Posted 17th Jan 2017
Gardening expert Kate Gould tells us a bit about Annuals - and why they could be the plant for you
Soldier straight, millimetre perfect rows of Polyanthus, Wallflowers, Marigolds, Impatiens and Geraniums, the thought of these conjures up dated images of municipal roundabouts and brightly coloured local authority schemes.
Much beloved by gardeners for centuries this type of bedding scheme has continued to remain in fashion and for good reason. It isn’t necessarily for the precision planting that is has endured but for the plants themselves. Annuals are quite amazing plants, the seeds are inexpensive to buy, easy to grow, come to bloom in a short space of time and if cared for, fed and watered, will bloom right up until the frosts; what more could you ask for? Perhaps this ‘value for money’ is why we are again looking towards annuals for colour in the garden. We are just finding more contemporary and less rigid ways of using them.
Using annuals in the garden does mean hardening your heart to patches of bare earth, which early in the spring there is a huge urge to fill. You can of course buy annuals or pre-grown bedding plants from your local garden centre and plant them out after the threat of frosts has passed but there is much more fun to be had in growing them from seed yourself. With a bit of warmth, space and good light you can grow a myriad of plants that once hardened off can be planted out in late May where they will quickly spread and cover any bare earth you may have had on show.
Cosmea, Nicotiana and Cleome, are a fabulous late summer addition to any self-respecting border. They associate so well with grasses such as Calamagrostis and Stipa and can be woven in and out of Thalictrum, in a happy accident helping to support their dainty stems and if you don’t mind a clash of colours try then with Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ or Dahlia ‘Fascination’ too.
Annuals really are worth their weight in gold. Demanding little and performing so well for such a little economic outlay they are a great way to bulk up young gardens. There are so many to chose from that the selection an be boggling but stick to a colour theme or if in doubt you can purchase a pack of seeds with different varieties all intended to compliment each other. Whichever option you choose, you will not be disappointed.