Here in Wisconsin, the snow usually melts some time in March, revealing bare branches and expanses of drab brown leaf litter. I try to include a few evergreens throughout my garden to give the eye some relief throughout the winter.
|Peony Bed and Rose Garden just after snow melt|
The front of the Rose Garden is on the far side of the picture above. The roses are as yet a tangle of bare stems. Thank goodness for the 'Little Gem' Dwarf Spruce (Picea abies) and 'Blue Point' Juniper (Juniperus chinensis). In the foreground is the lovely Dwarf Pine 'Slowmound' (Pinus mugo). The Rose Garden also contains a 'Piccolo' Dwarf Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) and a Yew at the back, not pictured here.
|Crocus vernus 'Yellow Mammoth' bloom in very early Spring|
The first bloom in this area is Crocus vernus 'Yellow Mammoth'. How grateful we are for this searing shot of color at this time! Depending on the year, things may begin to pop in late March or early April.
|Early Spring in the Rose Garden: Little spring bulbs and a flush of new leaves|
About a week later the bright blue flowers of Striped Squill 'Spring Beauty' (Scilla siberica) join in the show. The foliage of some early-growing perennials is starting to warm the scene as well: Heuchera have shining new leaves, and we can see signs of growth on Lady's Mantle and Hardy Geraniums. The daffodils-to-come are pushing up perky green spikes all around.
|Chionodoxa forbesii 'Wedgewood Blue' with Heuchera 'Prince'|
Another very early bloomer is this small patch of Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii) 'Wedgewood Blue'. This particular cultivar is an unusual violet blue shade. I have not seen it for sale anywhere - it was sent to me as a free packet of bulbs. If I could find it I would purchase more - the color makes a nice contrast with purple heuchera.
|Rose Garden in early Spring: Pulsatilla and more early bulbs|
On the other side of the Rose Garden a drift of white hyacinth wafts its sweet scent. A purple Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) is one of the first perennials to flower, and some early daffodils ('King Alfred') are even beginning to bloom in this warm spot as well. The branches of the cotinus are still bare, but new foliage growth can be seen on sedum, lamium, and lamb's ears. Summer-blooming allium bulbs have pushed up an amazing amount of spiky growth in a short time.
|Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant' in April|
More Glory-of-the-snow are carpeting the floor in the back corner of the Garden. This is Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant', a plant of delicate pink coloring that I am not able to capture easily on camera. It always ends up looking very washed out in photographs, while in reality it suffuses the area with a soft warm pink glow. The pink color looks nice with the bare red stems of the nearby barberry, with the dark green yew as a background. It also complements the minty green foliage of lamium 'Orchid Frost':
|Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant'|
As you can see, the Rose Garden has charm even in early spring, when roses are still nothing but a gleam in the gardener's eye! I love this time of year, but cannot help looking forward to May... which will bring peonies!