Spring Pink Blooms

Welcome the new season with our top picks for your garden. You're guaranteed tons of blooms.
Ellen Ruoff Riley / Photography Ralph Anderson / Styling Buffy Hargett
Web Exclusive: 7 Pinks and Coordinating Plants:
Plentiful Pink
Expand your palette of rosy blooms with these selections.

Trees and Shrubs:
1. Saucer Magnolia ( Magnolia x soulangeana)--Upper, Middle, Lower, and Coastal South
2. Dwarf Flowering Almond ( Prunus glandulosa 'Sinensis')--Upper, Middle, and Lower South
3. Loropetalum chinense--Middle, Lower, and Coastal South

Perennials:
4. Sweet William ( Dianthus barbatus)--Upper, Middle, Lower, and Coastal South
5. Cheddar Pink ( Dianthus gratianopolitanus)--Upper, Middle, and Lower South
6. Foxglove ( Digitalis purpurea Foxy strain)--Upper, Middle, Lower, and Coastal South
7. Astilbe ( Astilbe x arendsii)--Upper and Middle South


Perfect Pairings
Pink can be tricky to marry with other flower colors. Various shades of blue and purple offer good-looking options. White is a safe choice, and silver foliage plants such as Artemisia 'Powis Castle' and dusty miller make stunning companions.

There's no more joyful palette than the full spectrum of pink. These are the flowers you want to dive into, flowers you want to wear, and flowers that stop you in your tracks. The first wake-up call of the new season resounds with the ?Okame' flowering cherry trees. As days grow longer and warmer, a progression of blooms entices you to take time and enjoy the show. Here are some of our favorites.

'Okame' Flowering Cherry
Spring's firstborn petals arrive on these earliest-blooming cherry trees. Billows of blooms dress the upright physique of 'Okame' flowering cherry ( Prunus 'Okame') in a cameo-colored cloud. This fast-growing tree matures at 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide and proclaims the season's arrival in all Southern regions. Two other well-known flowering cherries, 'Kwanzan' ( P. serrulata 'Kwanzan') and Yoshino ( P. x yedoensis), continue the spectacular show later in the season.

Tulips
While much of spring's floral outpouring flirts with flamboyance, tulips personify statuesque, elegant ladies. If you didn't plant bulbs in the fall or your region is too warm to enjoy them in the garden, purchase pots that have been coaxed into bloom. Keep the flowers cool and the soil slightly moist to prolong the show. When done, tuck them into the Upper South garden, take a gamble on them coming back in the Middle South, and add them to the compost pile in the Lower and Coastal South. 'Pink Impression' and 'Menton' produce single blooms in the soft pink spectrum. 'Angelique' delivers double, pale rose-colored blooms.

Azaleas
When this most beloved shrub erupts into flower, subtlety has left the South. Every imaginable pink shade inhabits this large family, and, with proper plant selection, you can grow them throughout our region. Consult local nurseries for the best choices in your area. If your soil doesn't fall into the acid category azaleas love, try a few in large containers. The mounding Kurume Hybrid 'Coral Bells' produces vibrant pink blooms. Southern Indica Hybrid 'George Lindley Taber' offers gentle shades on loose, airy plants, and the Satsuki Hybrids such as 'Bunkwa' and 'Gumpo Pink' bring late blooms to the garden.

Peonies
Voluptuous peonies hover somewhere between prom dress and tango attire. If you could wear this wonderfully fragrant flower, surely you would dance around all night. But like anyone who does, the peony also needs time to cool down. A winter chill is necessary for successful blooms, so this plant grows best in the Upper and Middle South. The warmer Lower and Coastal South must (and should) indulge in a few purchased cut stems. 'Sarah Bernhardt' offers pale pink blooms, 'Jacorma' dons bright pink petals, and 'Paula Fay' brings a deep shade and long stems for cutting.

Roses
When roses unfurl their first magnificent show, give up the ?gotta-go-so-so-busy? race. Just for a minute, let the fragrance of an heirloom rose prompt a moment of meditation. Numerous selections, such as this 'Climbing American Beauty', offer easy care and grow willingly throughout the South. There is a plant appropriate to every size garden or container. 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' drips in soft pink blooms, while 'Katy Road Pink' kicks up the color with vivid hues. The ultimate easy rose, 'Pink Knock Out,' offers oodles of blooms and takes on drought without flinching.

"Spring Pinks" is from the March 2008 issue of Southern Living.