Early Spring Bloomers for Your Garden

March 21, 2024

By Kathleen Kennedy, Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

Snow crocus (Crocus tommasinianus)
For many people, crocus signal the end of winter and the beginning of spring. One of the first to bloom is snow crocus, also known as “tommies,” a species native to the woods and shady hillsides of the Balkans. It pops its grass-like leaves out of the ground in late winter and they are quickly followed by 3-4 inch flowers in shades of rose, lavender and purple.

Though smaller than more commonly sold Crocus species and with a more limited color palette, tommies offer a distinct advantage over others because it is squirrel-resistant. Squirrels love crocus bulbs and will dig and gobble them up as fast as you plant them, but not tommies. In fact, tommies are great naturalizers and will increase and spread over time. Plant them in the fall, about 3 inches deep, in sun or shade. They are great for meadows, shrub borders or planted with ornamental grasses and perennials.


Johnny-jump-up (Viola tricolor)
The cheery face of a Johnny-jump-up is a welcome sight in early spring. Also known as heartsease, it is the first plant to bloom in the herb garden’s medicinal bed here at Bridge Gardens. Associated with Cupid and desire since ancient times, it has been used to treat inflammation, skin diseases, bronchitis and asthma. A favorite of Queen Elizabeth I., its edible flowers make an attractive garnish for salads and desserts.

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