One of the things that interests me - and one factor for me in plant selection - is the speed with which a perennial, shrub or tree leafs out in the Spring.
Maybe that seems silly, but by the time late February rolls around, I'm desperate for some greenery and signs of life in the garden.
Here are some sights that gladdened my heart:
|An expert told me not to count on Agastache rugosa 'Honey Bee Blue' acting as a perennial in Middle Tennessee. But the plant itself begs to differ. All three of the specimens I've planted have been returning reliably for a couple of years.
|Aronia arbutifolia (red chokeberry)
|Clematis 'Crystal Fountain'.
I think I've butched the training and pruning of this plant, but it survives and blooms despite me.
|'Sugar Tyme' crabapple.
You can see some old, dried apples still hanging on the plant, but the robins and other birds ate quite a bit of the fruit over the winter. That was nice to see.
|'Johnny Jump Up' (Viola tricolor) has been self-sowing here and there in the garden ever since I planted it back in 2012.
|Philadelphus x virginalis 'Natchez' (mock orange)
|The rosy buds on the redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) gleam even on a cloudy day.
|Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower), appearing amid leftover stems and seedheads from last year's purple coneflowers that I broke off, crushed and left to 'compost in place'.
|Pycnanthemum tenuifolium (narrow-leaf mountain mint) - I have high hopes for this guy. It looks capable of spreading and functioning as a groundcover, plus it's supposed to have flowers that are appealing to pollinators. This will be the second full year in the garden for this plant (and the two other specimens of P. tenuifolium that I planted at the same time). I'd say this clump is at least four times bigger than it was when I planted it last Spring.