Spring Annuals

With spring annuals, you can design and plant a backyard flower garden that will lift your spirits in a single glance.


| February/March 1994



142 spring annuals - cover

Planting spring annuals can add color and shape to your yard.


PHOTO: WALTER CHANDOHA

Regardless of the size and shape of your yard, you probably have room for at least a few bright splashes of color. While they may not be as utterly practical as a vegetable or herb garden, there's no denying their surefire power to provide happiness. Too many people avoid growing flowers because of their fragility and short life span. With some smart planning and judicious use of spring annuals, however, you can have flowers practically all year round.

Start With A Plan

When it comes to planning a flower garden, start by allowing your imagination to run wild on paper. Sketch out the existing landscape, and use colored pencils or crayons to fill in green foliage with splashes of color. Remember during this planning stage that not all plants bloom at the same time, and not all plants bloom from early spring throughout the fall. It may help you to try out selected colors on different tracing-paper overlays according to their different blooming seasons.

As you are designing, decide where in your yard you need some shape and color, then choose plants that conform to the surroundings as well as your desires. Small beds or edgings along low hedges or beneath foundation plantings demand a low-growing choice; try ageratum, alyssum, or begonias. In larger areas, you can vary the height to make the effect more interesting, especially if the ground is flat. In a freestanding bed, place taller plants in the center, stepping down to an intermediate-size plant and then to a ground-hugging plant in front. For a border against a fence or wall, place the tallest plant in back and work your way up to the front with smaller sizes.

For a mixed bed or border, choose three sizes of plants. Combine three varieties of the same plant, such as zinnias or marigolds, in different heights or by combining three different plants, such as tall spider flowers and medium-size dahlias, trimmed with a carpet of low-growing petunias. Also take advantage of diverse flower shapes when designing your mixed bed. Imagine a combination of spiked snapdragons intermingled with mounded begonias and edged with low-growing lobelia. Flowering plants also grow upright and bushy (African marigolds) or in an open, informal manner (cosmos). Again, try to work in groups of three.

Combining plants with different flower shapes will also make a mixed bed or border more interesting. Mix plumes of snapdragons with globes of marigolds, trumpet-shaped petunias, and a wide assortment of single, double, round, daisy-shaped, frilled, or irregularly shaped flowers. However, remember that there are no hard and set rules when it comes to designing; mass planting of one variety in one shape or color is just as appealing as a rainbow of colors. The decision depends on the effect you want to achieve.

If the ground is flat, building berms (mounds of soil) for mass plantings will give them height and more perspective. If space is tight, plant in areas that are most visible. For example, plant beds or borders along the walkway or driveway to greet you when you come home, or place them in your backyard if you'll be relaxing there on weekends.





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