Trout Lily "White Beauty"
It thrives in the woods because it prefers the canopy of trees that provide part-shade as only dappled sunlight shines through. (They hate heat.) Their next love is rich, loamy and moist soil embedded in leaf mold, so the woods and the trout lily make a perfect match.
Even the waxy leaves are striking with green and reddish brown spots that are 6 inches long and 2 inches across. You'll see two on flowering plants but only one on non-flowering plants.
The single white flower that emerges from this greenery likely has a pink, lavender or blue tinge as shown in the above photo. That single flower will rise up to be between 2 and 7 inches high and grows best in zones 3-9.
Savor while you can this spring as the plants die back come summer. They only bloom for about two weeks. Clingy like sheep, they tend to grow in dense groupings but only a few will flower any given year, just about 1%! Left alone over the long haul, the trout lily will end up producing a large colony of plants over a few decades.
What I like most about the trout lily is that it does bloom a little earlier than most other spring wildflowers in the woodlands. So if you happen to have a yard loaded in trees, the trout lily plant might make some great spring groundcover in the coming years!
Better still, these globe-shaped bulbs are easy to grow in rich, sandy to gritty and well-drained soil. Full-sun with medium moisture is also best. They will love your raised bed! Because they are a bulb, you can dig up some of your established plants and divide and replant in late summer to create even more flower power. While they can self-seed, they never become invasive. Great to share with friends!
Just like any bulb, they tend to rot in overly moist soils. But they have no serious insect or disease hang-ups. They grow wonderfully in containers, attract butterflies, are fragrant and tolerate deer. Easy on the eye, they give any floral arrangement a unique and fun appearance come spring. Many have a slight purple tinge and that's pretty too!
The allium family includes onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions and chives and all these vegetables are nutrient powerhouses. Alliums contain organosulfur compounds, phytonutrients that may help protect us against microbial infections, cardiovascular disease and chronic inflammation. Just one more reason onions make me cry with happiness!
Like alliums, they are a bulb but with a cup-like appearance growing to be a tiny 6 inches in zones 3-9. So sweet when they make their comeback with minimal care every March/April. And they spread! The more you have, the more splash they make in those vibrant clusters. Big bonus? Deer, squirrels, and rabbits tend to leave your early, little bulbs alone.
But there's a small catch. You have to plant them before the ground freezes in the fall, I'm thinking between September to November depending on your zone. They do not like soggy ground, so plant bulbs in clusters and only in well-drained soil.
Solo plants tend to look sad and lonely. You want to form a "plant carpet" if possible, bunches of crocus to give off a more powerful plant punch. Like garlic, plant 3-4 inches deep with the pointy end up. Water well just after you plant. Organic matter is a huge plus so give them a little compost, peat, or molded leaves for a little added love.
Since crocus are some of the first plants to pop up come spring, you might want to pop a plastic milk jug over them if you are hit with late snow storms like we are. Don't mow over them until their leaves have browned over and the whole plant has died down. It allows the strength to go back into the plant for next year! (Kind of like your daffodils.)
You have to love how it has few insect or disease issues while being both deer and drought resistant. Expect blooms in May and June, but if you're climate is a bit cooler, you might even get blooms right into fall.
Fragrant, it attracts butterflies and is tolerate of dry or infertile soil. Since centhranthus self-seeds, it can become somewhat invasive and weedy when spread by wind and birds all over your yard. So deadheading helps keep seeds from forming, ultimately increasing the amount of blooms you get as well.
You might have heard of the popular red valerian (Jupiter's beard) variety, "albus" is just the white spinoff. Mix them together for an explosion of spring!
White Crested Iris
Iris attract hummingbirds and bees but the pesky (although cute) deer don't like them. My tulips? The deer just munch munch munch. Iris hold their blooms a long time and spread quite nicely. After a few years, you'll have plenty to share with friends when you split up the bunches. With a sharp spade, they divide easily. Then use your fingers to pull apart and sort the thick and tangled rhizomes.
Expect your first blooms around mid-April through May. Great picking flowers too for your homemade flower bundles. When plucked, obviously the blooms don't last quite as long as when left on the plant, but you get to enjoy them inside. Nice in a vase next to your bed stand!
Iris strive to be about a foot tall and grow best in zones 3-9. Well-drained soil in full to partial shade is best. I grow mine in my backyard perennial bed where they get afternoon sun only. When it gets hot, I sprinkle them with water. Especially if it hasn't rained here in a while or if they have just been transplanted. This bed also gets tons of compost and organic matter to satisfy their needs.
Iris comes in tons of colors, so you have lots of options, but the white with yellow (and purple) centers are particularly striking...agree?!
Sweet woodruff is easy to grow as a filler or groundcover. This delicate looking plant grows to be about 8 inches tall in zones 4-8. It's spread by runners making it invasive. In moist soil in particular, sweet woodruff will get huge rather quickly. But I find, that it's the shady areas of my lawn that I'm looking to fill anyhow so I don't mind the spread.
Sweet woodruff loves well-drained soil loaded in organic materials like decomposing leaves and branches. Perfect in my backyard where lots of that is going on. You might want to use your trusty spade to keep the sweet woodruff under control by severing the runners which prevents the plant from spreading too far and wide. Do this once a year or so, no more.
Sweet woodruff doesn't require much water or fertilizer making it a breeze to grow. In fact, you really only need to water in severe drought. Propagate simply through division. It also grows pretty good by seed, your choice!
I always think of forsythia as being a yellow flower when it bursts into the spring scene. But the white version is equally compelling. Your thoughts? Many neighbors grow forsythia on my street and it always surprises me when I see them get pruned down to nothing. The pruning always occurs right before the forsythia are about to bloom. I don't get it.
When you grow a forsythia bush/shrub, you do so for one reason. Display. Gorgeous display of nicely scented flowers that help usher in spring. We're so beyond pithy plants here and into big, bold bushes! Mix in with your shrub border, use as a informal and attractive hedge or incorporate right into your landscape with those evergreen bushes. Makes a pretty privacy fence too!
Forsythia will get to be about 3 to 5 feet tall and wide...filling in that gap in your perimeter landscape. The flowers are both charming and sweet. You'll shed a tear when the blooms go bust. Plus, this low-maintenance bush is deer resistant and makes for great cut flowers in a vase.
When you first plant, regular watering is essential. If it gets super hot where you live then add more water until it's established. Partial to full-sun suit the forsythia. I have this gap in my side yard that has been asking for a forsythia bush for several years now. I'm on it.
Another cool fact is that you can start candytuft from seeds or cuttings. Seeds germinate in about two weeks after you've planted them. Cuttings take a bit longer so try to be patient. They are slow to take root but if you keep them evenly watered, eventually, you'll see them take root. The plant can also be divided, but try it in the fall for best success.
Candytuft grows to be about 8 inches in height and in zones 3-9. So lots of flexibility. It's not too fussy about soil but it does want that soil to be well-drained. Find a spot where it won't be sitting in water. Full-sun is best, but some shade is okay.
Bare spots in your garden? No problem. Candytuft might just be perfect for you. It's a great groundcover and we love great groundcovers here at Raise Your Garden.
But they are a tad bit fussy. Pieris japonica like organically rich, slightly acidic, medium moisture and well-drained soil, not to mention full-sun to part-shade conditions. See what I mean? Oh, but those dainty and fragrant flowers are worth it!
If you live in a harsher environment, take some winter precautions. Meaning...pieris japonica should be planted in a sheltered area in the first place so that wind and snow don't bog it down when the temperatures dip. Overall, pieris japonica is considered both deer and frost resistant.
Pieris japonica will like your raised beds, container gardens, and borders. It will excel in a formal garden or create just the right focal point in your perennial bed. Throw it in a flower arrangement as well for a great cut flower!
Around here, we call it a shrub/tree. Dogwood has those low branches with a flat-topped crown and is wider than high when fully grown. Unlike some of the other options in this post, flowering dogwood does best in partial shade and can do fine in full-sun. The opposite of many plants featured in this post.
Try growing from seed when all danger of frost has past...just not too deep. Seeds should be clean and dry. Get some from your neighbor! It's found in almost all parts of the eastern U.S. starting from the Atlantic coast and as far west as the Mississippi River.
We love both the white and pink flowering dogwood. You'll notice even the oval 3-6 inch bronze-green leaves are pretty to stare at which will turn dark green by the end of summer. In fall, the leaves turn red to a reddish purple. So no matter the season, dogwood is eye candy.