Seven ‘hardy’ spring plants for ‘brilliant’ displays ‘year after year’

Gardening: Expert advises on growing climbing plants

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For most people, the gardening season doesn’t start until late March or early April, depending on the weather. However, there are plenty of beautiful early spring plants to get into your garden before then to give wonderful bright colour and scent. For some inspiration for what some of the top spring plants are, experts at gardening retailer Thompson and Morgan have shared their “favourites”.

They said: “If you are planting flowers for spring colour then take a look at these favourites. From early-flowering perennials to spring flowering shrubs, there are hardy plants to suit every area of the garden from March through to May. 

“Throw in some spring flowering bulbs and you will have a brilliant display that returns year after year.”

Amelanchier lamarkii

The frosty white blossom of this plant appears in mid spring alongside bronze-tinted young foliage. Amelanchier tends to be at its best in spring but “deserves a prominent spot” for its year round performance, claimed the pros.

They added: “This attractive deciduous tree has gently arching branches that create wonderful dappled shade in summer. 

“This hardworking species is an ideal specimen tree for small and medium gardens, giving plenty of interest without making a nuisance of itself.”


The gardening experts claimed that for most of the year this plant is “unremarkable”. In March and April this shrub glows with bright golden yellow flowers that smother their stems. 

They are known to be “hardy and resilient” as these tough shrubs will grow almost anywhere except for very wet, poorly drained conditions. Forsythias bloom on old wood, so pruning is best carried out immediately after flowering to ensure plenty of time to produce new shoots to carry next year’s flowers.


Brunnera perennials are a “must-have” for gardeners at Thompson and Morgan – especially for shady borders. They described them as having “heart-shaped leaves that have a “metallic sheen” that “literally sparkles”.

Although mainly grown for its foliage, this shimmering plant also bears charming sprays of sky-blue flowers that make a pretty display from April to May.

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The experts added: “Surprisingly tough, it makes excellent ground cover that’s perfect for illuminating a shaded corner. It’s a mystery why Brunnera is not more widely grown as this hardy perennial really does have it all.”

Clematis montana 

This vigorous climber is a garden classic. These plants are typically found cascading over walls and fences in a torrent of bloom each spring. Throughout May, the “prolific pink blooms smother the foliage” which is often bronze-tinted when young. 

Easily growing to 10 metres this is not a climber for small spaces. However, the pros noted that if they are trained through the canopy of a tree, gardeners “will be mesmerised”. As this plant is in Group one of clematis it only needs minimal pruning. 


These plants are the type to go unnoticed for most of the year, but from March to May it “really packs a punch”, claimed the gardeners.

The semi-evergreen foliage becomes smothered in bloom, attracting pollinating insects from miles around. The experts said: “Aubrieta is a fuss-free hardy perennial that loves nothing more than cascading from a wall crevice or carpeting rockeries. It will happily grow in sun or semi-shade, on virtually any well drained soil – even exposed or windy sites.”

Prunus (Kojo-on-mai)

This is a type of cherry tree and is an anticipated sign of spring. While cherry trees are typically thought of as large and smothered in pink or white blossoms, this type is a neatly compact shrub that only reaches just 2.5 metres. 

The expert said: “The bare stems are strangely twisted making fascinating shapes in winter. By spring the branches are crowded with pink tinged cherry flowers that flutter like confetti on the breeze.

“The foliage that follows is equally showy in autumn, turning crimson and scarlet. This hard working shrub has something for every season in your garden.”

Magnolia stellata 

These plants are elegant and are some of the most reliable, being “less prone to frost damage”. The spidery white flowers open from velvety buds, covering the naked stems from March, and gently wafting their perfume on the cool spring air. 

The pros noted: “Unlike some species, magnolia stellate is quite compact with a slow growth rate, making it suitable for growing in modestly sized gardens or even in containers. 

“Newly planted Magnolias often spend their first two years establishing at the expense of the flowers, but they’re well worth the wait, and a well grown magnolia is a sight to behold.”

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