We usually figure on Mother’s Day for our last frost date at Linden Hill, and sure enough, it’s right on cue this year. We certainly didn’t expect to see snowflakes, though! Fortunately, it looks like the cold snap is almost over and we can get on with the business of enjoying spring. To celebrate, let’s visit some of our favorite late-spring bloomers. Above is the classic wood forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica), here combined with lavender-purple creeping mazus (Mazus reptans). If you enjoy creating sophisticated plant partnerships, try pairing forget-me-nots with yellow flowers or foliage to echo the tiny yellow center in those sky-blue blooms.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) belong your herb or vegetable garden for their oniony leaves and flowers, of course, but they’re also pretty enough to earn a place in ornamental beds and borders. The ball-shaped pink blooms pair beautifully with yellow-, white-, or blue-flowered partners–such as the wood forget-me-nots–as well as chartreuse or white-variegated foliage.

The sunny yellow umbels of golden Alexander (Zizia aurea) look terrific with many shades of blues and purples, from icy blue bluestars (Amsonia) to rich purple-blue false indigo (Baptisia australis).

‘Ravenswing’ cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’) is practically black in leaf, creating a dramatic contrast with its own bright white blooms. Its dark foliage blends into bare soil or brown mulch but looks terrific popping up through green-leaved bedmates, such as barrenworts (Epimedium) and variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’).

For dark flowers instead, consider dusky cranesbill (Geranium phaeum) [above] or ‘Black Barlow’ columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) [below]. As with “black” foliage, dark flowers need a light-colored background to stand out. Chartreusey to rich golden foliage, like that of ‘Gold Heart’ bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) in some shade or Mellow Yellow spirea (Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’) in sun, makes an excellent backdrop for contrast.

Quiz time: What do these six plants have in common besides a similar bloom period? They all produce an abundance of seeds, which is a good thing if you want a few more plants but potentially problematic if they reseed too enthusiastically. If you start seeing too many seedlings after a few years, consider cutting most or all of the flowering stems close to the ground as soon as the blooms are finished. Besides breaking the reseeding cycle, this sort of deadheading can also encourage the plants to produce a flush of new basal leaves, so they look full and fresh for the summer months, and they’ll store plenty of energy to produce a spectacular show next spring.