Tiny crocuses peaking up from the ground, sometimes even through the snow, are usually the first sign that spring has finally arrived. Photographer Scott Andrew spotted these growing wild near Cumberland, Rhode Island.
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There are lots of reasons to plant yarrow. First, it’s a hardy perennial wildflower, so you don’t need to do much beyond plant it in full sun and feed it some compost each spring. Second, it has anti-inflammatory properties, which means you can brew it in a tea to reduce menstrual cramps or indigestion. Plus, it smells wonderful and attracts butterflies. Yarrow is a medium height, so it looks great planted up against a fence or shed, the way photographer Richard Stringfellow captured it here.
The gigantic flower heads of hydrangeas give them a glorious, stately look. Anna Marie, who blogs at FlowerGardenGirl, uses them as a dramatic backdrop along her garden path, with smaller flowers nestled underneath. The Keys To Growing Hydrangeas are that they thrive in almost any kind of soil, though they do need moisture, and prefer a little shade. Fun fact: The flowers will change colors based on the pH of your soil–lower than 5.5 will make them blue, greater pink. (White hydrangeas aren’t affected by pH.)
Related: How To Lower Soil pH
Lifestyle blogger Sue Webb is growing this tiny perennial with flowers that are formed from clusters of blue or white balls. Grape hyacinth is a small bulb and will spread over time, giving your garden a wilder look. The flowers prefer full sun and make an effortless, beautiful border for a garden walk or the front edge of a flowerbed.
Rose of Sharon is a beautiful flowering shrub that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. You can plant several in a row to form a hedge, or let it become the focal point of the yard the way gardener Alice Woodrome does here. Plant it in full sun to part shade, and watch it grow bigger every year and bloom each spring.
This fiery wildflower is native to large parts of the U.S. and is frequently spotted along roadsides in the Southwest (though photographer Sammy Santiago happened upon these near St. Augustine, Florida). Its vibrant sunset hues make it a standout in the garden or meadow during late spring and summer. Indian blanket does well in dry soil and lots of sun, and it reseeds easily, so chances are you’ll have it coming back year after year.
Sometimes called snowdrop windflower, these little white gems hug the earth, so you’ll want to plant them at the front edges of the flowerbed where they won’t be missed, the way gardener Wendy Kremer does here. They do well in full shade, so there’s no need to worry that taller plants are hogging all the sunlight. Snowdrop anemones are small bulb perennials, and they have a tendency to spread, something to consider when choosing a spot for them.
Bright, bushy azaleas make a fiery hedge in springtime, like these that photographer Karen Mallonee spotted in Baltimore. Azaleas come back year after year, typically blooming between mid-April to mid-May, and once they’re established they require very little care. Just be sure to prune them soon after they’re done blooming to avoid cutting off next year’s buds.
Related: The Best Time To Prune
Phlox is a favorite perennial groundcover among gardeners because it’s easy to care for and creates a blanket of tiny, fragrant blossoms (seen up close in this image from photographer Joel Dinda) in shades of blue, white, pink, or red. There are several varieties of phlox (including some taller ones that are good for cut flowers), but most types like moist, well-drained soil and lots of sun. It may also be susceptible to powdery mildew, so search for resistant varieties, and keep these tips for Preventing Powdery Mildew on hand.