Category Archives: What’s in Bloom?

What’s in Bloom? – April 2020

Even though most of the trees are still bare and must of us awoke to snow on the ground this weekend, spring has arrived and with it are some of the most beautiful blooms of the year.

Spring Flowering Bulbs

Pink and purple hyacinth flowers
Hyacinthus orientalis
Clump of white daffodils with bright orange centers and yellow daffodils
Daffodils (Narcissus spp.)

The crocuses have all but faded, but the daffodils continue to bloom, brightening up the drab landscape with their cheery yellows and oranges.   They have recently been joined by the hyacinths.  With their overpowering fragrance, these flowers add to springs color palette with their cool colors of pink and purple.

Grape Hyacinth - cones of tightly packed purple flowers

You may have noticed some small purple flowers known as grape hyacinths.   Not a true hyacinth,  the inflorescence of this flower is a cone of small purple flowers that almost looks like a miniature clump of grapes.

White daffodiles with bright yellow center
Daffodil ‘Ice Follies‘

If you want to bring some spring cheer inside (highly recommended), it is best to give daffodils their own vase as their stems secrete a substance that is harmful to other flowers.


Spring Ephemerals

White and purple flowers growing out of a patch of soil
A mixture of the white spring ephemeral bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) and the purple spring bulb green anemone (Anemone blanda).
Clump of small flowers with five purple petals a light yellow center
Hepatica nobilis

One of the great joys of spring is the appearance of spring ephemerals.  These native plants grow in wooded areas and only have a short time to flower before the trees above them leaf out and block their sunlight.  When you are walking through wooded areas in the spring, make sure you watch your feet or might step on the delicate flowers of the bloodroot or the hepatica.

Other Spring Blooms

Clusters of cascading pink flowers
Andromeda (Pieris japonica)
Small purple and magenta flowers in a mass of green leaves with white spots
Lungwort (Pulmaria spp.)

From the showy flowers of the andromeda bush to the subtle flowers of the lungwort, the more time you spend out side the more flowers you’ll notice.

Weeds – It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Dandelion with a bright yellow flower growing in the crack between two pavers
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Many spring flowering plants are considered weeds.  You may think that dandelion in your lawn is unsightly, but the bees beg to differ.  Dandelions are an important source of pollen and nectar for bees in the early spring as are other spring flowering ‘weeds’ like purple deadnettle and henbit.

What about Fungus?

Bright orange sphere with orange tentecales attached to the needles of an evergreen tree
Cedar-Apple Rust Gall (Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae)

Now fungi aren’t plants, so they don’t have flowers, but they can add color to the landscape.  In the spring cedar-apple rust galls that overwintered on juniper become more noticeable as they produce gelatinous tendrils that release spores  into the air.  Some of these spores will find their way to apple trees where they can cause problems by infecting the leaves and the fruit of the tree.

Happy Spring!

Spring bouquet of bright yellow daffodils and forsythia, purple grape hyacunth, white andromeda, and buds of a pink cherry treeThanks to all of the Master Gardener Volunteers who provided their thoughts and photos for this post!

What’s in Bloom?

Bright red flowers on the branch of a red maple tree
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

by Susan Ndiaye, Community Horticulture Educator

Signs of spring abound!   Bird songs fill the air.  Buds on the trees are starting to unfurl.   New shoots are breaking through the soil.  And flowers are beginning to bloom!

Here are some of the flowers to look out for as you venture outside for a breath of fresh air.

When most people think of maple trees, flowers aren’t the first thing that comes to mind.  Red maples are native to the eastern United States and happen to be one of the first trees to flower in the spring.  Their bright pink to red flowers result in the production of thousands of winged fruits called samaras, colloquially referred to as helicopters.  After ripening on the trees for several weeks they will fill the air and litter the ground.

A branch of forsythia in full blloom - yellow flowers
Forsythia spp.

Although many people equate the yellow blossoms of the forsythia with the beginning of spring, the forsythia is not native to New York; it actually native to eastern Asia.  This fast growing shrub is a favorite among homeowners, because it is tolerant to deer, resistant to Japanese beetles, and rarely has disease problems.   If you are looking for a native alternative to forsythia, try spicebush (Lindera benzoin).  This medium sized multi-stemmed shrub has fragrant yellow-green flowers in early spring and supports 12 species of butterflies and  provides berries for the birds.

Snowdrop - small white flower held between someone's thumb and forefinger
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
Bunches of white ane purple crocuses
Crocus spp.

One of the many joys of spring is the emergence of all the spring flowering bulbs.   Some of them are already blooming: snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils (my favorite flower!).   Despite its sometime unsightly appearance, make sure you leave  the foliage alone until it turns yellow and dies back.  This allows the leaves of the plant to produce food through photosynthesis.  This food is stored in the bulb and will be used  to produce even more beautiful flowers next spring!

Hellebores are also flowering! This evergreen herbaceous perennial is native to Turkey, but does well here in Orange County.  It grows well in full or partial shade and has beautiful white to pink to purple flowers that bloom in late winter into  early spring.  Hellebores are rarely damaged by deer and as they are evergreen, after their flowers fade, they make an attractive ground cover

Pink Hellebores (Helleborus spp.)
Varigated pink and with flowe with stringy yellow stamens in the center
Varigated Hellebores (Helleborus spp.)
White flowers with bright yellow stamens in the center
White Hellebores (Helleborus spp.)

As you are out enjoying the sunshine, what other signs of spring do see or hear or smell?

Thanks to all of the Master Gardener Volunteers who provided their thoughts and photos for this post!