Garden Flowers For Beginners

Garden Flowers For Beginners

Garden flowers are divided according to their life-cycles, into three types. Annuals complete their life-cycle, from sowing to flowering and seed production, within 12 months. Many summer bedding and cut-flower plants belong to this group.

Biennials require two growing seasons to complete their life process from sowing to seed production. Pansies, foxgloves and evening primroses are examples. Perennials, which live and grow for more than two years, include trees, shrubs, bulbs, climbers and herbaceous plants.

SEED SOWING

To sow seeds outdoors, whether for annual, biennial or perennial plants, work well-cultivated soil down to a fine, crumb-like consistency; leave the surface level and firm. Mark the rows using pegs and a garden line. Use a draw hoe to make shallow, V-shaped drills; water the drills if the soil is dry. Annuals sown in situ should be scattered in drifts, rather than rows, to give a more natural arrangement.

After sowing, cover the seeds with fine soil and gently firm with the back of a rake. Keep the seed bed well watered and weed free. Seedlings sown in situ should be thinned in two stages, as with vegetables. Stake and tie tall varieties, or support them with twiggy sticks.

Transplant wallflowers when they are 7.5-10cm (3- 4 in.) high into nursery beds for growing on to final size. Space them 15 cm (6 in.) apart with 30 cm (1 ft) between the rows. Set them out with a trowel, making the holes large enough to take the roots comfortably.

PLANTING

Dig, manure and cultivate the ground for bedding and border plants and rake in 70 g/m2 of balanced fertilizer. Open-grown plants are best set out while dormant, between autumn and spring. Container-grown plants may be planted any time of the year, as long as the soil is reasonably workable.

When planting, make sure the roots are well spread out, and fine topsoil worked back into the roots, so there are no air pockets. Make sure the plant is set out at the same depth as before its move, and watered in if the soil is dry.

DIVISION

Many plants form clumps, crowns or stools which can be divided or split up to provide a ready means of increase. This is usually done while the plants are dormant, in autumn or early spring. The older, central portion of the clump is the least valu-

able in terms of growth or flowering capability. It can be discarded, and the younger, outer growths replanted in prepared beds or borders. Doronicums, Michaelmas daisies and most herbaceous subjects are examples of plants easily propagated by division.

If the clumps have very tough roots, two garden forks, inserted back to back in the centre of the clump and then levered apart, will break up the roots. Make sure there is a growth bud on each bit of the plant that you replant.

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