The art of Flowering
Familiar to all gardeners of old, annuals and biennials never fail to delight. These abundantly flowering, short lived plants bring brilliant colour to garden obelisks, trellises, arches, banks and planters. They are easy and inexpensive to grow, and their innocent charm will take you back to simpler times.
The art of sowing
A good start: Conditions in the first two weeks after sowing will determine an annual's strength and beauty for the rest of the summer. To help seeds germinate quickly and plants to develop strong roots, sow them in mild weather, on moist, well-prepared soil. If the ground is poor and the weather too warm, the seeds will produce spindly and feeble plants.
For continuous flowers
Annuals have brief lives and need to be replaced at the end of their flowering period. For a regular supply of plants sow seeds in trays at intervals of two to four weeks, starting in April. Some gardeners use this method to replenish their borders several times a year.
Patience: Most annuals can be sown in April or May and will flower later in the summer. Some, such as marigold (Calendula), can be sown in autumn and after mild winters will often start to flower in March. But be patient and choose the right time to sow a plant sown in April will often overtake the same plant sown a month earlier, and may give a better display of flowers.
Biennials for spring colour: From July to August sow daisy, campanula, viola, polyanthus, forget-me-not, foxglove, wallflowers and other biennials. Plant them out into their flowering positions in October. They will spend the winter producing leaves, and flower the following spring.
Hardy choices for beginners: Some species put up with all manner of mistreatment and still germinate well. If you are new to gardening, start with these tolerant favourites.
Cosmos: From June to the end of October, its graceful white, pink or deep red flowers are carried on long slender stalks 80-15Ocm high. The foliage is delicate and feathery.
Scarlet runner beans: As well as producing edible beans, this annual flowers from July to September, thus earning its place in many cottage gardens, where it was traditionally grown up chestnut poles. Its foliage is abundant, it puts out white or bicoloured flowers and the plant will climb to 1.8-2.4m.
lf you live in cooler regions, start sowing a few seeds during the Autumn and winter in a cold greenhouse or cold frame.
Sow large seeds individually in plug modules and smaller seeds in planters or seed trays, then prick them out into individual planters later. Be sure to label all your seeds. You can also buy
established plug plants from specialist nurseries or garden centres. Wait 24 hours after receiving them, then prick them out into trays or individual planters. Grow them on in frost-free conditions for about four weeks before planting out.
Many plants can be cheaply and easily raised from seed, under glass or in the ground.
Antirrhinum, begonia,cosmos, dahlia, gazonia, gerbera, impatiens, limonium, morning glory (lpomoea), petunia,
salvia , sweet pea and thunbergia.
African and French marigolds, everlasting flowers (Helipterum), nasturtium and tagetes. Plant out from the end of May to the beginning of June. Mimulus, lavatera and nemesia should be kept under glass until all danger of frost has passed.