The early spring garden: Successes and failures

In this early spring garden in Virginia, it's time to assess the plants that have been successes and those that failed.

Courtesy of Donna Williamson
This beautiful daffodil is called Daphne.
Courtesy of Donna Williamson
Double-flowering kerria blooms in early spring, adding a sunshiny note to the garden.
Courtesy of Donna Williamson
Appalachian Red redbud is in the foreground, with a conventional redbud in the distance.
Courtesy of Donna Williamson
This is my first scan of what's blooming in my yard during the 2010 season.
Courtesy of Donna Williamson
This deciduous magnolia shrub is 'Jane,' I think.

Each fall, I buy a new variety of daffodil – or two or three – to try. Last year, I bought three bulbs of the most beautiful daffodil yet. It’s called Daphne [see first photo above] and is exquisite.

I tried Obdam one year – it is such a heavy double-triple flower that it cannot stand up in my yard. This year, it was blasted in the heat.

It wasn't the only one. This spring has seen a wide array of blasted daffodils. Two heat waves (one day, it was 91 F.!), have destroyed the blossoms for this year on many varieties, especially doubles.

But even if you're an experienced gardener, you don’t get to control everything, and this is how nature goes. Hail could be next.

Among daffodils that have done well for me, Lemon Glow is a beauty – pale yellow and typical daffodil shape. On this scan [first photo at left], the pale, translucent areas appear gray – they are white in real life.

Firetail is the beautiful poeticus on the scan. And as some of you saw with my earlier scans, Professor Einstein with that fantastic orange center, was a favorite last year. [Click here to read the earlier post about scanning: "My favorite garden tool: A scanner."]

Also on the scan is the flower of hesperis – Dame’s Rocket, fothergilla’s fragrant white bottle brush blossom, and the inevitable bleeding heart. Also included is a lovely shrub magnolia flower – inside and out. I think its name is Jane. [See second photo at left.]

What an unusual spring. Quince is blooming with dogwood and redbud. Quince is usually so early and completely finished by the time dogwoods emerge.

The kerria is starting to bloom. The double-flowered variegated form is just starting [see Photo No. 2 above], while the odd kerria with cream-colored flowers has been going for more than a week.

Getting all the late summer bloomers cut back has kept me busy this spring. Butterfly bushes, blue-mist shrub (caryopteris), lavender, sage, santolina, bush clover (lespedeza), and beautyberry (callicarpa) benefit from heavy pruning now.

Looks like I lost my Pauline Lilly redbud this winter. It has the palest shell-pink flowers, really lovely … or was. Appalachian Red [see Photo No. 3 above] is blooming madly – a beautiful reddish purple, quite distinct from normal redbuds. More than equal to Pauline, since it is alive!

But now I know that those quiet days of early spring are over. The mad rush is on.

Donna Williamson is one of nine garden writers who blog weekly at Diggin' It. She's a master gardener, garden designer, and garden coach. She has taught gardening and design classes at the State Arboretum of Virginia, Oatlands in Leesburg, and Shenandoah University. She’s also the founder and editor of Grandiflora Mid-Atlantic Gardening magazine, and the author of “The Virginia Gardener’s Companion: An Insider’s Guide to Low Maintenance Gardening in Virginia.” She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.


To read more by Donna, click here. The Monitor’s main gardening page offers articles on many gardening topics. Access all our blog posts here (keep scrolling down to read more), If you don't want to miss any of our gardening coverage, consider subscribing to the RSS feed of the gardening page and the RSS feed of Diggin' It. Do visit Gardening With the Monitor on Flickr. Take part in the discussions and get answers to your gardening questions. If you join the group (it’s free), you can upload your garden photos and enter our current contest.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.