There’s something about this time of year that I find particularly invigorating. Maybe it’s the bright colors of spring-blooming shrubs and perennials, maybe it’s the longer, warmer days, or maybe it’s the smell of fresh-cut grass; whatever it is, you might feel it too. As you get inspired to plant something in your yard this spring, here are a few of my favorite plants for unique color, texture, and flavor.
First, a few of my favorite shade perennials. Admittedly, shade gardening can be something of a challenge—compared with sun-loving plants, the palette of shade lovers is rather limited. That doesn’t mean, however, there’s nothing to grow! One of my favorite shade plants that far too many people have yet to discover is brunnera.
Brunneras, like hostas, are hardy, low-growing perennials that die back to the ground each year. Also like hostas, they come in various leaf color patterns. One major difference, however, is their flower. Hosta flowers can be rather blasé, even ugly. Brunneras, however, have beautiful sky-blue flowers in early- to mid-spring that resemble a forget-me-not. When they’re done blooming, brunneras remain attractive all summer long with slightly fuzzy, heart-shaped leaves. ‘Looking Glass’ has an almost metallic appearance with silver leaves and ‘Jack Frost’ has a similar silvery leaf, accented with bright green veins.
Now, I may be of the opinion that hosta flowers are blasé, but hostas themselves I love! And who wouldn’t? They’re next to impossible to kill, they come in a wide range of colors and textures (as in literally thousands of varieties) and they grow great in shady spots where few other plants will. One of my favorites this spring is a variety fittingly named ‘Electrocution.’ With narrow, wavy green-and-gold leaves that stand nearly upright, you’d swear this variety got zapped. Its unique texture and medium size make it a great candidate for either the garden or containers on a shady porch.
My third pick for the shade garden this spring is another classic perennial made new: ‘Gold Heart’ bleeding heart. First introduced three or four years ago, ‘Gold Heart’ has classic pink bleeding heart flowers paired with striking yellow foliage. Perfect for adding bright color to a dark, shady spot in the yard, I’ve found ‘Gold Heart’ to be a great addition to my own shade garden.
If shade isn’t a big concern for your yard, not to worry—there are plenty of fun plants to enjoy in the sun this spring, and one that’s sure to turn some heads is ‘Burgundy Wine’ nandina. This semi-evergreen shrub has deep burgundy-hued new growth in spring, green leaves in summer and rich red foliage in fall and winter. Growing to just three feet tall and wide, ‘Burgundy Wine’ fits in just about any garden space.
Finally, as you get invigorated to plant something outside, don’t forget about your edibles! Whether you grow herbs in a pot on the patio or have a full-sized vegetable garden, planting season is upon us. Along with vegetables, berries are popular with gardeners—and one look around the county will tell you they grow well here!
This year, you might find an unusual white strawberry labeled ‘Hula Berry’ or ‘Hawaiian Strawberry’ at local garden centers. With a pineapple-like flavor, these interesting berries are actually an improved version of the oldest strawberry in North America, the pineberry. Bearing fruit in summer and just as hardy as other strawberries, Hawaiian strawberries may be a fun way to add a different flavor to your garden this year.
As you get to planting this spring, may you enjoy the many unique colors, textures and tastes of the new season!