Dutch hyacinth is a fragrance powerhouse. Its stocky blooms open in midspring, around the time that daffodils are hitting their stride. The blooms release a rich, full fragrance that can fill the spring garden. Indoors, pots of forced hyacinths bring spring scents to life in the heart of winter. Plant bulbs in fall for a spring show in the garden. Choose flower colors in many shades, including purple, blue, pink, salmon, white and red. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Native penstemon is a go-to perennial for hot and dry spots in full sun, which makes it an ideal choice for meadow plantings. ‘Midnight Masquerade’ penstemon offers deep burgundy-purple leaves that sound a strong color note all season long. In early to midsummer, lavender flower spikes top the dark hued leaves. Penstemon is a hummingbird and bee favorite. Hardy in Zones 3-8. Mulch lightly in winter after the ground freezes to help plants survive.
Look for new Skyfall mums to create the perfect porch-size garden mum orb. Traditional garden mums don’t always make the prettiest hanging baskets because their stems don’t naturally trail and can be brittle, breaking easily. Not so with Skyfall mums. These trailing mums adapt beautifully to hanging baskets, cascading naturally. The petite daisy blooms beckon butterflies to the frost-tolerant plants. Look for flower colors of yellow, white, pink, purple and red. Plants are garden hardy in Zones 6A to 11. Plant at least six weeks before frost to help ensure winter survival.
A classic bloomer for early summer bouquets, bearded iris offers a rainbow of flower hues, from purple-black, to sunny yellow, to old-fashioned lavender. Bearded iris are undemanding in the garden. Tuck them into a spot with full sun to part shade, and call it done. Look for dwarf, knee-high or tall varieties. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 38 inches tall by 12 to 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-10. Good vase companions for bearded iris: baptisia, peony, lady’s mantle, gas plant and lavender.
Also known as coralbells, heucheras bring season-long color to the garden and vase with their tinted leaves. Look for heuchera in a host of shades, including gold, purple, lime green, burgundy, almost black and silver. In the garden, heuchera is versatile, growing in full sun to full shade. Some varieties have a specific light preference, so be sure to read the plant tag prior to purchase. Use heuchera leaves to add color to arrangements, or pick the airy flower spikes. Blossoms appear from early to midsummer, depending on variety. Deer-resistant plants grow 6 to 8 inches tall by 10 to 12 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Good vase companions for heuchera: gas plant, Oriental lily, hosta leaves, zinnia and anise hyssop.
Japanese beetles love the soft tissue of flower petals, whether it’s butterfly bush, roses or purple coneflower. These eating machines can destroy beautiful blooms, turning pretty petals into raggedy, rotting messes. To get a handle on Japanese beetles, knock individual bugs into soapy water. They lay eggs in moist lawns, so cut back watering from late June to late July, when beetles are mating (check with your local extension office for precise timing for your area). Don’t hang Japanese beetle traps—they’ll only lure more beetles to your yard than you already have. Use caution with systemic pesticides, which you water into soil for roots to absorb and move through an entire plant. If the active ingredient is imidacloprid, this chemical has been implicated in bee colony collapse disorder.
It’s tough to beat the floral perfume of lilacs. These flowering shrubs open blooms from late spring to early summer, depending on variety. The blossoms offer traditional colors, like purple, lavender and white. You can also find lilacs with pink, yellow and even bicolor blooms. A few lilacs actually lack fragrance, so it’s important to do your homework before buying a plant. Some of the most fragrant varieties include light blue ‘President Grevy (Zones 3-7, shown), wine-red ‘Congo’ (Zones 4-7), pink ‘Maiden’s Blush’ (Zones 2-7) and white ‘Beauty of Moscow’ (Zones 3-7). Plants grow from shrub to small tree size, reaching from 3 to 15 feet tall. Hardiness depends on variety, from Zones 2-9.
It’s tough to beat the floral perfume of lilacs. These flowering shrubs open blooms from late spring to early summer, depending on variety. The blossoms offer traditional colors, like purple, lavender and white, and you can also find lilacs with pink, yellow and even bicolor blooms. A few lilacs actually lack fragrance, so it’s important to do your homework before buying a plant. Some of the most fragrant varieties include wine-red ‘Congo’ (Zones 4-7), pink ‘Maiden’s Blush’ (Zones 2-7), light blue ‘President Grevy' (Zones 3-7) and white ‘Beauty of Moscow’ (Zones 3-7). Plants grow from shrub to small tree size, reaching from 3 to 15 feet tall. Hardiness depends on variety, from Zones 2-9.