Lamium maculatum ‘Chequers’ – A vigorous evergreen perennial (at least here on the coast) with a heavy flush of rosy-purple flowers in early spring, blooming sporadically until September – these are held over deep green leaves with a silver stripe down the middle. Lamium is an aggressive spreader and might be best left in containers. Drought tolerant. Grows 8-12″ high. Hardy to zone 2.
Pieris japonica ‘Cupido’ – While all Pieris japonica and taiwanensis will attract Mason Bees, this compact cultivar (only grows to about 3′ high) will fit into most urban gardens. ‘Cupido’ bears an abundance of pure white spring blooms from burgundy buds held over winter. This broadleaf evergreen shrub has deep green foliage and is hardy to zone 6.
Doronicum orientale (syn. Doronicum caucasicum) – A versatile herbaceous perennial that tolerates both full sun and partial shade. The bright yellow daisies are borne from April to June. The two most common cultivars available include the compact ‘Little Leo’ (12″ tall) and the taller ‘Magnificum’, which grows 18 to 24 inches tall. Leopard’s Bane is hardy to zone 3.
Myostis sylvatica – The old-fashioned Forget-Me-Not has been a staple of early spring gardens for over a hundred years. These are biennial in nature, but will often self-seed and colonize large patches. There are three basic colours – blue, pink and white – with some of the common forms being the ‘Victoria’ series (white, pink or blue 4-6″ high) and ‘Blue Ball’ (6-8″ high). Hardy to zone 3.
Erysimum cheiri ‘Persian Carpet’ (syn. Cheiranthus cheiri) – This Award of Garden Merit winning English Wallflower (15″ tall) bears a mixture of orange, gold, apricot, cream and purplish blooms from April through to June – these are highly fragrant and attract butterflies. It is considered biennial or a short-lived perennial and prefers neutral to alkaline soils (add lime) and full sun. Zone 6.