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Harbingers of Spring

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February 28, 2015
Early flowering plants herald the coming spring season after a dreary winter. Flowering shrubs and trees offer a big punch of color, and are popular with gardeners and homeowners. Forsythia may be one of the most beautiful and well known of flowering shrubs. The bright yellow flowers look great against a background of evergreens. Forsythia are hardy and long lived deciduous shrubs. These plants are not fussy about where they are planted, as long as the soil is well drained. And they seem to thrive on neglect. It’s a common sight to see forsythia showering old neighborhoods with their golden blossoms in the spring after many years of abandonment. Flowering quince is another indicator that the beginning of spring is near. The flower buds swell and give a preview of the coming color. When fully open, the masses of cherry red flowers are almost gaudy in a barren late winter landscape. Flowering quince stems can be cut and brought inside allowing the flowers to open. But you have to be careful as flowering quince forms an interlacing network of thorny stems. One flowering native tree that certainly gets its fair share of attention is redbud. Redbud flowers early in the spring before most the other trees start to leaf out. The flowers are gorgeous in the spring, with colors ranging from light, clear pink to purplish pink. The flowers are grouped in clusters held tightly against the stems and branches. Forsythia, flowering quince, and redbud trees announce the coming of spring. You should be seeing them soon where you live in Mississippi. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

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