Parts of Canada are still snow-covered (at least where I garden), but thankfully it’s March and milder spring weather can’t be far behind. Here are two of my favourite spring plant combinations that would be easy to recreate in most Canadian gardens. The first was inspired by a visit to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania last year; the second is a coincidental pairing from my own garden that I hope to expand upon this year.
Combo One: The spheres of tall alliums (possibly ‘Purple Sensation’) punctuated a planting of frilly mixed columbines (Aquilegia hybrids) in a perennial border at Longwood. Adding sparkle and more soft blue were camassias, a late-blooming spring bulb.
Longwood dismantles its main display borders each season, impractical for home gardeners. If I were recreating this border in my own garden, I would want to extend the colour into summer. By weaving in daylilies, tall veronicas and Verbena bonariensis — all plants with fairly narrow profiles — I would accomplish this, and extend the pink, purple and white colours of this border. Admittedly, the verbena isn’t hardy, but it often self-seeds as long as you’re careful not to weed out the seedlings in early spring.
Combo Two: This was pure serendipity. One fall, I transplanted a clump of unvariegated Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) to fill a bare spot, not realizing dormant snake’s head fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris) were resting there. The following spring, the checkered blooms of the fritillary poked up through the dense bugloss foliage and the blue bugloss and maroon fritillary flowers made a pretty tapestry of rich, saturated colours.
The hardy bulbs mentioned in these two combinations need to be planted in the fall. The perennials (with the exception of the verbena) are hardy to at least Zone 4, and are easy to find in most garden centres.
What’s your favourite spring combination?