Ready for spring? Me too! I'm anxiously monitoring the fattening buds of my favorite spring bloomers as I take my daily garden strolls—between rain showers!
If you're also longing for the sight and smell of early blooms, these plant combo ideas will deliver that and then some—they'll contribute colorful spring flowers and remain attractive for months afterward. The planting combination recipes we include on the eGardenGo site tend to focus on vignettes that provide multiple seasons of interest via one or more contributions in the form of showy blooms, attractive foliage, pleasing fragrance and/or other aesthetic considerations.
To get you started, we've singled out plant combos that include these springtime favorites: hellebores, Itoh peonies, primula, wallflowers, and we'll highlight a few fragrant early blooming shrubs. You'll see that you can have it all, spring blooms and a garden vignette that won't fizzle after its spring sizzle.
Shrubs with Fragrant, Early Season Blooms
When the sweet scents of Sarcococca and winter daphne fill the air, it's a welcome signal that spring isn't far behind. The blooms on these evergreen shrubs aren't especially showy, but they're both valuable additions to the year-round garden for their contribution of structure. Sarcococca is also valued for its tough and durable constitution—it does well in deep, dry shade and plants that can do that are part of a short, elite list. Both of the winter daphne pictured above have a gold margin on their leaves that can accentuated by partnering with another plant with yellow foliage, but look for the variety D. 'Mae-jima' if you feel like spotlighting the bright golden tones.
On the other hand, the clustered blooms on bare branch of the Edgeworthia chrysantha are a main attraction, though the blue-green foliage that follows is quite attractive too. The most widely grown and readily available paperbush is the yellow blooming variety though if your taste runs towards the more unusual, E. 'Red Dragon' is worth hunting down.
Combos that Include Fragrant Winter Blooming Shrubs
A Dizzying Array of Pretty Faces
There's a delightful and dizzying variety when it comes to the blooms of Helleborus x hybridus and many a gardener has found themselves smitten by these collectable winter bloomers: "Surely, I have room for just one more" sound familiar? Valued for their hardy constitution and for bringing color to the garden when we're hungry to see it in late winter, early spring.
Now is the perfect time to shop for them while the selection is good at the nurseries and while you can select the blooms that please you most. Look for those with blooms that face outward or situate them on a slope to get a better view. A classic way to appreciate the variety in their pretty faces is by floating the cut blooms face up in a shallow bowl.
A maintenance tip that will help you to get the most enjoyment out the blooms: in late winter, as the blooms stalks begin to emerge from its base, cut away last year's foliage to get the best view of the blooms.
Combos that include Helleborus x hybridus
Focus: Mixed Border, Small Space, Seasonal Flow, Low Maintenance, Four Season Garden, Front Yard Garden, Contrasting Foliage and Texture
Exposure: Part Sun, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Bright Shade
Zone: 6, 7, 8
Handsome Foliage and Fantastic Flowers
These hellebores pictured above are selected (almost) as much for foliage as flower. Their blooms aren't shabby by any means, though they don't tend to be as intricate, showy or as collectable as illustrated by the array of Helleborus x hybrids examples shown above. You'll find a lot of variety in the offerings which draw upon a number of different species including H. argutifolius, H. x ballardiae, H. x ericsmithii, H. foetidus, H. niger, and H. sternii. Yup, it's a big family with lots of garden-worthy members.
In the plant combos featured below the foliage is an important asset that contributes to the overall scene long after the blooms fade.
Combos that Include Hellebores with Fantastic Foliage
Focus: Contrasting Foliage and Texture, Color Theme, Flower Fest, Mixed Border, Seasonal Flow
Exposure: Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun
Zone: 7, 8
Blowzy and Bodacious Blooms
The large, exotic blooms of the Itoh peonies are somewhat fleeting but all is forgiven when the exquisite flowers unfurl—their beauty is unparalleled. They're quite floriferous and the abundant blooms are excellent in cut flower arrangments. The Itoh, aka Intersectional, peonies are a cross between a tree peony and the familiar, old fashioned herbaceous peony. These vigorous growers with handsome, disease-resistant foliage get about 3 feet tall and wide in the garden and garden performance improves with each passing year.
Combos that Include Itoh Peonies
Focus: Color Theme, Contrasting Foliage and Texture, Flower Fest, Mixed Border
Exposure: Full Sun, Sun, Part Sun
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Sweet and Fleeting
Nothing fresher in spring than the delicate, crisp and cool blooms of primula. While they appear fragile, they're quite hardy and reliably return year after year. Don't be alarmed if they fade by summer and die away—summer dormancy is part of their normal cycle.
Combos that Include Primula
Showy and Bright Spring Bloomers
These wallflowers are anything but—their vivid display of multicolored blooms are the life of the spring party!
Combos that Include Wallflowers
But don't forget that you can search our site for even more ideas. For example, search for a plant that you want to grow or already have in your garden, and the site will give you ideas of what to plant with it. Or filter plants and combos based on the growing conditions or garden jobs they'll be asked to perform. You can even take the more freeform, dreamy approach of browsing the site until you find a plant or combo that catches your eye, then follow the links to explore associated plant combo recipes.
Whatever way you choose to explore the site, have fun and let us know what you're working on in your garden!