Canadian gardeners love the early bloomers that signal spring is finally on the way
There is a particular delight Canadians feel when the first blossoms of the year push their way through the snow cover in our gardens. It is not just the singular beauty of the early arrivals — though they are lovely. Nor can their appeal be attributed solely to being as sure a sign as the robin redbreast that spring is about to be sprung. Canadians particularly like the spring shoots because they are just like us. After a long winter hunkered down under a blanket of snow, we too want to push through and emerge in the warm sunlight, spread our limbs, enjoy the smell of warm earth and anticipate the abundance to come. Here are some of our favourites.
1. PASQUE FLOWER (Pulsatilla patens)
Also known as the prairie crocus, this perennial gem’s vibrant purple stands out in the diminishing snow and will bloom into summer. Attracts pollinators too.
2. SPRING SNOWFLAKE (Leucojum vernum)
This popular spring fixture in Canadian gardens was first identified in 1754 by Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy. It is a good early source of pollen and nectar for bees.
3. SQUILL (Scilla siberica)
While not actually native to Siberia, squill are from Russia originally. The flowers are usually blue, but variants are white. Robust and yet delicate, they are an early delight.
4. WINTER ACONITE (Eranthis hyemalis)
Part of the buttercup family and native to central Europe, these yellow charmers appear in late winter. The name derives from the Greek er meaning “spring” and anthos or “flower”; hyemalis translates as “flowering in winter.”
5. VIRGINIA BLUEBELLS (Mertensia virginica)
Also known as Virginia cowslips, these are one of the prettiest flowers in any garden. Pinkish at first, they gradually darken to a rich light-purple blue.
6. CROCUS (Crocus)
The early bloomer everyone loves, the crocus is also one of the easiest to plant — great for involving the kids. And with any luck, they will multiply all by themselves.
7. SNOWDROP (Galanthus nivalis)
Last on the list but first in Canadians’ hearts, the appearance of this sweetheart — a close cousin to the spring snowflake above — means that winter really is ending, and spring is around the corner. Hurray!
For more, check out the CWF Native Plant Encyclopedia.