Spring Blooming Perennials for Sunny Gardens

By Kerry Ann Mendez

Spring blooming perennials provide a jolt of joy, especially those with brilliant blooms. Let's take a look at some jazzy perennials that enjoy sun to part sun:

Peonies

Peonies are a popular choice and maybe you have your own favorite varieties, but how about we take a peek at some less familiar spring stars?

Even though Peonies are commonly used, Fern Leaf Peony ('Rubra Flora Plena') is unique! It has brilliant double red blooms atop feathery, fern-like foliage. It blooms earlier than other Peony and only gets around 15" tall. Even after bloom, its dramatic leaves make a lovely focal point.

ITOHs are also equally fabulous. Not only do ITOH Peonies boast large fragrant blooms in a range of breathtaking colors, the stems are very sturdy, eliminating the need for staking.

False Indigo

False Indigo (Baptisia) in the Decadence series are also underused. Many of these natives can get quite large over time, but not those in the Decadence series, which max out around 3 feet or less. 'Cherries Jubilee' is a dazzler with bicolor maroon and yellow, lupine-like flowers. Others in the compact series include 'Vanilla Cream' and 'Blueberry Sundae'. The black seedpods are also interesting, whether left on the plant or used in floral arrangements. All Baptisia are extremely drought tolerant and are attractive to bees and butterflies.

Avens

Avens (Geum) have airy "see through" flowers that dance above strawberry-like foliage. Butterflies love these flowers and the blooms come in many colors that can be single or double petaled.

I could go on about other remarkable early bloomers, but space has run out in this column. You will just have to stop by Estabrook's in Yarmouth or Kennebunk to check them out for yourself!

About the Author

KERRY ANN MENDEZ is an award-winning garden educator, author and design consultant based in southern Maine. Her latest book is The Budget-Wise Gardener. Check out her Garden Webinar series for more tips and tricks.

Kerry Ann Mendez