This Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ (foamflower), Tulipa ‘Foxtrot’, and Muscari ‘Blue ‘Spike’ (grape hyacinth) combination is the showiest in my garden right now at the beginning of June. I’m really enjoying the multitude of blooms with appealing flower colours and shapes in the shaded area under a pine tree.
The perennial Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ is a great spring bloomer in the shade garden. The frothy spikes have pink buds that open to white flowers, giving an overall light pink appearance to them. You can see how the top of each spike still has tight pink buds that have yet to open, while the bottom has the soft, fuzzy, white stars. I added this group of Tiarella last summer mainly for the nice looking foliage, and knew that it would have pretty white flowers in spring, but I didn’t forsee them flowering so beautifully with the tulips that they are snuggled up with. Happily, ‘Spring Symphony’ makes a fabulous flower combination with the bulbs this spring, fitting right in with the pink and white colours of the tulips.
Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ flowers start as dark pink buds. They then form frothy light flower spikes, living up to their foamflower name. In this picture you can see how the pink and white of Spring Symphony colour coordinate so well with the pink and white of Foxtrot, while having a contrasting flower shape. Both of them are beautifully set off by the purplish blue of the Muscari.
You can see the trunk of the pine tree that this garden bed is located underneath at the back of the picture above. It is less dense than my pine in front, so there are periods of dappled light and some direct light, even though the bed is also on the north side of a fence. There are small amounts of pine needles and a few cones scattered in the bed that I mostly just leave as a mulch.
The Tulipa ‘Foxtrot’, a double flowering tulip, and Muscari armeniacum ‘Blue Spike’ have been flowering together in my spring garden for a few years now. When I planted the Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ last summer, I wasn’t even thinking of it pairing with the spring bulbs. I planted the foamflower next to some other Tiarella and Heuchera, more for the pretty leaf combinations with the perennials, since the spring bulbs had already gone to sleep. I was delighted as the Tiarella started opening its buds at the end of May, because the light pink flowers make a good flower trio with the blue Muscari and double pink and white tulips. In the photo above, you can see the one obligatory off-colour tulip that is purple, and totally oblivious to the fact that it is growing in a sea of 50 pink tulips. However, I don’t have the heart to remove it, as it is only singing a little off key, and does it with as much enthusiasm as the rest of the choir.
Here is a closeup of ‘Spring Sympony’, showing the spikes half open. The Tiarella leaves are very fresh looking, with a small dark patch in the centre of each lobe. Even when not in flower, the plants are attractive. Each plant is about 15 cm (6 in) tall and 30 cm (1 ft) across, while the slower spikes are around 30 cm (12 in) tall. There are some Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley scattered through here, as you can see at the back of picture above. I’ve added many different foamflowers to my garden over the last few years, since they grow so well in the shade. In this previous post, you can read more about two of my favourite Tiarella.
This picture shows the beauty of the double flowering pink Tulipa ‘Foxtrot’. The extra petals make them stand out in the garden. These have held up well over three years, considering that this garden bed is on the north side of a fence and underneath a pine tree. It gets bits of light through the day, but not as much as a tulip would normally prefer.
Quite a few of the original tulip bulb planting are still going strong. I probably caused the loss of some of them when I disturbed them while planting more Tiarella and Heuchera here last summer, after the tulips had faded back. That’s one of the hazards of mixing spring bulbs amongst your perennials, but the extended flowering season and greater variety of appealing combinations are well worth it.
The Foxtrot tulips first open almost all white, and then get more pink over the next weeks of flowering. Above you can see the double tulips earlier on, when they were first getting some pink tinges. They have a beautifully soft look, especially when the sun shines through their petals. The flowers are more relaxed and open when the sunlight hits.
These four Tulipa ‘Foxtrot’ have been open for a while, and are developing a much darker pink shade, with just small streaks of white. This darker pink pairs well with the darker saturated colour of the Muscari bulbs.
These ‘Blue Spike’ Muscari are my favourite grape hyacinths. The spikes are so thick, that they make a much showier group than any of my other Muscari. Since they have so much more substance than other grape hyacinths, they can stand up well to the tulips. There are double the number of grape hyacinths as tulips, because they are smaller, and the group sizes balance well.
Look how many small petals ‘Blue Spike’ packs onto each stem. It would be difficult to squeeze any more blue onto those stems. The flowers on these are 3 to 5 times larger than my other Muscari, and the only type of grape hyacinth I have planted since I first saw how much better they look in the garden. The smaller the bulb, the more of them you need to show up in the garden. If you just have a few little dots of blue, they tend to fade into the background and get lost.
A large group of grape hyacinth bulbs are easily visible from across the garden, forming a beautiful lake of blue. ‘The Blue Spike’ do very well in this part shade to medium shade location. I’ve planted some Muscari with just Tiarella too.
When the bulbs fade, the various Campanula (bellflowers) in front will take over, flowering in blue and white. You can see them mixed with the grape hyacinths. The Campanula plants will expand, and help to hide the Muscari foliage as it withers away. There are also some Heuchera ‘Day Glow Pink’ with pink flowers, and Geranium ‘Rozanne’ with long lasting blue flowers to continue a similar colour scheme. A Heuchera plant with purple foliage is just visible at the back right of the above photo.
Behind this group are some Lamprocampus spectabilis (used to be Dicentra, bleeding hearts). These ones have just started to open from the base of the stem. Soon there will be a garland of white lanterns along the stems. The bleeding hearts are such easy shade plants to tuck in behind other shorter perennials, while giving some height. At the very back of the bed are two Hydrangea shrubs that will flower in late summer, one in white, and the other in pink and white.
This area is my favourite in the garden right now. The Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’, along with the tulip and Muscari bulbs can all be seen from my kitchen and family room windows, and give a shot of pretty spring colour to this shady corner under the pine tree. The foamflower was the perfect addition to this bright and cheery section of the garden. You can read more about Spring Symphony and 6 other Tiarella I grow.