April is here, the ground is thawing, and the days are getting longer and longer.  The air temperatures are maintaining a steading warming trend and rain has returned instead of snow.  These all trigger perennials to wake up and get active again.  Plants break dormancy at different times but in this article, we will talk about the first ones out of the gate.  The plants that are early risers, the plants that are grown and blooming before some even wake up. 

The very first perennials to start growing are mainstays of older gardens and haven’t changed much in years.  Crocus, Snowdrops, and Pansies all bloom in late winter into early spring.  These plants have been grown for years for the brilliant colors and flashy displays that are unrivaled until months later by others.  To have a continuously blooming garden I would suggest using a large quantity of crocus bulbs and other bulbs along the edges to fill in small spots and really give a powerful punch of color to start the year right. 

The first shrubs to begin showing signs of life are Witch-hazel and Forsythia.  These shrubs have a long-storied past being grown in gardens for many years and being very tough plants that preform year after year.  The plants are unique in that they usually lack leaves when they bloom giving a more pronounced bloom and a better display of their flowers before anything else.  Serviceberry and Chokeberry are two native shrubs that both have spring blooms and each are great additions that require very little maintenance. No matter what you choose, make sure to have at least one spring blooming shrub in your landscape.

The First trees to show life are maples. These classic trees will start their blooming as soon as the temperatures remain steady and warm. These are most pronounced on red maples which have vibrant red flowers on the tips of their branches. Another tree is the Magnolia. These trees bloom with one of the largest tree flowers and will bloom before their leaves come out making them very showy and great trees to use for a landscape. When selecting new plants for your landscape, think about when the plants will bloom, and try to stagger the times so that there is always something blooming and there is always interest in your garden.