Pink Plants for Early Spring

It may be the fact that I am female, but I love pink. I find it a soothing color and a color that goes well with many others. Pink & grey, pink & brown, pink & purple, pink & pale blue, pink & pale yellow, pink & white, and pink & green are all combinations that work well. You can also combine different shades of pink for a beautiful monochromatic garden. In my woodland garden, I have a number of early spring plants that are all different pink tones and together create a beautiful effect.

First, I have planted two Ribes Sanguineum  (Red Flowering Current) King Edward VII which have dark pink blossoms that are irresistible to hummingbirds. As soon as the blooms open, the hummingbirds appear and they are never far from the plants. This plant is extremely easy to propagate and prune. Just cut off unwanted branches or reshape after the flowers fade. To propagate, just cut off stems (leaving a diagonal cut on the branch) in early summer or fall when it is raining and insert into moist soil in a fairly sunny location. It should grow roots quickly and have some blossoms for the next spring. After that, it will grow quickly to about 2 m high and wide in just a couple of years. There are a number of well-known cultivars to choose from, including a white variety. These native shrubs make a nice low-maintenance hedge but they will look tatty for the late summer through to the following spring so do not plant them as a specimen plant. This is my shrub in April.

King Edward VII blossoms

King Edward VII blossoms

Another favorite pink flowering shrub that blooms at the same time as the Ribes Sanguineum is Rhododendron “Teddy Bear”. It is a hybrid of the wonderful Rhododendron Yakushimanum. These small shrubs grow to about one meter high in 10 years (although mine are that height after only three years) and they make a nice full round ball with dark leaves that have a soft, fuzzy brown indumentum. The blossoms will begin a nice dark pink and then open to a pale pink, eventually turning white before they drop. They do not have a scent but the different shades of pink are a spectacular sight in the early spring. Here is a photo of my Teddy Bear blossoms that I took at the same time as the Ribes Sanguineum blossoms above.

Teddy Bear Rhododendron Blossoms

Teddy Bear Rhododendron Blossoms

Another pink flowered shrub that looks great with other pinks is the Camellia ‘Mathotiana Supreme’. This camellia is incredibly prolific and the buds open from mid-April to mid-May. The spent blooms fade well and drop off when they start to brown, leaving a lovely pink carpet under the shrub. It is an evergreen densely packed shrub that will grow to about 3 meters. I have three of these shrubs in different areas of my yard and have found that the one planted in complete shade, receiving no sun whatsoever, has performed the best. It has grown higher than my others but with about one-half the blossoms, although these blooms last longer and look darker in the shade. My bush in the front yard (from the photo) is in total sun with average soil and is packed with blossoms but the leaves look more anemic (although it is planted beside my concrete driveway so may be receiving some alkalinity). My last plant is in soggy clay soil in part sun and it is growing strangely like a groundcover, hugging the ground and growing horizontally! But all of them look lovely.

Mathotiana Supreme Camellia

Mathotiana Supreme Camellia

Another lovely and prolific camellia that is in bloom at the same time as the Mathotiana Supreme is the Camellia ‘Taylor’s Perfection”. This shrub can be grown in full sun and will grow to about 3 meters (although I have seen one that looked about 5 meters tall). My shrub is already 3 meters after 2 years but it has not filled out yet. My neighbours have all commented on how much they love this shrub. It is so beautiful at this cold time of the spring and it really colors up the street, including doing a nice job of hiding the fire hydrant.

Taylor's Perfection

Taylor’s Perfection

By the way, all these pink shrubs are great for snipping off blossoms to bring indoors for a flower arrangement. Camellia blossoms look particularly beautiful just floating in a glass or crystal bowl. The Ribes Sanguineum looks great as a bushy bouquet and has a nice light scent. Here is a photo of my current vase on the kitchen table.

Ribes Sanguineum (Red Flowering Current)

Ribes Sanguineum (Red Flowering Current)

Other pink plants blooming at the same time as these are pink flowering cherry trees, pink Hyacinth bulbs, and pink tulips. A word of caution is to ensure you know the pink color of the blooms before you plant. There is one rhododendron in my yard right now with hot pink blossoms that clash with almost every other color except bright yellow. Fortunately it is beside a Mahonia which now has yellow blossoms so they go well together. It would definitely clash with soft pinks.

Hot Pink Rhodo blossom

Hot Pink Rhodo blossom

Mahonia aquifolium blossom

Mahonia aquifolium blossom

Here are some other nice pinks and complementary plants for this time in early spring.

Pink Tulip with Yak Rhododendron

Pink Tulip with Yak Rhododendron

Pink Tree Peony Blossom

Pink Tree Peony Blossom

Pink Rhododendron and Bluebells

Pink Rhododendron and Bluebells

Caucasian Leopard’s Bane and pink azalea

Caucasian Leopard’s Bane and pink azalea

Pretty Pink Tree Peony

Pretty Pink Tree Peony

Rosebud Azalea

Rosebud Azalea

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