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Northeast Regional Reports

Plants for Early Spring Color | Northeast Regional Report

It’s difficult to defend a month that has most Northeastern gardeners contemplating a permanent move south. After the injury of February, March is an insult. Even the spring equinox can’t be trusted when it’s followed by a snowstorm. Nonetheless, if we stay put, squint, and adjust our garden plans, March may be, ever so slightly, redeemable.

I don’t expect anyone to cultivate skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus, Zones 4–7), which is best appreciated in the wild. Take a walk in the woods and keep eyes peeled for pointy hooded spathes the color of spoiled meat growing out of stream banks, bogs, and vernal pools. This botanical marvel actually generates heat to bust through ice and snow to offer shelter and sustenance to early pollinators, and its roots contract like a muscle to pull it ever deeper into the ground.

Skunk cabbage pokes its head up.

Look up in…

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