Garden Photo of the Day

Favorite Spring Blooms

Well-loved blooms of a well-loved season

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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  1. LauraJaneS 04/04/2019

    Colour me jealous: cut flowers are my fave. and it looks like you have a ton to choose from :)

  2. garden1953 04/04/2019

    Very lovely! Hope you will send in your summer flowers photos also. Thank you for sharing.

  3. netouhey 04/04/2019

    What a lovely garden and selection of flowers and shrubs. I particularly love your color palette. May I ask how you take care of your azaleas. Again, congrats on your beautiful garden and thanks for sharing.
    Emmanuel Touhey
    Instagram: @noelemmanueltouhey

  4. netouhey 04/04/2019

    PS Here’s my garden from last year. Enjoy!

    1. User avater
      treasuresmom 04/04/2019

      Emmanuel, you need to submit some more pics.

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/04/2019

    How very interesting to be a flower farmer!

  6. btucker9675 04/04/2019

    Oh my heavens... where to begin? So much beauty and I'm going to try the tip of sowing sweet peas this Fall to see if I have good luck with them next Spring here in NC. My NJ garden had lots of peonies and I had vases full of them all through the house during the bloom season. So beautiful! Thank you for this little garden break in my work day.

  7. User avater
    simplesue 04/04/2019

    Beautiful landscaping, and interesting info on the Peonies and the non stinging wasps! I'm inspired to grow some Foxgloves, after learning from you that they will reseed like my Columbines do, making them pretty carefree, other than transplanting a few wayward seedlings like the "link for tips" says on the Fine Gardening article.

  8. User avater
    devinkoblas 05/07/2019

    Wow! It's Amazing!

  9. User avater
    KevinHuggins 07/16/2019

    Very Nice!

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