Spring is coming now, with a warm-up this weekend and thunderstorms. It is right around the corner and I am so excited to see colors in the landscape again. While I have been helping in the greenhouses, the outside world has been gearing up for the change. Birds are mating, the weather is changing from snows to rains, and spring bulbs are starting to push through. Early spring can be a difficult time for pollinators, with few things blooming in the landscape. However, there are some plants you can add to the garden to help those early pollinators. Here are 10
1.Crocus Bulbs can be a great addition to the garden, and few things bloom earlier than crocuses. They are the quintessential spring flower. Everyone knows spring is coming when they see crocuses blooming. They are also a good flower for bees, flies, and butterflies in early spring, and those pollinators are out.
2. Bergenia This shade garden plant is also known as pig-squeak, for the sound it makes when you rub the wet leaves together. It has bright pink or white blooms and is an excellent addition to any shade garden. The leaves also turn bright red in autumn. It is semi-evergreen.
3. Ajuga Ajuga is a fast spreading groundcover for the shade garden and it blooms in March & April to boot! The small, lobelia-like, lavender flowers are attractive to bees and other pollinators.
4. Canadian Ginger This native woodland perennials is more than just a pretty groundcover, it has edible roots and red flowers in spring that attract bees and flies.
5. Virginia Bluebells This perennial ephemeral (comes up, blooms, then dies to the ground before the heat of summer) is a popular ground-covering plant for the woodland garden. It has bright, blue blossoms in March and April and is very attractive to bees.
6. Fremont’s Clematis This is one of my favorite perennials from the prairie. It is an amazing shrubby clematis, growing 1 foot tall and wide. It blooms in March, April, May, and some years in September. Each plant puts up a dozen, bell-shaped flowers that are frequented by native bees. Flowers may be purple, cream, or lavender.
7. Field Pussytoes This extremely low-growing, groundcover native will grow in full sun. It can be found across the Great Plains and Midwest, already growing in patches of prairies. It is also available for the gardener. It blooms in March and April and only grows a few inches tall. It also a host plants for the American Lady butterfly.
8. Blue Woodland Phlox This native phlox can be found growing in woodlands in early spring. It blooms with bright blue-lavender flowers in April and May. It is attractive to bees and butterflies. It can grow in part to full sun.
9. Mayapple This spring ephemeral is a common sight to morel hunters in North America. We often see morels at about the time of the mayapple blooms, in late April. This plant is also a large colonizer and will spread over a large area before dying back to the ground in summer. The fruit when ripe is also edible.
10. White Fawn Lily Also known as the white trout lily for its speckled leaves, this ephemeral is also a groundcover in the woodland garden. The flowers, which bloom in March and April, bloom only on plants with 2 leaves. It is attractive to bees and wildflower hunters alike.
Many of these plants grow naturally around the country, and many are available from mail-order nurseries. Check out Grimm’s Gardens website for available plants.