The third week of March means that if you are suffering from spring fever, the cure is as close as your local nursery or garden center. Now is a good week to buy and plant new perennials, rock garden plants, bare root roses, raspberry plants, strawberries, fruit trees and early flowering shrubs such as forsythia, rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.
If you have an established landscape this is a good week to consider new bed mates for plants that are looking for more excitement from their plant partners. You can start switching out plants in a bed to spice up the contrasting colors, add a different texture or bring in more color or fragrance.
A good example is if you have an early flowering shrub such as a star magnolia but the bright white blooms of the tree are hidden behind a rather overgrown and overbearing juniper that is blocking your view from inside the house. There is no reason the magnolia needs to put up with such a dominate partner. Cut it down or dig it out. Now consider a compatible bed mate that will stay low and compliment the spring blooms of your magnolia. Just look at what is flowering in your neighbor’s yard to get an idea of what would bloom alongside the magnolia. Perhaps a ruffle of purple heuchera under the skirts of the magnolia tree or an edging of black mondo grass to frame and contrast the white flowers. Think of yourself as an artist that paints with plants.
Here are some more ideas of partners that make great plant marriages:
Coral bark maple and pieris japonica ‘Forest Flame’
Why it works: The bright orange bark of the maple is the same color family as the salmon and orange tones of the new growth on the evergreen Pieris. Both will tolerate shade and can be shaped with light pruning. This would make a dynamic duo for a front yard landscape that is lacking in curb appeal.
Yellow Forsythia and purple P.J.M. rhododendron
The short, squat form of the tough PJM rhododendron is a contrast in form to the leggy forsythia but both shrubs bloom in early spring when their bright color are most appreciated. Add some purple crocus and dwarf yellow daffodils to the same planting bed and you’ll be announcing spring every year without the need to replant.
Any hellebore with Black mondo grass
Hellebores may be the stars of the spring and winter garden but they do fade into the background once summer arrives. The dark foliage of black mondo grass adds some drama to the hellebore planting area and both look great with frost and winter snow. There is another reason these two make great mates. Both are deer and slug resistant and adapt to a wide variety of soils. When planting be sure to dig a large hole and loosen the soil before planting. Poor drainage and compacted soil can contribute to being shallow or rootless — the demise of any healthy relationship.
Create your own beautiful plant marriages
Just bring a piece of your favorite plant to the garden center or nursery. Note what soil and light conditions the bed provides. Now match the conditions you have with a plant that has a complimentary color, texture or form and you’ll be creating a match made in horticultural heaven.