Pacific Northwest Regional Reports

Tips for the Best Spring Ephemeral Displays

Kick your spring show up a notch with these plant recommendations and techniques

‘Phesant’s Eye’ daffodil
A circle of red draws the eye to the center of ‘Pheasant’s Eye’ daffodil. Photo: Jason Jorgensen

Late April is a great time for enjoying the last spring ephemerals and early-blooming spring shrubs in the garden. This time of year, the energy of the garden of imminent new growth is buzzing in our ears! Like you, I have spent much more time on walks in my neighborhood lately, enjoying what nature and our fellow gardeners have assembled for us. Even at this time of year, gardens are like a box of crayons; every color is on display. Below are a few favorites that are really stealing the scene in the Pacific Northwest right now.

‘Bronze Charm’ tulips
‘Bronze Charm’ tulips bloom next to some wine-colored hellebores (Helleborus orientalis, Zones 4–9) in this spring border planting. Photo: Jason Jorgensen

Add the captivating ‘Bronze Charm’ tulip for a shock of contrast

‘Bronze Charm’ tulip (Tulipa batalinii ‘Bronze Charm’, Zones 3–8) is a species tulip with lovely pale peach flowers. The dark stamens really pop against the light color of the petals. They contrast nicely with other blooming flowers and stand great alone en masse. These tulips open and close daily during the flowering season, so if you see them later in the day they may be closed.

Primroses are a good choice for a cut flower to bring indoors. Photo: Jason Jorgensen

Sweet-smelling primroses naturalize well and can be divided easily

Some quite charming, albeit common, plants in many gardens are primroses (Primula spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9). They sparkle in the spring garden in a variety of colors. I really enjoy the pale yellow ones. The primrose you see above that grows in my garden and was a gift from a gardening friend has naturalized nicely into a few larger clumps. If your own primrose clumps are becoming dense, then right after flowering is the best time to lift and divide them. You’ll have so many you may want to give some away. As a bonus, many common primroses (Primula vulgaris, Zones 4–8) are scented. So if you want to pick a few for a small spring bouquet to display indoors, do it! It’s a nice way to bring the outside in on those still cool spring days.

‘Thalia’ daffodil
Pure white ‘Thalia’ daffodil makes a striking picture no matter what it grows next to. Photo: Jason Jorgensen

Research daffodil cultivars for an extra kick of color to your spring displays

Late April is prime time for daffodils (Narcissus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9). We’ve been fortunate to have had a great spring in the Pacific Northwest. Sunny, bright, and sometimes warm days paired with cool crisp nights make a great combination for daffodils to last a long time in bloom. There are so many varieties and groups of daffodils, one could spend an entire spring researching and discovering new ones. One great website for research is the Daffodil Society. Some of my favorites on display right now are the pure white ‘Thalia’, the orange-and-red-cupped ‘Pheasant’s Eye’, and the lovely salmon pink–cupped ‘Salome’.

‘Salome’ daffodils
‘Salome’ daffodils mix shades of creamy white with a deep salmon pink. Photo: Jason Jorgensen

Enjoy the nature that is around you at this moment. Now is the time to get our gardens ready for the season and to appreciate and learn about the nature that surrounds us. You’ll be surprised at what you notice.

—Jason Jorgensen is a landscape designer in Seattle.

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