After nearly six months of no leaves or flowers in cold and windy weather, nothing lifts the spirits like the first shrubs of spring to bloom. In Colorado, many of the very early flowering shrubs struggle to have a complete bloom cycle as they bloom before the danger of a hard frost has passed. One trick is to plant these early flowering varieties on the cooler sides of buildings so that the flowers are not tricked into opening too early. Otherwise, it seems worth the risk to plant at least one or two plants to remind you that spring is here and life is set to renew for another season.
A few of the early plants to consider are forsythia, flowering almond, flowering quince, and magnolia. The forsythia is generally at least six feet tall and has beautiful yellow flowers. A few of the varieties like northern sun or meadowlark have buds that can withstand some colder temperatures as they are about to open. There are some smaller varieties but they are not as wildly colorful.
Flowering almond is one of the most beautiful pink flowering plants. These plants need to be placed so that the strong spring winds do not hit them when they are blooming as the flowers will be destroyed when they are open. Again this plant is at least six feet tall.
Flowering quince is a red or orange colored flower with leaves that also offer some interesting color shades. The plant has thorns and some people use the fruit that is produced.
There are some varieties of magnolia that are growing nicely along the front range in Colorado. The magnolia blooms have a wonderful fragrance but the plants can get fairly large and need some room.