Spring Flowers

The earliest flowers in my cold Calgary garden are always alpines and woodland plants. The same is true in my mild west coast garden.  But while the order of bloom is the same in different regions, the exact bloom time and quality of bloom changes with soil and location.

Double Bloodroot is a hybrid of a native plant with an extra feature: more petals. Blooms appear before leaves and in both spring and summer it is a spectacular plant.

The above photo of Double Bloodroot was taken on May 15  a few years ago in Calgary, Alberta while the same plant is in bloom on the coast right now (from mid-April.) The blooms are almost peony-sized in Calgary’s clay soil but only 2 cm across (about an inch) in my sandy coastal soils. Other plants in bloom with the Double bloodroot include bulbs like Muscari (grape hyacinth), squill, and glory of the snow in any climate. On the west coast, trilliums and fawn lilies also bloom with bloodroot.

My double bloodroot, initially moved from Calgary, is going back home. The poor soils in the west coast don’t hold nutrients and the plants on the coast look like poor cousins when compared. Warning: do not think the single blooming bloodroot is as exciting. With only a few petals, it doesn’t make much of a show in spring.

Later in April I expect Adonis vernalis , common name Pheasant’s Eye (yellow flowers and fine textured leaves), Gentian acaulis (stemless gentian) with brilliant blue flowers, and Fernleaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia) with either single or double flowers in full sun, dry gardens. 


Adonis is as pretty as it’s name implies. An early spring flower hardy in Calgary (Since 1912) and on other cold or warm climates across Northern gardens.


Gentian acaulis is a great groundcover with true blue flowers and it is hardy in both dry prairie and moist west coast climates.

A friend asked me to find her a piece of Fernleaf peony last summer because it is so expensive to buy commercially and often costs $150.00 per plant. My daughter provided me with a few scrawny stems and hardly any root that seemed to immediately dry up and die. I split the stems into their own little pots but they wilted almost right away and I thought they were dead. Well imagine my surprise when these hardy plants popped out of the  ground on the coast by mid-April, just in time to bring them back to Calgary this spring. And, no, I am not selling any of these, just experimenting with similar  plants in different climates.


Fernleaf peonies are available as both single (shown here) and double flowering plants. They are easy to propagate from cuttings and will bloom in their second year.

If you think it is complicated living in two distinctly different regions you are right… but for the present I am back and forth, enjoying spring all over the place and loving spring blooms. And not every plant is hardy in every location. On the coast I have Trilliums in full bloom right now and Erythroniums (Fawn lily) just peaking but I haven’t grown either of these in colder climates. Maybe it is time to pot them up and see how they do with more winter now that I know how excellent they are in mild climates. Let me know your favourite spring blooming plants so we can celebrate spring together.

PS This is a completely different topic but if you want to learn to grow lemons check out our fast approaching lemon camp: HERE

My dog Corle lounges in my Cocktail Corner on the west coast. In this little garden we had over 100 lemons outdoors this spring  (covered over winter) on a single 7-year old plant. In our little unheated BC Greenhouse just behind Corle’s chair we have a 4-year old lemon tree that still has over 30 lemons both green and yellow and at least another fifty blooms so far this spring. What a delicious smell!

These are a few of the first Meyer lemons picked from our trees this spring. We only pick what we need when we need it because these lemons will last months on the tree but will start to shrivel once picked and brought indoors.