For much of the United States, April is the month in which garden landscapes finally break the bonds of winter. Crocus, daffodil and tulip bulbs send up their fresh green leaves and bright blooms. Dogwoods and magnolias fill the air with clouds of fragrant bloom. Plants that bloom in April reward the gardener for the care taken in putting last season's garden to bed and promise a rewarding gardening season to come.
Pigsqueak (Bergenia cordifolia) 'Winterglut', an April-blooming perennial, is hardy to minus 30 degrees F. Growing 12 to 18 inches high and wide, this shade-loving plant forms clumps of large--up to 10 inches long--heart-shaped deep green leaves. The glossy, serrated foliage becomes bronze-purple in autumn and winter. In April, 'Winterglut' has thick stems with clusters of magenta blooms that may lie under or above the foliage.
Use this largely pest- and disease-resistant plant as a shade garden ground cover or along shaded border edges, suggests the Missouri Botanical Garden. Tolerating both partial and full shade, it's happiest in humus-rich, moist soil. Remove any leaves damaged during winters in the lower end of its hardiness range.
Weeping Eastern Redbud 'Covey'
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is an ornamental tree native to the eastern and central United States. 'Covey' is a dwarf, 4- to 10-foot-high weeping eastern redbud cultivar hardy to minus 20 degrees F. It has a heavy, arching crown with hanging branches. Clusters of small pinkish-lavender flowers bloom along its branches before its leaves emerge in April. The tree's heart-shaped foliage has hints of red when new. Blue-green summer foliage becomes yellow in autumn.
'Covey' is vulnerable to several insects and diseases, including leafhoppers, scale, canker, mildew and blight. Plant the tree, recommends the Missouri Botanical Garden, where its branches will cascade down walls. Give it full sun to partial shade--best where summers are hot--and consistently moist, well-drained soil.
Carolina Yellow Jasmine
Carolina yellow jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens), a vine native to the open woods and thickets of the southern Untied States, is hardy to 0 degrees F. Reaching 12 to 20 feet long and up to 6 feet wide, it blooms between February and April, depending on its location. Plants have fragrant, vivid yellow 1 1/2-inch blooms. The trumpet-like flowers occur singly or in clusters. Glossy, pale green leaves are evergreen in mild climates, often taking on winter shades of purple or yellow. Use the plant as a climbing vine or ground cover, suggests the Missouri Botanical Garden. It likes full sun and rich, moist, well-drained soil. Note that ingesting any part of this plant is toxic.