Colourful Spring Borders

Plan for Flowers Throughout the Spring

tulipsWith a little careful planning and some imagination you can create an uplifting spring border that begins to flower before the end of winter and provides a constant display of cheerful colour until early summer.

Bulbs are the mainstay of the spring border, but there are many other trouble-free plants that you can use to can use to add extra variety to this colourful display.

Snowdrops and crocuses, daffodils and tulips always deserve a place in the spring border. These and early herbaceous plants form the backbone of this kind of display and can be chosen to flower in succession over a long season.

Early Perennials

One of the easiest spring-flowering perennials to grow is lungwort (Pulmonaria). This flowers very early with blue or pinkish-blue, small, trumpet-like flowers. There are also white and bright pink varieties and the attractive leaves are a bonus. Once this low-growing plant has become established it can easily be divided to make more plants. It likes plenty of moisture and is happy in partial shade.

Forget-me-nots (Myosotis) are next to bloom. They can be found in shades of pink and white as well as the more familiar blue and are traditionally planted with late daffodils and tulips. Forget-me-nots look equally at home in formal borders or in informal cottage garden displays. Grown from seed sown in the previous May, they self-seed after their first spring, and may even need to be thinned out.

Bedding Plants

Primroses sold as indoor plants also grow well outside. They are perennials but are often treated as bedding plants and removed after flowering to make room for summer flowers.

You can grow primroses from seed sown from May to September. Plant out the seedlings in September for early flowering or in early spring for a later show. Old-fashioned varieties, in primrose-yellow, soft pinks, lilacs or pale reds do best in a permanent sheltered but sunny spot.

The universal pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) is another popular bedding plant. It is not sensitive to cold and has a long flowering season. It can be grown from seed.

Scented Plants

For later in the spring, the fragrant wallflower (Cheiranthus cheiri) is available in a range of colours, from cream and yellow to deep red. It is another bedding plant traditionally grown with late daffodils and tulips. For mixed colours, ‘Persian Carpet’ is an excellent full-height variety and ‘Tom Thumb Mixed’ is a good dwarf variety for windy spots or smaller displays.
Wallflowers bloom year after year, but tend to become woody and ‘leggy’, so are best grown as biennials. Sow seeds in May and plant out in the border in October. Alternatively, you can buy ready-grown wall-flowers from a nursery or garden centre.

Auriculas (Primula auricaula) look charming and dainty. These hardy alpine plants will survive in the border year after year, as long as they have good drainage.

Creating Continuous Colour

Milky-white snowdrops and bright yellow winter aconites may bloom even when snow is on the ground, and Anemone blanda, in white, blue, or rarer lilac shades, is not far behind. Crocuses open on the first sunny days, while some species still flower in April. You can choose large or small daffodils (Narcissus) to flower from February until the end of April, and scented jonquils will flower into May. Complete the picture with early-or-late-flowering tulips in a range of sizes and colours. A shrub such as Forsythia gives height in the background and more, early colour.

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