Spring has arrived in all of its glory

Rob Zimmer

Although we’ve had several late frosts over the past few weeks, the glory of spring continues to unfold and grace our gardens and landscapes with bursts of vibrant color. The promise of another beautiful gardening season is upon us. We relish, as gardeners, these glorious days of May.

Each morning, it seems, there is something new to enjoy in the yard and garden. Even the first dandelions, dressed in vibrant yellow, bring a smile to my face as I see them thrust forth their sunny dispositions to take advantage of the first pollinators of the season.

The violets are bursting into bloom, as well, adorning our borders and beds with their rich blues, purples, yellows and white. Smart gardeners know to take advantage of this bounty and create enjoyable delicacies, such as candied violets, violet jelly, violet syrup and violet blossom cookies and scones. Find recipes for all of these and more online.

Magnolias are just about finished blooming for the season, and now the flowering crabapples are taking center stage. In colorful, feathery plumes of red, magenta, pink and white, the flowering crabapples put on a spectacular show during May. These are not only beautiful ornamental trees to have in the landscape, but important for songbirds later in the season and throughout the winter season. Robins, cedar waxwings, catbirds, bluebirds and others take advantage of their bountiful berries throughout fall and winter.

Some of the most spectacular blooms of this glorious May are the heirloom tulips, daffodils and other bulbs that adorn our garden beds. Classics, such as giant snow drops, double flowering tulips, colorful daffodils, hyacinths, fritillaria and other heirloom bulbs provide early-season color, texture and beauty when not much else is in bloom.

Heirloom daffodils are some of my favorites, and there are many to choose from. The glistening, snowy white Thalia daffodil is a classic, dainty favorite. Others include the double flowering, multiple blooming Cheerfulness and Yellow Cheerfulness, as well as the unique pincushion bloom of Rip van Winkle. Many gardeners still haven’t learned that daffodils come in many other colors than yellow. Some of the most beautiful varieties bloom in shades of pink.

The crown imperials are members of the fritillaria family and feature massive “crowns” of colorful blooms in yellow and orange. These may reach 3-4 feet tall, looking like palm trees or pineapples in the spring garden. They have a distinct, skunk-like odor — perfect for keeping deer and rabbits out of the garden beds.

Native wildflowers also put on quite a show in the spring garden. Virginia bluebells dance in the spring winds, their long, tubular blue, bell-like blooms attracting the first hummingbirds of the year, as well as bumblebees and other pollinators. Trilliums bloom in showy white, while jack-in-the-pulpits bloom in exotic maroon, striped silvery green.

As the glory of May continues, we will see more and more garden flowers burst into bloom. Bearded iris, lilacs, columbine, oriental poppies, allium and late tulips will all grace our garden beds and set the stage for the coming growing season.

Find Rob Zimmer on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RobZimmerOutdoors.