Epimediums and ferns in sping.

Planting partners – early spring

As spring arrives, early planting partners find associations that later will either disappear or change with perhaps just one plant dominating.

Epimedium x rubrum
Epimedium x rubrum, Persicaria bistorta and the fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris at the end of April.

The speed of growth in early spring is exciting changing the garden almost daily. Ferns are truly dynamic at this time of the year sometimes shooting up to nearly full size in just a matter of days.

Rodgersia with Smyrnium
Rodgersia podophylla ‘Donard Form’ with the biennial, Smyrnium perfoliatum, mid April.

Biennials are especially useful at this time with honesty (Lunaria annua) and Smyrnium perfoliatum being two of my favourites. In one corner I have a long established patch of rodgersia and the bright yellow smyrnium foliage and flower heads that spring up here every year creating a spectacle as its dark toned leaves rise out of the ground. Within a few weeks the rodgersia foliage is fully expanded, the smyrnium has faded and by late spring the rodgersia flowers will appear to create a totally different garden feature.

Darmera peltata with Tiarella 'Spring Symphany'
Darmera peltata flowering above Tiarella ‘Spring Symhphany’, mid April.

Ground covering perennials such as pulmonarias and Tiarella furnish the borders quickly before other perennials get into their stride. The flowers of Darmera appear on long stalks well before the appearance of its dramatic rounded foliage. Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ is in flower at the same time and makes its perfect planting partner.

Tulips in pots
Tulipa saxatilis (Bakeri Group) ‘Lilac Wonder’ with Tulipa linifolia, end April.

Needless to say this is also the time for tulips and each year I try new ones and old favourites in pots. Rats eat any tulips I plant in the garden and my current experiment is to plant them in deep pots with a thick layer of coarse gravel above. So far this has worked, but the drawback is that the pots can dry out quickly and need regular attention. A small price to pay for such spectacle.