Saturday, April 29, 2017

An April Awakening!

Pops of color in April, following the frequent gray-sky days of winter, are a welcome sight for Wisconsin residents.  While walking through my hometown in April, colorful spring blooms are prominent—trees, shrubs, some perennials, and a plethora of spring flowering bulbs!

Magnolia trees with pink-to-purple blooms are always a show stopper.  Even Norway maples (Acer platanoides) provide lime green pompon-style blooms for us to enjoy in April; large, leathery leaves will follow soon.   Shrubs like Forsythia, with vivid yellow blooms, are another welcome sign of spring.  Other flowering shrubs, like lilacs, generally do not flower in April; although lilac flower buds are forming, they will open and release their fragrance in May.

My personal favorite April-blooming perennial is Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) with its lime green textured foliage and periwinkle blue blossoms.  This plant is usually considered a shade lover, but I have had success with it in part sun (and full sun, providing the root zone is mulched with wood shavings.) 

Of course, the obvious April Awakening is an explosion of spring flowering bulbs!  Creamy white and vivid yellow daffodils bloomed throughout the month and are still performing well as we proceed into May. (Reminder: daffodils contain a natural toxin, so rabbits won’t destroy.)  Some tulips have begun blooming in April, and others will open in May.  The genus Tulipa has many varieties and colors—choose a few favorites and plant in autumn. 
(If cottontail rabbits frequent your yard, tulips are at risk.  May I suggest surrounding bulbs with wire mesh hardware cloth as soon as leaves emerge until blossoms open; then remove wire mesh and enjoy the sight!)

M. Lynn Schmid,  Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture