragile, cup-shaped flowers on slender stems from spring to early summer, a long bloom sesaon for a spring wildflower. It often goes dormant in summer. Its flowers resemble a small anemone and its leaves resemble Thalictrum (meadow rue), hence its common name of "rue anemone." Use this delicate, small plant in a shady rock garden, in a woodland or native plant garden, or as underplanting in a shady shrub border
European wild ginger is a low-growing groundcover with glossy, evergreen, heart-shaped leaves. Its unusual purple-brown flowers lie mostly concealed beneath foliage.
This wild ginger is an evergreen groundcover with heart-shaped, shiny leaves that are often marbled. Its interesting brown-purple flowers hide beneath the foliage.
Snow-in-summer is great for rock gardens and dry areas, and also works well as a container plant. Plant it on a stone wall for a cascading effect. Snow-in-summer needs room to perform. A single plant can carpet an area as wide as a yard across. After the flowers fade, the silver/grey foliage shines on in contrast to more predictable shades of green.
Semi-erect, narrowly ovate leaves 7-10 inches long appear in spring and disappear by summer, followed by large, fully double, rosy lilac flowers resembling the blooms of a waterlily.
The saffron crocus blooms in the autumn, producing 1 to 5 rich lilac flowers with dark purple veins, held wide open above inconspicuous foliage.
This autumn-flowering cormous perennial bears long-tubed flowers in shades of violet-blue with deeper blue veins and divided, bright orange styles.
Dutch crocus is one of the hardiest, if not the hardiest, crocus species readily available to home gardeners. A true harbinger of spring, it can be planted in borders, rock gardens, and even lawns. After flowering, the foliage must be left intact until it withers, which may cause lawn-mower anxiety in some gardeners. Often sold as "mixed crocus," cultivars of this species are typically white, lilac, or purple and white striped.
A fine plant for fall, this cyclamen's frequently scented, mottled flowers emerge directly from the soil, followed by a carpet of patterned, mid- to dark green leaves attractively variegated with patterns in white or silver. It often blooms for up to two months. Each small pink or white flower has swept-back petals resembling a dove in flight, marked with maroon at the mouth. It makes a good foliage display all winter after the flowers have faded.
Yellow whitlow grass is a small, semi-evergreen perennial perfect for growing in a trough, rock wall, or xeric bed. It grows to only 4 inches high and twice as wide. This delightful, drought-tolerant miniature has spiny rosettes of lustrous green leaves through the winter and cheerful yellow flowers in early spring.
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.
An early bloomer, liverwort has tiny, cup-shaped, blue, pink, or white flowers in spring. Three-lobed, mottled, mid-green leaves appear after the blooms.
A mass of small purple leaves and abundant golden yellow, bell-shaped flowers distinguish this groundcover. It is useful on slopes as well as in containers.
Mazus reptans is a mat-forming perennial with rosettes of lance-shaped toothed leaves. It spreads quickly through rooting stems. From late spring to mid-summer, it bears 2- to 5-flowered racemes of snapdragon-like purple-blue flowers with lower lips spotted with yellow and red.
This Japanese native is perfect for the rock garden. It is a compact species with blue-green foliage and pink stems, and bears purplish-red flowers in fall. Sedum cauticola grows to about 3 inches tall and a foot wide.
This tough, drought-tolerant species has glossy deep green leaves and, in early summer, half-inch golden yellow flowers that open from pink buds. It grows to about 6 inches tall and a little wider and makes a good groundcover.
This variety is more compact than the species, and its leaves are variegated with creamy margins. In late spring to summer, its star-shaped yellow flowers open from pink buds and mature to crimson. It grows to just 4 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
This is a vigorous, mat-forming evergreen species with small gray-green leaves and terminal clusters of star-shaped, vibrant yellow flowers in summer. The drooping buds face upward when they open. It grows to 4 inches tall and 2 feet across.
This vigorous, mat-forming, evergreen species has electric golden-yellow foliage that holds its color through the heat of summer. The foliage tips sometimes develop an orangey hue. In June and July, 'Angelina' has terminal clusters of star-shaped, vibrant yellow flowers. The drooping buds face upward when they open and the plant can grow to 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide. It is superlative as a groundcover, spilling over rock walls, and in containers. It also makes an excellent accent for plants with dark foliage.
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
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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
PLANTING PLAN: A deer-resistant bed that shines in fall and winter
by Nancy Matthews
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