Spring Plantings for Your Landscape

by Jane VanOsdol on March 24, 2011

The early days of spring are the perfect time to plan out your garden plantings for the year. As you’re waiting for the weather to warm up and your frost-free date to arrive so you can begin planting, use that time to sit down with your garden catalogs and decide what new plants and trusted old favorites are going to make your list this year.

If you have a sunny yard, lucky you. You’ll have loads of flowers you can choose from to add color and excitement to your space. But what if your yard is predominately shaded? Here are three shade-loving varieties for zones 2-9 that will add not only greenery, but also colorful flowers to your landscape design.


Barrenwort, also known as bishop’s cap and fairy wings, is right at home in dry, shady areas under shallow-rooted trees. It can also handle partial sun, so it’s an adaptable plant. Barrenwort is a perennial and grows 6-18 inches tall and will spread out to make a nice groundcover. You can also use it in containers and in beds and borders. Besides the beautiful foliage, barrenwort also produces delicate flowers. Three of the most popular varieties are Red barrenwort, ‘Rose Queen’ longspur barrenwort, and ‘Sulphureum’ bicolor barrenwort.


Lungwort, or Pulmonaria, thrives in shady to lightly shaded areas. The dark green foliage on this perennial is often spotted with silver, so it brings light and cheer to darker areas in zones 2-8. Lungwort grows from 9 to 24 inches high and will spread up to 2 feet. It needs a good soil with a high concentration of organic matter and sufficient moisture to do well. Lungwort will be one of the first flowers you see peeking up through the earth in the spring. It produces delightful bell-shaped flowers in pink, blue, purple and white. A few favorite varieties are Pulmonaria ‘Baby Blue,’  Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Ice’ Long, and Pulmonaria ‘Siver Shimmers.’


Foamflower produces ruffled, white, pink, or purple blooms in the spring that thrive in a woodsy area or under a tree. This is a shorter plant, with the foliage growing to 6 inches tall. However, it spreads up to 3 feet wide with an underground runner system. The flowers themselves will grow to 18 inches tall. Foamflower does not like hot, dry climates, and it needs plenty of moisture. Some favorite varieties include ‘Major,’ ‘Marmorata,’ and ‘Purpurea.’

These three winners will help you brighten up a shady yard. For more home improvement ideas and varieties of plants that will thrive in your particular climate, contact your local landscaping services to help you design a yard that will bring you color, beauty and interest through all four seasons.

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