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It's Spring in the Southern Hemisphere (here in Australia) and there's quite a bit of panic among those of us who are not quite 'confident' in the garden. What am I going to Plant? and What goes with what? are the two big questions. Oh no, it's too late to plant Forget Me Nots!!! Well yes it is, but only if you want flowers this year. However, there are not many like that.
You can plant Forget Me Nots right now, but I wouldn't sit around waiting for them to flower - well not this year anyhow. Why not? Because they are Biennials - they grow all their green bits this year, and their flowers don't appear until the second year - next year. So do plant them, just don't expect the flowers yet. Because if you don't plant them this year ... you'll be right back where you started this time next year again.
Other Biennials on the List of Spring flowers are the Delphiniums and Hollyhocks, so you can either buy the seeds and sow them now or buy the plant plugs and get them in. Just make sure you plant them in the back row. If you get it wrong, just pull them up and rearrange them next year. I wouldn't move them until they've done all the hard work and they have healthy stems and leaves.
A List of Spring Flowers. All of these are the Names of Spring Flowers which I have grown.
Did you know that you can sow some plants in early autumn? There are quite a few. By doing this, even though some may need covering for winter protection, they will come up much earlier and flower in early spring when they are meant to flower by Nature.
We usually rely on bulbs to do this, but we can have more. These plants are generally called Hardy Annuals and Half Hardy Annuals. Half Hardy Annuals will still need some light cover during the coldest months. Autumn is also the best time to work over your soil and get it just right.
Hardy Annuals which may not need any cover are Primroses, Calendulas, Nigella, Lunaria, Iceland Poppies, Snapdragons and Larkspurs. You can even plant hardy seeds in winter as long as the soil is not frozen. This centuries old tradition is now being brought back to the delight of many gardeners.
Growing Annuals using Cool Weather Techniques, the main one being 'Plant Them Early'. You can Look Inside this wonderful book from Amazon. This book shows you the way with Cold Hardy Annuals.
Cool Flowers. By Lisa Marion Ziegler.
This is one book is all you need to garden and grow flowers which bloom and keep on blooming. Use Cool Weather Techniques to create your annual garden. The mind bogglingly simple one is: Plant them Earlier. A Best Seller and I can see why. Planting before the sun is too hot (as it is in spring). I had no idea ..... Actually, this book is all you need to be a real gardener.
From the back cover:
'Expert flower grower Lisa Zeigler profiles 30 long-blooming stars of the spring garden, the "hardy annuals" that thrive when they are planted during cool conditions (instead of waiting until the warmth of spring and losing much of the season). Give them a cool start, plant them in the right spot at the right time, and stand back. In no time at all you’ll have a low-maintenance, vibrant spring flower garden that keeps on blooming when the "tender annuals" are dead and gone'.
31st October, 2014. Having read this book last night - and it is quite a book - I really feel that what little knowledge of gardening I carried with me from the past was just that: very little. Now my whole outlook to plants and the garden has changed. This book is not very big but it is very substantial. It is no paperback. It is beautifully made with glorious photos every step of the way. And, of course, it is a story. Telling it in story form is what makes this book real for me. My next garden will be a real garden, grown the way Nature intended it to be. And even how to 'do' the soil is accompanied by clear photos for each task. And there are only a handful of tasks. It's just so easy and it's all organic gardening. Naturally.
I Love It! The Book. Lisa's writing is amazing. So easy to read and she really takes you through how her life changed suddenly when she firstly found what her dream was, and then how it came about. If you get emotional about beauty, especially flowers, then this book is for you. My next update will be on its own page. About this book. Thank you, Lisa, I am now thinking of a new career move too. Just need to get a few acres ... Cut Flowers? No, not really, I just want to really get into this and have blooms forever. Hardy Annuals are really the only way to have a bloomin' garden nearly all year round. The Primroses above are Cold Hardy annuals but they are not listed in the book. That's because Lisa sticks to just her 30 favourites which have been selected for special reasons. So don't give up on the Primrose. And here's the book on its own page. Cool Flowers.
This section has been moved from Annual Plants as once again I have run out of room. Even in the online world of flowers there is a lot of pruning and snipping, not to mention dividing and transplanting.
Dianthus caryophyllus. (Carnation family.) Dianthus are really perennials which we grow as annuals. Carnations are the traditional flower for Mothers Day in the USA. But here in Australia it is the Chrysanthemums- officially perennials but which bloom annually in the autumn for the second Sunday in May. My favourite carnations are the big frilly ones with the divine perfume that only carnations can have. I also love the mini dianthus which looks like a small version of the large ones.
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus ) are tough. But they do respond to a little TLC just to prevent them from becoming scraggy. They love full sun and there quite a few types. They will climb like a vine or spread out over anything which will have them. You can't make a mistake with these little gems. And you can eat them, leaves and all.
Ranunculus. Beautiful bright colours for spring and summer. They are tubers which grow to about 18 inches (45 cms). But don't eat these ones. They are poisonous to animals, so farmers don't like them and will cause skin irritation in humans. Unfortunately, the beautiful Buttercup is a member of this family. Choose wisely when selecting a site for these annual plants.
Blue Cornflower, Bachelor's Button or Basket Flower. What a tough little plant! See it on Cool Flowers. A top blue annual from the Asteraceae family (Asters, Daisies, Gerberas, etc). It also comes in pink and white. I have grown these gorgeous annuals in pots and they are tough and striking when mixed together. They grow from from 16-30 inches tall (41-76 cms). Cornflowers would have to be one of my favourites of all time. Grow them all in the same pot - pink, white and blue. Adorable, even though they have no perfume. They just say 'country garden' wherever you put them. Such an easy flower to grow. You may need to put a few thin but sturdy stakes in the pot to support them against the wind.
Snapdragons are really tough little annual plants which can tolerate most soils, and will even cope with some early frost in autumn. They are good old-fashioned flowers which means they are reliable. I have had great success with them in a sub-tropical region which I thought was impossible. But I was so desperate for old-fashioned annuals I grew up with. And I was determined. They grew so well for the spring and into summer in some dreadful soil (clay). They are perennials and like well-drained soil with full to part sun. Keep them watered regularly but not too much. They come in three sizes: dwarf (6-8 inches), medium (15-30 inches) and tall (30-48 inches). That's a pretty good variety. Just don't be scared of them. they will self-seed easily for the next year. Another Cool Flower. They're the ones on the cover.
Impatiens. Busy Lizzie. (Definitely named after my Grand-daughter). There are between 850 - 1,000 different species of Impatiens, most of which are bright, cheerful and beautiful. However, there is nothing lovelier than the good old reliable Impatiens walleriana, or Busy Lizzie. They can grow from 16 inches to 2 feet and are so prolific that you will spend a lot of time pulling them out if you are as lucky as I was when mine took over the edges of the driveway, even growing in cracks in the concrete. They would wilt if the sun was too hot, but next morning they'd be back as fresh as daisies. They come in all colours and they are single or double. They remind me of the cane-like begonias because of their fleshy stalks. They really are quite stunning with many colours mixed together.
Ageratum houstonianum (Floss flower, blue mink, blueweed, pussy foot, Mexican Paintbrush). Another of the blue annual flowers which I love. A delicate looking and striking flower which is excellent for garden bedding. It grows to 1 metre and also comes in pink, lavender, purple, gold and white. It will flower from spring through to autumn. It is poisonous to animals but Butterflies and Hummingbirds love it. This plant loves the heat.