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Creating a colorful spring garden

© / Rich Legg © / Rich Legg

By Coletta Neske

After months of enjoying a cold winter landscape, spring and its bounty of color bring cheer to the garden. If you want to really celebrate the changing of the seasons with a vibrant spring garden, you'll want to choose specific plants known for their breathtaking shades.

Ideal Home Garden spoke with Jean Potuchek, a garden blogger at Jean’s Garden, on how to make your spring garden pop with vibrant color.

Designing a Flower Bed

The first step in designing a colorful flower bed is to select a location and decide on the size of the flower bed.

Most flower beds and borders should be made larger than the gardener initially thinks,” said Jean. “And, it is important to have plants of an appropriate scale for the size of the bed or border.

Before planning for flowers in the garden, gardeners should also have some understanding of their growing conditions.

“I like to do a photographic study of how much sunlight there is at each hour of the day before I plan a new flower bed,” offered Jean.

Knowing the location and amount of the sun is just one factor that determines the type of flowers that can be grown. Jean advised gardeners to be aware of the following:

The health of the soil. A soil test will help you understand your soil conditions and whether it needs any fertilizers or amendments.
The type of soil. Is it boggy or dry? Clay or sand?
The local climate conditions including temperature, rainfall and wind.

Planning for Color in the Garden

“When most novice gardeners think of color, they think of flowers,” commented Jean. They enthusiastically set out to create colorful flower borders and beds by choosing flowers in the colors they love.”

Jean offered these additional ways to add color to a garden:

Plan for a sequence of bloom times through the seasons. This means color all year round!
Look for flowering or even non-flowering plants that have interesting foliage.
Combine different colors and textures of foliage along with combining different colors and textures of flowers.

Choosing Plants for Spring Color

“The first big splash of color in my garden is provided by the bright yellow flowers of the shrub Forsythia” explained Jean.“Later in the season, I would not find its bold, brassy yellow so attractive; but after months of winter white, it makes my heart sing.”

Bulb plants that Jean recommends for spring color in the garden include:

Dwarf iris
Snowdrops (Galanthus).
Grape hyacinth (Muscari)
Siberian squill (Scilla sibirica)

For late spring color in your garden, choose perennials. Here are three perennials Jean recommends that are easy to grow and thrive in a variety of climates:

Moss phlox (Phlox subulata) is a groundcover that grows in rock gardens, garden beds and grassy areas. Moss phlox produces blooms of bright pink, purple and white.

Old-fashioned bleeding hearts (Lamprocapnos spectabilis, also called Dicentra spectabilis) sprouts new growth early in spring and grows quickly into a shrub. It has attractive foliage and strings of pink hearts hanging from the branches. Grow next to large, late-emerging plants to fill in the empty space when the plant goes dormant in the heat of summer.

Lungwort (Pulmonaria) creates a large mass of attractive foliage in spring, accompanied by clusters of small flowers.

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