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Learn to identify, plant your favorite spring blossoms.

By Joel M.

Lerner

To truly appreciate the lushness and color of spring, take a trip north for several days.

Once you return to your more temperate climate, the transition will feel like the change in the movie "The Wizard of Oz" when the film switched from black and white to full

color.

If you haven't taken notice of the rainbow of colors, here are some of the blossoms that are around us.

Ajuga is a ground cover that is beautiful this time of year.

The deep blue spikes of flowers are showiest in shade and moist, rich soil.

The plant will mass into an excellent low ground cover.

It can run into nearby woodland if it's planted in close proximity to a park or forest.

Under these circumstances, this Asian native is considered invasive to native plants and should be pulled when seen spreading.

Azaleas abound in almost every color.

There are hybrids that will open from now into the end of June.

A couple of later-blooming varieties that extend the season are macrantha (Rhododendron kaempferi), Satsuki hybrids and deciduous varieties such as lemon drop that usually blooms in June.

Brunnera (B.

macrophylla) has been flowering for a couple of weeks; it is also called false forget-me-not.

Brunnera performs admirably in shade and will colonize an area within two to three years.

Burkwood viburnum (Viburnum X burkwoodii) is one of my favorite fragrances in the garden.

This semi-evergreen shrub seldom needs pruning but can be cut back as necessary if you have a smaller property.

Selectively prune back to a growth point and shape the shrub as you cut each branch.

It is tolerant of partial shade but will produce fewer flowers when grown in lower light.

Kwanzan cherry (Prunus serrulata "Kwanzan'') is a dependable, free-flowering tree with cherry blossoms that are blooming now, after most other cherries are done.

Flowers have a very showy pompom appearance.

When the petals first drop, it looks like a wedding.

Do not plant over a sidewalk or driveway as the petals can make quite a mess.

Crabapples are flowering and leafing now.

Their flowers are similar to cherries but bloom later.

There are hundreds of hybrids.

Most are in deeper shades of pink and red than cherries, but the smaller composition and reddish-pink flowers still can present the appearance of a cherry.

Eastern redbuds (Cercis canadensis) are looking full and healthy this year.

The flowers are fading on some, while others are at their peak.

They are very noticeable because the deep reddish-pink flowers are on leafless stems and will blossom right through the bark on the trunk of the tree.

The interesting flowering occurs best in filtered sun.

Hellebores are extremely popular, especially the oriental hybrids.

The appeal comes from the fact that they are evergreen perennials and flower in winter.

If you snipped off the browned winter-damaged foliage this year, you would have noticed a profusion of flowers.

The flowers and leathery evergreen leaves keep their showy value for 2A' months after opening.

Tulips are blooming quite handsomely this year.

They require extra nutrients and care to return dependably next year.

Many people consider tulips as annuals and plant fresh bulbs in late fall every year.

Pansies and violets are very happy this year; you may have noticed how robust the wild violets are in shady sites this spring.

Pansies are related to violets, and both prefer the cooler temperatures.

Flowering quince has a showy flower with red to deep, reddish-pink flowers.

It is gorgeous this year.

It is a free-flowering shrub that requires little maintenance.

When it grows too dense, it shades out the flowering value.

Cut back very dense shrubs that did not perform well this year by pruning the entire shrub to about 8 to 10 inches after flowering.

Dogwoods have an interesting flowering habit.

I watched the native dogwood now in bloom start to open about 10 to 14 days ago.

They tend to grow their flower parts slowly, beginning with greenish-yellow leaves that slowly grow larger and eventually turn white in time to coordinate with the azaleas.

A shade-tolerant shrub, leatherleaf mahonia (M.

bealii) has grown its bright-yellow flowering spikes that will turn into berries and look like clusters of grapes by fall.

The texture of this shrub is coarse and it will add a good sculptural element to a woodland garden.

It is also a dependable shrub to grow in a mass.

Use it in a location where you will not need to work with it or walk through it.

Moss phlox (P.

subulata) is flowering in pink, purple, blue and white.

Established plantings of moss phlox are quite eye-catching in spring.

They will fade during May, and by July you will have forgotten they were in bloom until next spring.

Plant them in full sun for most effective color.

Rosemary that has established itself for several years will flower through winter (in protected locations) and summer.

At our home, Arp hybrid is one that rooted itself.

We simply set the 4-inch pot on the top of the soil and it now measures about 3 feet high and wide.

The flowers aren't the only stimulating part of this plant's success.

Native wisteria is a woody, twining deciduous vine with fragrant flowers in lavender or white during spring.

It's pleasing in full bloom, trained on pillars, decks, stair railings or other sturdy structures.

It needs heavy supports, like pipe or lumber.

Photos for The Washington Post by Sandra Leavitt Lerner.

WPBLOO

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:May 9, 2011
Words:932
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