Nearly 80 percent of Canada's roughly 5,000 plant species have flowers, according to the Canadian Biodiversity website. Canadian gardeners have no shortage of material with which to add color and form to their landscapes. Spring flowers in Canada include charming ground covers, eye-catching border annuals or perennials and fruit-bearing shrubs and trees. Blooming as early as January, they will jump start the flower garden season.
Canadian Wild Ginger
Canadian wild ginger (Asarum canadensis) is a ground cover native to the woods of Manitoba, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. A 4- to 8-inch high perennial, it has thick, colonizing ginger-flavored roots. Two large, heart--shaped leaves on each plant conceal its reddish or greenish-brown flower. Hardy to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, wild ginger blooms between April and June, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Use as a shade garden ground cover in fertile, rich soil with a pH between six and seven. Note that some people develop skin irritation from touching this plant.
Springbeauty (Claytonia virginica), a 4- to 12-inch purslane family perennial, grows in the woods of Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia. Its sweet, edible tuber was a traditional Native American food. The plant' single stem has two grass-like green leaves. Between January and May, Virginia springbeauty has an open cluster of white or pale pink blooms veined with deeper pink. Plants go dormant after setting seed. Their sparse foliage, however, means no noticeable gap. Springbeauty is most impressive massed in large groups, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Give it moist, humus-rich acidic---pH below 6.8---soil and partial shade.
Tall thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana) is a multiple-stemmed, 2- to 3-foot perennial that thrives on prairies and woodland edges throughout southern Canada. Clusters green leaves appear halfway up its upright stems. Between May and mid-summer, each stem bears a white flower. The bloom's thimble-like center develops a cottony texture after the first frost. Use the drought-tolerant plant in perennial gardens and meadows, recommends the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Provide full sun to partial shade and acidic soil. Ingesting fresh plants in large amounts is toxic.
Spring-blooming American plum (Prunus americanus), a rose family tree, reaches up to 35 feet. Native to the stream banks and woodland edges in Québec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, it has profuse clusters of fragrant, white April and May blooms. Green leaves become vivid red or yellow in autumn. Plums mature into bright red in late summer. Edible right off the thorny tree, they also make good preserves, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Plant American plum in sun to shade and well-drained, moist fertile loam.