One of the first perennials to bloom in my zone 5 garden is Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ as well as the pink version. The tiny heart shaped flowers dangle in beautiful rows announcing the arrival of spring. They are especially lovely when covered with water droplets from soft April rain showers. This easy to grow perennial needs full to partial shade and will go dormant later in summer unless kept moist, so plant it behind other shade perennials such as hosta or ferns for a beautiful combination.
The sudden onset of hot weather combined with windy conditions means it’s time to start watering. Irrigation systems should be running to deliver at least an inch of water a week. Soaker hoses work well in perennial and vegetable gardens – and a good layer of mulch will help keep the moisture in the soil.
Now is the time to remove the pesky leaves that were missed last fall, rake out any flower beds, pull up any weeds emerging from hard to reach places and get down that fresh layer of mulch. Mulch not only holds in moisture and keeps down weeds but also breaks down over time to improve soil structure. If necessary, send off a soil sample to be tested and be sure you are applying the correct type of fertilizer to your vegetable garden and/or perennial gardens and lawn areas. Now is also the time to start seeds indoors for planting after danger of frost is past.
Every spring the early daffodils and crocus pop up in my garden to signal the start of a new season. I never tire of seeing the bright colors emerge. Although the local deer will eat my yew bushes, rhododendrons, holly and their favorite – tulips, they never touch the daffodils or crocus.
I suggest you plant them in large groups in the fall in a position where they will be taken over by the foliage of spring perennials such as daylillies, hosta, taller sedums, geraniums, etc. and let them brighten your springs for years to come.
Many would say that Dahlias are truly the best flowers for the end of summer through the fall. They are tubers which require a bit of work in the spring to plant, and at the end of the season to dig up, but they perform like no other flower. Coming in all sizes, colors and many forms these flowers are knockouts in the garden and are long lasting and beautiful in arrangements. Plant a few next spring in full sun to perk up your garden in the late summer when other perennials are fading. They also work well in containers.