Sunday, March 2, 2014

Is Spring in the Air? Maybe-Maybe Not Yet

"In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours."
-Mark Twain

Yellow Primrose
I think we thought Spring was just around the corner, but you wouldn't know it. Snow days the middle of the week and those bone-chilling temperatures in the teens or below. Most of the schools in the County were closed Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week due to the poor weather conditions. And now they are calling for more winter storms over quite a bit of the Country. This one is called Winter Storm Titan.

Well, we still have to think about Spring. It will be here and when it gets here we'll forget about all the snow we had this past winter. We have short term memories when we think in terms of weather. Can you remember the sweltering days of summer last year in the 90 degree heat with high humidity, and you were looking for solace under the shade tree in your yard or your air conditioned home? Probably not. . .

Well, we know one thing for certain: the seasons always change. Without fail. We always have Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Sometimes certain seasons don't last as long as we'd like them to though. We are blessed in the Northeast to experience all these glorious seasons. Each one makes us appreciate the next one on the horizon. After a snow-filled winter we are all looking forward to some nice warm, sunny days with the robins singing, the "peepers" chirping, and the smell of fresh earth drying out after a winter-long snow cover. And the first time the grass is cut in the spring always brings a smile to your face from the sweet, refreshing smell.

Thought I would share with you some of my favorite, and easy care spring perennials in this post.

Purple Primroses
Primroses (Primula). One of the first spring perennials to appear and flower are the primroses. They are a small, little cluster plant. The flowers appear sometimes when there is still snow or ice on the ground. They don't get very tall, maybe 8" most. And they are not invasive. Tight little clumps that you can split up and divide for more plants. I found that I have the best luck with the yellow and purple ones. They come in other colors like pink, white, and reds. Primroses like shady, moist areas with rich soil. I didn't realize that they didn't do that well in sunny areas until I transplanted some in the sun. They just about withered and died out in the sun until I transplanted them. Primroses do best in Hardiness Zones 2-8. The Japanese Primroses are a little taller and do best in waterlogged soil.

I think this year I'll try dividing up some of my clumps and plant them under pine trees in my back yard or in between some hostas. They will be up and flowering before the hostas even pop up out of the ground.

During dry weather you will want to keep your primroses well-watered. Primroses do well partnered with astilbes, hostas, forget-me-nots, and pulmonarias. You can plant them with ferns, but I have found that some ferns can be invasive with their runners and crowd out the smaller perennials such as the primroses.

Some primroses are referred to as cowslips. Cowslips are a native of Europe and Asia and are also referred to as English cowslips. They are frequently found in more open areas such as fields and meadows. They are usually the tall yellow variety. It is considered a wild flower in England. They are a valuable food source for bees.

Hellebores. Another spring flower is the Lenten or Christmas Rose. The Latin name is Hellebores. Depending on your hardiness zone some bloom early around Christmas and others in the early spring around Lent (the time before Easter). The flowers are rose-shaped, and they last quite awhile on the plant (blooms can last up to one month). The flowers are mostly white with shadings of pink on them, but they also come in other colored varieties. As the flower gets older it has a tendency to darken.

Hellebores or Lenten Rose
Hellebores will grow in hardiness zones 4-9. They also grow in shade or partial shade. They grow in clumps and when they are in full bloom they are about 1'-2' tall, and about 1'+ wide. They are suited to woodland gardens or work well with foundation plantings too. They prefer a rich, moist soil, but will rot if it's too wet. The hellebores re-seed very well and if you look around your plant after a few years you should see little seedlings underneath the parent plant. It can take a few years before they germinate and sprout so you need patience. When you do see some seedlings under the plant you can transplant these to other areas of your garden, but be sure to keep them watered until they get established. These plants require very little care. In the spring, cut back the old, withered foliage. Some varieties do not divide well and you will be better off starting them from seed.

This is about three clumps of bleeding hearts.
Dicentra or Bleeding Hearts. Probably one of my most favorite perennials is the bleeding heart. I think it might have been one of the first perennial plants I purchased as well. This plant has been so hardy for us. I don't know how many times I've divided it, and I have a lot of these plants that have gone to seed. I've transplanted them in quite a few places around our yard, and it almost looks like they have naturalized.

Bleeding Hearts
This plant does very well in moist shade. It will grow in some sun, but will die back faster earlier in the season. It likes the cool weather. In some areas of the Country it may bloom at other times during the season too.  I find the white bleeding hearts to be more tender than the pink ones. There is also a dwarf variety too. The bleeding hearts can grow from 6" to 2' depending on the variety. Bleeding hearts usually die back in summer so don't be alarmed if you see them turning yellow and drying out before fall. When this happens just cut them back and next spring they will be blooming again for you. This perennial will do best in Hardiness Zones 2-9.

White Bleeding Heart

It won't be long now and the nurseries and stores will be stocking their shelves with perennials and annuals for your gardens.

United States Hardiness Zone Map: US Hardiness Zones

I see it! I see Spring! Can you see it? Look closely, it's on the horizon. 

Breitbeck Park, Oswego, New York

Thanks for stopping by. 
Hope you enjoyed it. 
Feel free to leave a comment.


  1. We had a cold, snowy day today, but the sun was bright and the skies blue. I too thought Spring was winking at us from afar.

    1. It doesn't look like we're going to have an early spring this year, but you just never know. If/when the temperatures warm up things can change around pretty fast.

  2. Fabulous spot of spring near the lake :) I love your spring perennial choices...can't wait to see who will bloom first.

    1. Yes, spring is great near the lake. It's nice when the ice is all gone and all you see is the endless blue.