For the beginning gardener, spring seems like the time to start planning and planting the garden, but the even slightly seasoned gardener knows that there's plenty of plants ready to bloom in the late spring months. When looking for new plants, start your search by visiting your local garden center to see what plants are available that are native to your particular region--native perennials are already acclimated to your growing season and soil, use less water, provide food for insects and animals, and will not become invasive.
Most bulb flowers are still blooming come late spring. Scattering flowers such as tulips and daffodils in clumps through your garden give a naturalized, beautiful show while your perennials begin to grow. Other late spring blooming bulbs include narcissus, Spanish bluebell and scilla.
Spring, for the most part, is the time of growing for the perennial flower bed. By mixing bulbs, annuals and perennials, you can create a space that pops in color from early spring through fall.
A number of perennials are mingling among the tulips by late spring as the others are starting to grow. These include the blanket-like, tiny white or pink blooms of creeping phlox, the pink buds that turn to blue trumpets of the Virginia bluebell, the smaller crested iris that's perfect for shade, lungwort, prized as much for its foliage as its small pink, white or blue blooms, and the favorite viola which is often treated as an annual.
Annuals provide color from the time of planting into early fall, depending on type. Inexpensive, easy-to-grow and gorgeous, annuals are great for changing the look of your garden from year-to-year and filling in around those bulbs and perennials. Be sure of your growing zone and when the last chance of frost is likely when planting annuals. With shallow root systems, many annuals cannot survive a dusting of frost. Covering beds with a blanket overnight in the danger of frost can protect.
Early-blooming annuals that will give quite a show in late spring include petunias, marigolds, violets, snapdragons, nasturtium, sweet pea, sweet William and pansy. Consider growing your own annual seedlings indoors starting early spring.