Sensational spring shrubs will beautify

Rob Zimmer

Gardeners’ dreams have turned to spring, and a popular question I’ve been receiving over the past few weeks is regarding spring blooming shrubs. For beginner gardeners or longtime garden lovers, spring blooming shrubs are an enticing and tantalizing part of the landscape. Some of these shrubs bloom so early that they provide a joyous burst of color, even when everything else appears brown and lifeless.

Here are some examples of some wonderful spring blooming shrubs to include in your yard and garden for a beautiful spring showcase of bloom.

Pussy willows are among the first spring blooming shrubs to show signs of life during spring. Already the wild varieties are bursting forth with their furry, silvery catkins. Over the next few weeks, they will be in full glory.

There are many varieties of pussy willows to choose from, as far as garden hybrids. Many of these grow in much drier conditions than the native pussy willows that generally grow in or near water. There are garden hybrids available in pink, as well, which is exciting for many growers.

Like many of the shrubs in this week’s column, pussy willows can often be found in tree, or standard form as well. There are gorgeous weeping pussy willows that drape down like an umbrella.

Another early blooming spring shrub is the forsythia. With its bright, cheerful yellow blooms, forsythias are popular in our area, as they often bloom while everything else is still brown and dormant. In some years, there may still be snow on the ground when the forsythia is in bloom. This explosive burst of color brightens up the yard and garden as early as mid April in some years.

Forsythias come in many different sizes and shapes. There are dwarf forsythias that may only grow a few feet tall. There are others that will grow to 7 or 8 feet tall and wide. There are also forsythia varieties that have beautiful bronze or purple foliage that provides a breathtaking backdrop to the golden yellow blooms.

Several magnolia varieties are hardy here in our area. Star magnolia is probably the most popular with its beautiful, ruffled, layered blossoms in light pink and white. This is also one of the easiest to grow. Magnolias bloom, like other shrubs in this column, before their leaves appear and before the surrounding landscape has begun to flush.

Rhododendrons and azaleas are another group of beautiful spring blooming shrubs. In shades of pink, white, fuchsia and magenta, the shrubs are popular for the burst of early spring color they provide. Be sure to check the individual plant tags on these shrubs as some are more hardy than others. You really want the varieties that are hardy in zone 3 and 4. These can be long blooming shrubs in the landscape and provide wonderful foliage throughout the year, as they often remain evergreen.

It wouldn’t be spring without joyous, fragrant lilacs in the yard and garden. In purple, lavender, white and even a few varieties in creamy yellow, lilacs are a popular landscaping plant. There are dwarf lilacs that may only be 3-4 feet high, while others are full grown shrubs that may reach 10 feet or higher.

Soon, it will be time to shop and plant for wonderful, colorful spring shrubs to add to your yard and garden. Scatter them throughout the landscape for a lush effect of blooms in the springs to come.

Rob Zimmer is a nature and garden author, public speaker and radio show host on WHBY. Readers can find him on Facebook at