When it comes to hardy spring blooming bulbs, daffodils are among those that I find reliable and nearly full proof. My feeling is you can never have too many! Not only are they resistant to pest and disease problems, once planted these perennial bulbs offer years of blooms and demand little in return. The Southern Living Collection includes Narcissus xodorus ‘Campernelle’ with fragrant golden yellow trumpets that appear in February to early March. I combine my daffodils with hellebores. The hellebores help to camouflage the awkward stage daffodils go through after they finish blooming and the foliage ripens, turning yellow and then brown.

Another spring flowering bulb I grow is the heirloom called snowflake, Leucojum aestivum. This adaptable bulb will grow in a good bit of shade and will even tolerate damp soil. Masses of white bells marked with green dots hang from clumps of rich green foliage. A robust grower it reaches 10-12inches tall and blooms for weeks, beginning in early spring. I use it in my woodland garden with ferns, hellebores and other spring blooming bulbs.

For bright color later in spring, I grow the hardy red amaryllis, Hippeastrum x johnsonii. In April and May beautiful red trumpets marked with white bloom atop sturdy stems 6 -8 inches high. The glossy green strap-like foliage is also attractive. In my garden I have planted this amaryllis in the same area with a purple leaf selection of the common smoke tree, Cotinus coggygria. I also have other reds and orange colored perennials including daylilies, yarrow and verbenas.

Once the weather is warm enough I am thinking of adding the tropical Mandevilla ‘Sophia.’ With its glossy foliage and luminous red flowers it will fit right in with my other hot colored plants.

Two plants that I grow in containers please me for different reasons. Fragrant plants evoke memories and are bound to elicit comments even from nongardeners.

This is the case with Gardenia ‘Jubilation,’ perfect for a pot or a low hedge. I have mine near the front door so I can appreciate its perfume whether I’m coming home or headed out. With its shiny evergreen leaves it looks good even (during the rare periods) when it’s not blooming.

Another shrub that I grow in a decorative pot is the dwarf selection of pomegranate calledPunica granatum ‘Orange Blossom Special.’ Growing 2 to 3’ high and wide, it is a perfect choice for a container garden and a great way to bring the color orange into your landscape. During the growing season it seems as if it’s always in bloom. This past fall I added orange violas around the base of this pomegranate to create a color echo.

Helioptropium amplexicaule ‘Azure Skies’ is a native perennial that is perfect for hot sunny locations. Plant it as a groundcover, combine it with other heat loving perennials or let it trail over the edge of containers. Since it only grows 12 to 14” tall, it works well as a foil for taller plants.

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