In the spring while most plants are still showing their new pale green growth and annuals are yet to be added to the garden, the early border is generally consists of splashes of colorful bulbs and a few early perennials against a backdrop of green foliage and brown earth. Spring bulbs are important to the early garden as they offer the earliest blooms of all spring flowers. Some bulbs will last until the perennials take over in May and June. Also, in the spring through early summer there are more shrubs and trees in bloom than at any other time of year. Most early perennials are suitable for the shady or part shady garden as they take advantage of the sun while it still reaches the ground beneath deciduous trees.
Some great early blooming perennials for the border garden include iris which ranges in color from white to purple and size from a few inches to 4 feet. Green is still the dominant color in the landscape in the spring and early summer so choose as few plants for their foliage as well. Hosta grows in many shades of green, from blue-green to gold-green, and are the perfect backdrop plant for the spring flowers. Since early blooming perennial are generally short lived and often lose their lush foliage (poppies & lupine in particular) annuals and later season perennials should be ready to take over throughout the garden.
Columbine - A shade tolerant, colorful perennial which is at home in the perennial border as well as the woodland garden.
Poppy - Flowering for a brief time in the spring the poppy adds a great color while in bloom. Its foliage fades quickly after flowering.
Primrose - With hundreds of varieties to choose from, primrose offer gardeners a wide selection of colorful flowers.
Peony - One of the showiest of the spring/early summer perennials
Lupine - Another perennial which has great showy flowers in the spring only to have its foliage fade quickly after blooming. Deadheading will often result in a second blooming.
Anenome - A great perennial for brightening up a shade or woodland garden.
Vinca - An early, purple flowering groundcover with deep green foliage.
Forget-Me-Not - Blue flowering early perennial.
Lungwort - A shade tolerant perennial with pink or blue flowers.