The cold winter we’ve just experienced seemed like an eternity and you can’t see anymore all that snow on your property that has yet to melt ? You need to see flowers right now ? You can always jog to the nearest flower shop to buy a tulip bouquet. However, it is possible to add some colour to your garden or terrace right now, although there are still mounds of snow in your yard. Don’t wait until the risk of frost has passed to create your first outdoor flower arrangements in containers. Many spring flowers – perfectly suited to be grown in pots – are particularly robust and can withstand cold temperatures. They will continue to bloom even if there is an hailstorm !

As soon as winter end, bulbous plants such as crocus (Crocus) and snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) brighten our gardens. However, if you want to grow these bulbs in pots, you should plant them in fall. Without a period of dormancy at cold temperatures, most spring flowering bulbs simply don’t bloom. If you haven’t put bulbs in containers last fall, you can simply get potted hyacinths (Hyacinthus), daffodils (Narcissus) and tulips (Tulipa), sold in garden centers or superstores, and transplant them in a planter mixed with other spring flowers. Once their bloom has past, simply transplant these bulbs in the ground and replace them by annuals.

A beautiful arrangement made of pansy Delta ® ‘Premium Persian Medley' (Viola x wittrockiana Delta ® ‘Premium Persian Medley’) and violet Penny ™ ‘Primrose Bicolor’ (Viola cornuta Penny ™ ‘Primrose Bicolor’), two annuals able to withstand temperatures below the freezing point. It also contains Beet ‘Bull’s Blood’ (Beta vulgaris ‘Bull’s Blood’), a vegetable with pretty purple foliage particularly resistant to cold temperatures.

On the other hand, it is not necessary to wait until the end of May or early June to plant annuals in pots and window boxes. Various cultivars of snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus), alyssums (Lobularia maritima), pelargoniums (Pelargonium) – mistakenly called geraniums – and pansies (Viola x wittrokiana ) bloom in early spring and are not afraid of harsh temperatures. Some pansies cultivars are resistant to temperatures down to -15 °C ! Although they are sold in some garden centers in spring, you can easily propagate these plants at home from seed.

Some spring blooming shrubs and perennials can be planted outside, in containers, in early April or sometimes right at the end of March. The hellebores (Helleborus), primulas (Primula), lungworts (Pulmonaria) and foam flowers (Tiarella) are among the first perennials to bloom in spring. For their part, the spring heathers (Erica carnea) are the first shrubs to flower, sometimes as early as the end of March in southeastern Canada. In addition to show pink or white flowers, some heather varieties such as ‘Ann Sparkes’ and ‘Golden Starlet’ have yellow or orange foliage.

This arrangement consisting of heathers (Erica carnea) and English ivy (Hedera helix) can be installed on a patio as soon as winter is over.

Other early flowering shrubs such as forsythia ‘Northern Gold’ (Forsythia ‘Northern Gold’), witch hazel ‘Arnold Promise’ (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’) and the April series rhododendrons (Rhododendron April Series) can also be integrated very early in the season to outdoor container arrangements. Once their flowers has faded, you just have to transplant these shrubs and perennials in a border and replace them with other annuals or perennials that blooms during summer.

Let spring bloom in your garden right now !