Lots of beautiful blooms this week!  The earliest spring bloomers like the serviceberry and spring ephemerals (hepatica, bloodroot, dutchmen’s breeches) are done (we have been so busy I didn’t have time to post photos of those – but I will try to go back and fill it in later if I have a chance!) – but the later spring blooms are in full swing. Here are a few pictures from around the nursery this week.

Blooms in the shade/part shade:

The woodland phlox is great spring color for the shade.  This is ‘London Grove’ in the picture above. It is a deeper blue than the straight species – and is very lovely.  The straight species is more of a pale blue – we have it planted in our woodland display garden at the nursery (picture to left). We also grow ‘Parksville Beach’ at the nursery – which is more of a pink/magenta (pictured below to left).


While not considered a spring ephemeral, if your shady area is drier, the woodland phlox might go dormant later in the season, kind of acting like one.  So you just want to make sure to have some other plants in the garden that will fill in if this happens.  Ferns, solomons seal, wild ginger, foamflower, and jacobs ladder are all good choices to name a few.



The jacob’s ladder is just finishing up blooming. The light blue to purple flowers arise in loose clusters on stalks separate form the leaves. This very delicate woodland flower provides beautiful color for shady gardens. Also called Greek valerian. Plant jacobs ladder and wild geranium together.  As the jacobs ladder is finishing up – the wild geranium will be starting to bloom – providing you with great spring color in the shade garden.

The wild geraniums are just starting to flower.  This is a great choice for partial sun/shade areas – as it is pretty adaptable in either direction. Also called cranesbill (if you don’t know already you will understand where it gets this other common name when you see the seed pod after it is done flowering), there are many non native varieties of geranium at most garden centers – but I think our native one is quite lovely. 

Foamflower is another great adaptable plant for part sun to part shade areas – being adaptable in either direction as well.  It makes a beautiful groundcover, with a carpet of airy white flowers sticking up above the foliage. It is a very versatile plant for the garden, a great ‘go to’ plant if you aren’t quite sure how much sun an area gets and what to put there!

Golden ragwort doesn’t have the best sounding common name, but it really is a lovely plant! It is actually in the aster family – even though it blooms in the spring – making it our earliest blooming aster by months!

It has bright golden yellow flowers on stalks above the green round foliage.  When it is done flowering, the seed heads become little puffballs just like asters in the fall.  It also spreads like asters do, so you can deadhead the seeds if you want to try to limit its spread, or let it go to seed and be merry!  After flowering, it provides nice green groundcover in the shade garden the rest of the season.

I have mine planted in full shade under some of our sugar maples.  It is a great pop of color in the shade – which can be hard to find.  And I have white wood asters planted along with it – another great naturalizer for shady areas – and they will provide late season color in the shade. Here is a picture of my ragwort planted under the maples below.

The Ostrich ferns are so beautiful with their vase like fronds.  Plant them so you can have a supply of fiddleheads to eat in the spring, and beautiful ferns to enjoy the rest of the season! They can take a fair amount of sun as long as they have enough moisture – otherwise – give them more shade.  The spread fairly quickly when happy, sending out a few new baby plants from the mother plant each year, so have an area of them to fill in. We have a nice supply of large ones at the nursery right now that we have been growing that will provide instant impact in the garden!

Wild ginger makes a great groundcover in the shade – and while the flowers aren’t showy – I still love them! In fact – you pretty much have to get down on the ground to see them hiding beneath the leaves.  They are a dark maroon – very unusual looking.  I think I like them so much because they are so unusual.

Shooting star resembles a badminton “birdie” heading earthward. The foliage stays low and goes dormant in mid-summer. Great for a woodland or rock garden. The flowers range from pink to purple to white. 

Blooms in the sun:

The moss phlox is gorgeous right now.  The lighter pink plants in the bottom of the picture are the straight species, phlox subulata. The brighter pink flowers at the top are a cultivar called ‘Emerald Pink’ – which as you can see has brighter pink flowers.  The foliage is also more of a deep emerald green.  I like them both – in fact I think they look nice next to each other to take advantage of the color contrast.  Moss phlox is a great groundcover for sunny areas.  It is also great for rock gardens and creeping over rock walls.

The wild columbine ‘little lanterns’ is looking great right now.  It seems to bloom a bit earlier than the straight species – which works well because it is also shorter. So you can plant both in the garden – with the little lanterns in the front – and prolong the columbine bloom in the garden. The hummingbirds will thank you!

The barren strawberry makes a great groundcover in sun and also in shade. As the name sounds – it looks like strawberry – but doesn’t get any berries. It has been blooming for a few weeks now – and is petering out.  In terms of low, full sun groundcovers for the front of the garden or a rock garden, the barren strawberry blooms first, then the moss phlox, then the three-toothed cinquefoil.

The golden alexanders in the sunny display garden are looking gorgeous right now. These flat clusters of yellow flowers in late spring are a great native alternative to Bishops weed or goutweed, an invasive groundcover still commonly being planted. The dried seed heads turn purple, making for summer interest. Golden alexanders is also the larval food plant for black swallowtail butterfly.


Shrubs in bloom:

The Pinxterbloom azaleas are in flower right now.  These are such lovely shrubs. So pretty! Many folks remember these from seeing them in the woods growing up.  The hummingbirds are also big fans of the beautiful native azaleas!  We also grow swamp azaleas at the nursery – they aren’t blooming yet – but they are covered in nice big buds right now – so stay tuned to see them when they bloom.

The beach plums are just finishing up blooming right now.  They are really nice shrubs for the landscape.  In New York they are found along the coast and also on inland dunes along the Great Lakes – making them salt tolerant and great for dry, sandy soils. White flowers cover the branches in May before leaves emerge in the spring. Tart red-purple plums ripe in August make a great jam! With its rounded, densely branched habit and sculpted, twisting branches, beach plum makes a great specimen species in the landscape.

The chokeberries – both the black and the red – are just starting to bloom right now. (This is black chokeberry in this picture) They are both beautiful shrubs – and provide great berries for the birds. They have beautiful red fall foliage as well.

The chokecherries are also blooming right now.  Getting about 20 ft tall – it is a large shrub/small tree – making it a great native alternative to invasive trees such as Norway Maple and ornamental pears for the home landscape.

The highbush blueberries are covered in lots of little bell-shaped flowers right now – which will be followed by lots of yummy blueberries later this summer! I can’t wait!

Stay tuned to see what blooms next! The three-toothed cinquefoil are close, and the shrubby sundrops, tall white beardtongue and blue flag iris won’t be too long behind them. For the woodies – the mountain laurel, rhododendron, winterberry, and ninebark won’t be too far behind either.