Can you read the signs below, and foretell what's coming? Early
spring beauties can develop and change so quickly. We hope you
don't miss any of them.
Take a look, make your guess, then click on the picture for the
(Mertensia virginica) begins the season full of
blue-violet anti-freeze but quickly greens up, then delights us
with dangling bell flowers that progress from pink to baby blue. A
spring ephemeral native to partly shaded wooded sites in much of
eastern North America. Its fade-away (gone by mid-summer) makes it
a good partner for later-emerging hosta, blue bush clematis (C.
heracleifolia) or Japanese painted fern (Athyrium
Sweet Solomon's seal
In its white-edged form (Polygonatum odoratum
'Variegatum'), there are few plants for the shady garden that
receive -- and deserve -- so much attention. It's also distinctive
as it emerges in spring.
Ural false spirea
This suckering shrub is native to the Ural Mountains in Siberia
so we shouldn't be surprised that it's one of the earliest plants
to leaf out and least often damaged by cold. Its buds broke weeks
ago, prompted by lengthening days and oblivious to the cold.
Despite nights in the single digits, there's not a bit of dead
tissue on that emerging shoot.
The shoot's red highlights come from anthocyanins, naturally
produced compounds that help keep cell contents from freezing. Like
other plants that leaf out in ruddy tones, a Ural false spirea will
be green by summer.
The Ural false spirea grows to 8 feet tall and suckers as wide
as you allow. Variety 'Sem' is somewhat more compact. It blooms
well in sun and part shade. The white plume flowers develop in late
June and July.
If deadheaded, the shrub will bloom into fall, attracting
butterflies all the while.