UNITED STATES—Bloom that was delayed by the unusually wintry winter is making up for lost time. Spring bulbs, flowering cherries and deciduous magnolias were amazing. Wisterias and lilacs continue their pastel display within some climates. More flowers bloom during springtime than at any other time of year. Even roses of summer will begin their performance soon.
Pollination is the priority of all flowers. The majority of flowers exploit wind for pollination. Because they need not attract pollinators, they are neither very colorful nor very fragrant. Colorful and fragrant flowers are the minority that compete for the attention of pollinators. This includes the same colorful and fragrant flowers that are desirable for home gardens.
Whether reliant on wind or pollinators for pollination, flowers adhere to a strict schedule. Some colorful and fragrant flowers want to be receptive while their pollinators are active. However, pollinators are more likely to adjust their schedules to exploit favorite flowers. After all, there is another major incentive for spring bloom. Seed needs time to develop.
Flowers are intended to merely attract pollinators.
Pollination is the priority of all flowers because it is how they generate seed. Some seed develops fast enough to grow into new plants within the same year. Some annuals can actually procreate for a few fast generations annually. Most seed develop slower though. They mature during summer, overwinter, and ultimately grow during the following spring.
For now, garden enthusiasts should enjoy the most abundant bloom of the year. That will not require too much exertion. Fresh fruit of summer will develop later. Some flowers that deteriorate without producing fruit may justify deadheading. This redirects resources for vegetative growth and eliminates any unwanted seed. Besides, it might be a bit neater.
The most profuse spring flowers generally bloom only once annually. They will not do so again until next spring. Some less profuse bloomers may repeat with later bloom phases through summer. Of course, some flowers bloom within other seasons between summer and even winter. Their individual schedules are appropriate to the climates that they are originally native to.
Highlight: Pride of Madeira
This is most certainly something to be proud of. Pride of Madeira, Echium candicans (or fastuosum), can bloom perfectly blue. Varieties that bloom white or lighter lavender blue are rare locally. Feral specimens might exhibit such floral color variation though. Bloom occurs only annually but can last through spring. Butterflies and bees are very fond of it.
Pride of Madeira occasionally self-sows, but is not too aggressively invasive. It performs exceptionally well within coastal climates. Feral specimens on inaccessible coastal cliffs are only briefly scruffy after bloom. Deadheading within home gardens is tidier and limits seed dispersion. Moderate watering enhances foliar color. Excessive watering rots roots.
Small new specimens of pride of Madeira grow fast but perform for only about five years. They generally get about six feet tall and eight feet wide. Cool or foggy coastal weather promotes taller and more vigorous growth. Warm exposure might promote more compact growth. The narrow and grayish leaves are rather raspy. ‘Star of Madeira’ is a variegated and compact cultivar.
Tony Tomeo can be contacted at tonytomeo.com.