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Spring Eternal

A photo essay on the perennial pleasure of spring flowers that thrive on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket

A photo essay on the perennial pleasure of spring flowers that thrive on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket

Spring comes so slowly to the Cape and Islands. The frigid water all around the landscape keeps our garden soil cold long past the first day of spring. While inland landscapes are bright with daffodils, on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket we must be content with the emerging foliage of green daffodil tips barely poking through the still frozen earth.

When spring finally does grace our shores, the sight of the season’s first tiny flowers—ethereal snowdrops and bright Crocus—bring joy to everyone, especially grateful gardeners on their knees in backyards from Bourne to Vineyard Haven.

On these pages we share some spring perennials that thrive in Cape and Islands gardens to warm your winter-weary soul.

Hellebore • Helleborus niger

One of the first perennials to appear in Cape gardens—Hellebore is native to Europe, but it blooms beautifully in New England when planted in a semi-shady location. First appearing in February, the five-petaled flowers in charteuse, lavender, and cream survive frigid temperatures before other spring blooms appear.

Snowdrop • Galanthus

The sight of these sweet bells poking though the snow in late February and early March has long been a delight for seaside gardeners desperate for a touch of spring. Tiny snowdrop bulbs are easy to plant in the fall; just choose a sunny location and plant shallow sweeps along a driveway, surrounding trees, or lining a front walk. Snowdrops can last for generations, pleasing all who see their pristine beauty.

Crocus • Crocus

Diminutive Crocus are a bright sight when they pop up in vibrant purple and gold in backyards and community gardens. Native to Southern Europe, these vivid perennials are best planted in large groups. The tiny corms are planted in the fall. For a lovely Cape Cod display of Crocus, visit many community gardens, such as the Armstrong-Kelley Park in Osterville.

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