Today’s photos come from Tara Messina, who is a flower farmer in Connecticut and also gardens for private estate clients. She shares some of her favorite spring flowers from her own garden and some from clients’ gardens. She says that hellebores are her favorite spring bloom because they are the earliest and are so welcome after winter.
Clouds of azaleas (Rhododendron species and hybrids) coming into bloom. These shrubs are an iconic part of spring in climates and soils where they thrive, and I love the way these are growing in a carpet of contrasting blue flowers (probably Spanish bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica, Zones 3–8).
Another view of spring azaleas, with the red new growth on a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9) perfectly echoing the warm tones of the azalea flowers.
Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea, Zones 4–8)! These classic flowers aren’t grown too often these days because they are biennials, but if you sow seeds every year, you’ll have them blooming every spring, and in many gardens they will self-sow, so you will always have them around. (See here for tips on managing self-sowing plants in the garden.)
What is spring without peonies (Paeonia species and hybrids, Zones 3–8)? They are wonderful in the garden and maybe even better enjoyed in a vase. As an added bonus, peony buds provide nectar that feeds a tiny, nonstinging wasp that is a natural predator of Japanese beetles.
Hellebores (Helleborus orientalis, Zones 4–9)—tolerant of shade, deer resistant, drought tolerant, and super early to bloom. What’s not to love about hellebores? There is now a huge range of different colors and forms available. (See our tips on choosing the best hellebore for your garden.)
Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus, annual) need cool temperatures to thrive. In the North, plant them as early as possible in the spring to give them plenty of time to grow before the heat of summer sets in. If you live in around Zone 7 or warmer, you can sow them in the fall for the best plants the following spring.
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