Hardy Annuals and Biennials For Cutting

Among the very wide range of plants grouped together as hardy annuals, and which are useful and adaptable for many purposes in the garden, there are a very large number which are ideal for cutting. They are of easy culture, and many will grow and flower well with even the most casual treatment. The inexperienced gardener will have no difficulty in securing a wealth of bloom, in some cases within a few weeks of sowing the seeds. While a separate border of hardy annuals looks impressive, they may be used most effectively in all parts of the garden. However limited may be the space available, there are annuals which will fit in and yield a plentiful supply of cut blooms. The fact that the seeds are cheap to buy does not imply that the flowers they produce are inferior. This is not so, and in addition entirely different varieties may be grown in successive years.

I will endeavour to list some, and only some, of the worth-while hardy annuals which will look well and last well, where used in floral arrangements.

AGERATUM is normally used as an edging plant, but the species A. mexicatuan grows 8 in. tall, theAGERATUM soft, lavender-blue flowers looking well when cut. Seed should be sown under glass in the early spring, the plants being put outdoors in late May.

AGROSTEMMA GITHAGO is the Corn Cockle; the variety most worth growing is Milas, which has pale, rosy-lilac flowers on 21-3-ft stems. It is free blooming, and the long, stiff stems are graceful, making it a fine subject for garden decoration and for cutting from May until September. Sow the seed in the spring, preferably where the plants are to flower; alternatively sow in September.

Amaranthus caudatus is better known as Love-lies-bleeding, the seed of which can be sown outdoors in April. The long, drooping tassels are amaranth-red, while there is a greenish-white form. Treated well, the really long tassels will last for some time. The plants may also be cultivated in pots.

ANTIRRHINUM. Although not really an annual, it is usually treated as one, a fresh stock of plants being raised annually. Present-day named varieties do produce true-to-colour description flowers. While it is usual to sow seed under glass during February and March and to put the plants outdoors when hardened off, the best bushy, free-flowering plants are secured from a sowing made in August. This can be done in trays as with sowings in heat, the resultant seedlings being pricked off into other trays in the usual way and kept in the frame during the winter. It is also possible to make an open-ground sowing of antirrhinums in the autumn with no more risk than with sowings of clarkia and godetia.

Since the seed is so tiny, it must barely be covered with soil, and with open-ground sowings the site must be shaded until the young seedlings are well established.

The range of varieties is increasingly wide. Apart from the self-coloured sorts, there are many having several attractive colour tones which merge and shade in such a way as to provide a very pleasing effect.

The colour range is very wide indeed, taking in crimson, scarlet, rose, carmine, orange, yellow, white and several with central blotches of yellow or white. Some strains grow only a foot high, others are 15-18 in., while the tall varieties will often attain 21-3 ft.

A great advance in recent years has been the introduction of the rust-resistant strains, although as yet the colour range of these is very limited.

ARCTOTIS is generally treated as a half-hardy subject, seed being sown under glass in March, and the seedlings hardened off for outdoor planting in May and June. The plants like the sun and well-drained soil, and flower freely until the frosts come. A. grandis, 2 ft, is silvery-white with a mauve centre, while there are hybrids ranging in colour from white to primrose yellow, all with a blue central disc. In very dull weather, the flowers are loth to open.

CALENDULA. One of the hardiest and most serviceable of all annuals, it can, given reasonable conditions, often be found in bloom throughout the year. Its one fault is a tendency to seed freely, so that it is essential to remove unwanted seedlings before they smother other nearby plants.

Although calendulas will grow almost anywhere, and seed sprinkled on the ground and roughly worked in will produce quite good results, for the finest flowers a sunny position and a fairly well-drained soil should be chosen. Seed sown in September will produce blooms from March onwards, especially if cloches are used during the winter, while sowings made in early spring will provide blooms from August on.

There are a number of good varieties in many shades of yellow and orange, ranging in height from 15 in. to 2 ft. Among the best are ‘Campfire’, deep orange; `Chrysantha’, canary-yellow; ‘Indian Maid’, light orange, dark centre; ‘Lemon Queen’; ‘Orange King’; ‘Radio’, bright orange quilled petals, and ‘Golden Beam’.

CALLISTEPHUS. Better known to us as the China Aster. There are very many types available, all requiring the half-hardy treatment for raising the plants. A temperature of about 60-65° F. is about right. It is important to avoid crowded conditions and a continuous close atmosphere, for these seem to encourage ‘damping off’, a disease which can prove most destructive. The use of a good clean compost and application of a solution of Cheshunt Compound (I oz. to 2 gal. Of water) instead of clear water when necessary, will normally prevent the trouble. Another fungus disease which sometimes attacks asters where they have been grown on the same site for a number of years, is Fusarium Wilt, of which the spores can persist in the soil for some years. When affected, the young plants rot off just below soil level, leading to wilting and collapse: there are now some wilt resistant strains available, while a fresh position and the use of Cheshunt Compound are other worth-while precautions.

The majority of varieties flower from the end of July until the frosts come, and all transplant easily. Only a very small number can be mentioned here, but the catalogue of any leading seedsman will give details of a wider selection.

Both the Comet and Ostrich-feather types have attractive, loosely curled petals. The Early Wonder strain is notable for its earliness, sometimes showing colour by the middle of July.

The real Ostrich-feather or Plume Asters are excellent for cutting, the 2-ft-high branching stems carrying large flowers in various colours. The frilled petals of the Giant Comet ;;Drts appear on 2-24 ft stems.

The later flowering Giants of California grow to the same height, the broad-petalled flowers being at least 4 in. in diameter. Of the so-called Branching type, ‘Queen of the Market’ is very early. The flowers on 18-in. Stems are excellent for cutting.

Aster unicum has large flowers with narrow, quilled petals. The Victoria strain grows 15— 8 in. high and is of an upright habit. Both the Remo and Waldersee strains are of recent introduction, an advantage being that the entire plants may be lifted when in bloom, and placed in a pot or bowl and brought into the living-room, where they will last a long time. This also applies to the so-called Lilliput or Button varieties.

CENTAUREA is the proper name of the plants we best know as Cornflowers and Sweet Sultan. Cornflower, C. cyanus, is almost too well known to need description. They may be raised from seed sown in September for producing flowers in March and April, or sown in the spring they will flower from June onwards. They are best sown where they are to flower, although if carefully done the seedlings can be transplanted. Apart from the tall-growing varieties, of which the double flowers are either blue, mauve, rose or white, all about 3 ft high, there are various kinds growing a foot high which are quite suitable for cutting. These include ‘Jubilee Gem’, blue; ‘Lilac Lady’ and ‘Rose Gem’, carmine-rose.

C. moschata is the Sweet Sultan which, if cut when young, will last at least a week. The sweetly-scented, fluffy, thistle-like heads grow on stems 18 in. high, although there is a taller strain having very large flowers. The colours are in shades of purple, mauve, yellow and white.

CHRYSANTHEMUM. The annual species and varieties are very gay, the flowers being freely produced.

CLARKIA. This is another favourite annual which is of easy culture. It thrives in the sun and, while preferring a light soil, will grow well in heavier ground. It will not transplant well, so seed should be sown thinly. Apart from their value as plants for the garden and for cutting for house decoration, clarkias grow well in pots, and if sown in the autumn they will flower in the cool greenhouse in the early spring. Growing 18-24 in. high, they are available in named sorts, among the best being the following varieties of C. elegans: ‘Albatross’, white; ‘Chieftain’, mauve; ‘Enchantress’, salmon-pink; ‘Lady Satin Rose’, rosy-carmine; ‘Orange King’, orange-scarlet; ‘Salmon Bouquet’ and ‘Vesuvius’, reddish-orange.

COREOPSIS. Apart from the well-known perennial coreopsis, there are some excellent annual varieties which are sometimes catalogued as Calliopsis. Seed can be sown directly into flowering quarters, or plants may be raised under glass. They transplant well and flower from July onwards, varying in height from 9 or to in. to 24 ft.

C. drummondi ‘GOLDEN CROWN’ is yellow with a dark central blotch, while there are many good varieties of C. tinctoria, including: ‘Crimson King’, dwarf; ‘Dazzler’, maroon-crimson with yellow edge to petals; ‘Fire King’, scarlet; ‘Golden Sovereign’, gold-yellow, and the ‘Garnet’, crimson-scarlet.

COSMOS or Cosmea. Natives of Mexico, these plants are of value both for the flowers and feathery foliage. The usual plan is to sow seeds under glass in March, pricking off the seedlings in the normal way, and to plant them outdoors in light soil during April or May. Of recent years it has become a fairly common practice to sow seeds directly into the open ground from mid-April onwards. The tall-growing species C. bipinnatus grows up to 4 ft high, having pink, crimson or white flowers. A form known as `Sensation’ is reliable and is available in shades of pink, some with a crimson centre, and some with white. There is also a crested-centred form, and several varieties with a yellow or orange shading.

CYNOGLOSSUM resembles a very large forget-me-not, and although really a biennial is often treated as an annual, sowing the seed under glass in March and planting outdoors later. C. amabile has turquoise-blue flowers, while `Blue Bird’ and ‘Firmament’ have deep blue flowers on 1F-2 ft stems, from July to October.

DAHLIA. Although, of course, a tuberous-rooted perennial, a very fascinating as well as economical way of obtaining a stock of certain dahlias is to raise them from seed. Anyone who can grow asters, stocks or marigolds from seed, can succeed with dahlias, for they are, if anything, even easier to grow by exactly the same method.

Sow in gentle heat in February or March, or in boxes or pots in a cold frame in late April or early May. Pot them off singly when large enough and move to the open ground in early June. If no greenhouse or cold frame is available, try sowing in boxes or pots in a sunny window.

The plants will bloom from 3 to 3i months from time of sowing and give a wonderful show of colour from late summer until cut by frost. Not only do the seedlings bloom as early as plants raised from cuttings, but often they flower more freely, grow more vigorously and the plants themselves are of better shape.

Whether dahlias are required for cutting or bedding, growing them from seed will produce results out of all proportion to the time and care given to them.

Dwarf Bedding, Miniature Paeony-Flowered and the Coltness Gem strain are all suitable for raising from seed in this way.

DIANTHUS. This is the family name of carnations, pinks and sweet williams. Although the annual carnation cannot be compared with the border varieties for shape and often size, there are many good modern strains which are easy to grow and have flowers which are first class for cutting. All like the sun and a fairly rich, well-drained soil.

Many of the best varieties have come from Southern France. The true giant Chabaud strain produces fully double, fragrant flowers.

There are named varieties in practically every colour tone, excepting blue, and the blooms appear on 15-18-in. Stems from July onwards. They may also be grown in pots. The Marguerite strain is available in fine mixed colours, while the Enfant de Nice varieties, growing 18 in. or more, are remarkable for their vigour and stout stems. The grey-green foliage makes them extra useful for indoor decoration. The colour range is wide and, bycareful disbudding, really large blooms can be had. The Camellia-flowered carnations are becoming very popular. Growing 18 in. or so high, they bloom 6 months after sowing. They are of good shape, the calyx is tighter than the other types, while the colour range is good.

D. chinensis, sometimes known as the Chinese or Indian Pink, although smaller, is used for cutting. There are single and double forms. The heddewigii varieties, too, are good. Growing only 9 or so in. high, the red, pink or white flowers are prettily fringed. All can be sown in boxes under glass, or in favourable districts directly into open ground in May.

DIMORPHOTHEC.A. The African Daisy or Star of the Veldt. These gaily-coloured daisy-like flowers are superb for using alone or with other flowers. Like the arctotis, they need a really sunny place to do well and light ground, slightly on the dry side. In dull weather the flowers remain partially closed, as they do at night. Seed can be sown under glass early in April, but best results come by sowing in May where the plants are to bloom. They usually show colour within 2 months after sowing, and vary in height from 12 to 18 in.

The D. aurantiaca hybrids take in such colours as apricot, buff, biscuit, yellow, lemon, orange and white, some having a dark centre.

EMILIA. Better known as Cacalia or Tassel Flower, this charming subject is not usually. Reckoned among cut flowers. For miniature arrangements and posies it is ideal. Its clustered flowered heads of bright scarlet which are freely produced from June to October, are carried on stems of a foot or more. Sow in ordinary sandy soil, preferably on the dry side.

ESCHSCHOLTZIA. While often used in bunches of mixed flowers, this loses its petals too quickly to be of great value for cutting. In a sunny situation and a rather light, dry soil the plants will flower very freely from June onwards. The finely divided, grey-green foliage is of use with the flowers, which are available in very many colour tones, including cream, yellow, orange, rose, carmine, crimson-scarlet and golden bronze.

GAILLAEDIA. The annual varieties can either be sown under glass and transplanted later, or directly into their flowering quarters. They bloom from July onwards and grow 15-18 in. high. There are a number of good varieties of G. pukhella, including: picta, crimson, tipped yellow; G. lorentiana, double mixed with globular flower-heads, and ‘Indian Chief’, bronze-red. There are also some single forms.

GAURA LINDHEIMERI, while not striking, is useful for cutting. Its long, graceful sprays of white flowers appear from July to October, and it grows 3 ft or so in height, thriving in any good garden position.

GODETIA. Another popular annual of easy culture. It is handsome when growing in the garden and when cut, and thrives in any ordinary, well-drained soil. Thin out the seedlings early to encourage good, bushy plants.

Seeds are best sown where they are to flower during March or April, although they may also be sown in September. There are both dwarf and tall strains, the former (9-12 in. high) looking well when grown in pots. Well-grown plants of the tall type will reach 21-3 ft. The colour range is very wide.

GYPSOPHILA ELEGANS is a much-used annual, of which seed may be sown in the open, either in September or in succession during the spring. Almost any soil is suitable, although chalky ground is particularly good.

The upright, branching plants grow i8 in. high, and in the case of the Covent Garden strain the flowers are fairly large and pure white. There are forms with rose or crimson flowers, and all varieties are suitable for using in ‘mixed’ bunches or arrangements.

HELIANTHUS. There are a number of forms of the annual sunflower which are excellent for indoor use. All grow in good garden soil and may be sown in the spring, where they are to flower. Some of the best are in shades of yellow, purplish-red, orange with dark centres and red tipped yellow. All flower from July onwards.

LARKSPUR. This is the annual form of the delphinium, and is invaluable for cutting purposes. There are two main types: the so-called Rocket varieties, which vary in height from I to 3 ft, and the branching types, often known as Giant Imperial and Stock-flowered. These are especially good for autumn sowing, and will grow from 4 to 5 ft high, making splendid border plants. Seeds sown in September, in good, well-drained soil in an unexposed position, will result in sturdy plants flowering from the middle of May onwards, while a further sowing in March or April will produce long-stemmed blooms from July until September. Sow the seed -I in. deep, either in irregular patches or in rows. Among the best-named varieties are ‘Blue Gown’, light blue; ‘Blue Spire’, Oxford blue; ‘White Spire’, and ‘Rosamond’, a lovely salmon-rose, which does not fade with age.

LATHYRUS. See Sweet Pea.

LAVATERA TRIMESTRIS. Very useful and showy both in the garden and when cut. Seed should be sown in the early spring, where they are to bloom. Space the plants well and they will develop into bushy specimens, the 2-3-ft stems carrying many semi-trumpet-shaped flowers. L. splendens is pink, and there is both a rose and a white form. The variety ‘Loveliness’ or ‘Sunset’, with its rose-pink blooms, is most outstanding.

LEPTOSYNE STILLMANNI is a hardy annual which can be sown where it is to bloom, during April and May. The lemon-yellow, daisy-like flowers are attractive, as is the double form, Golden Rosette.

LINARIA. Rather like miniature antirrhinums, the linarias or toadflax are continuous-flowering plants. Easy to grow, they prefer a sunny position and a fairly light soil. Sow the seed in March or April where the plants are to bloom, and the flowers will appear in quick succession from early June until October. Valuable for the smaller arrangements and posies, there are a number of excellent species. L. cymbalaria is known as the Kenilworth Ivy, and produces attractive trailing g-owths which can be used to advantage in many types of floral creations; the flowers are lilac, rose or white, most having a yellow throat mark. L. maroccana is violet-purple marked with yellow, producing its pretty little flowers in many colours on spikes of 10 – 15 in. The Fairy Bouquet Mixture grows only 9 in. high, while there are several separately coloured named varieties.

Urrum is another easy to grow plant, which can be sown in succession. While the ordinary pale blue variety has its uses, it is the scarlet flax L. grandifiarum rubrum which is useful to flower arrangers. Growing 12-18 in. high, the erect branching sterns bear a profusion of blooms throughout the summer and early autumn.

LUPINS. While they cannot compare with their perennial relatives, there are several annual species and varieties which are worth growing for cutting. The stems must be plunged in war as soon as cut to stop them flagging. Most will flourish in quite poor soil, seed being sown where the plants are to bloom. According to variety they grow 1 ft high, and there are many shades of blue, pink, white and reddish tones including bicolors.

MALOPE is yet another hardy annual of easy culture, flowering freely and continuously from July to October. Given ordinary soil and a sunny situation, these plants look well either in groups on their own or in a mixed border. M. grandiflora has rose-red flowers, while there are pink and white forms, all growing 2-3 ft high.

MARIGOLD. Another half-hardy plant of simple culture which may also be grown in the same way as asters. There are nowadays several strains containing colours ranging from red, orange to yellow, which grow more than 3 ft high and produce really large, round flowers. No doubt the size and weight of the heads is a cause of their sometimes seeming to have weak stalks, although the best modern varieties have quite tough stems, strong enough to support the flowers.

Recently some varieties with non-scented foliage have been introduced, and if these prove to be reliable the African and dwarf French varieties, too, will undoubtedly be much more used for cutting.

MATRICARIA. A number of interesting plants belong to this family, some being better known as chrysanthemum species. M. capensis is really a perennial, but is worth growing as an annual by sowing seed in March under glass and putting the plants outdoors in May. It forms a bushy plant of a ft in height, has heads of white flowers, the double form listing better than the single. The foliage is ‘chrysanthemum scented’. M. inodora has from June to October single white flowers on 12-15 in. stems, and is useful for all floral work. It can be sown in April in its flowering position.

MIGNONETTE. Much valued because of its fragrance, this is not a difficult plant to grow. It seems to prefer a soil in which there is lime and a well-prepared, firm site. It can be sown outdoors from April onwards, or under glass. A sowing made in September in pots will provide early spring-flowering plants. Early thinning out is advisable, for stocky, bushy plants will produce most blooms. The proper name of this subject is Reseda odorata, and there are a number of varieties growing a foot or more in height. They include: ‘Bismarck’, large spikes of bright red; `Gotclen Goliath’, yellow; `Machet Improved’, red, and ‘Red Monarch’, bright red.

MOLUCELLA. Often known as Bells of Ireland and the Shell Flower, this plant is best sown under glass in March or early April and planted outdoors towards the end of May. It is sometimes slow to germinate, and some growers have found it of advantage to sow the seed early in the year in a just-moist, sandy compost and then to cover the pots or boxes with glass and stand outdoors in a sheltered place. If subsequently they are brought into a greenhouse temperature of 65° F. the seeds germinate well.

M. laevis produces spikes of large, pale green calyces which make it attractive as a foil for other flowers. They last several weeks in water and may be dried and used in autumn designs.

NASTURTIUM. Although often regarded as common, the nasturtium is most useful for indoor decoration. The colour range is exceedingly wide, and both the shape and size of the leaves enable them to fit in to all sorts of designs. They are of the easiest culture; all that is necessary is to cover the seed with a in. or so of soil, and germination will occur in a short while. They do well in poor and even dry soil, and will often go on blooming until the early winter.

The newer dwarf double mixed strain is remarkable for its colour range, many of the flowers being scented. ‘Empress of India’ has very dark foliage and crimson-red flowers, while `Ryburg Perfection’ has variegated leaves. The long trails of the climbing nasturtium have many uses. When growing, the growths must be restricted, so that the plants do not exceed their allotted space. Used alone or with other subjects, here is a flower which is of the utmost value.

NEMESIA. Chiefly used as an edging plant, N. strumosa suttonii will, however, usually grow 12-15 in. high, making it an excellent cut flower. Although often grown as a mixture, there are separate colours available, including shades of blue, pink, red and orange. Sow under glass in early spring and move to the open ground in May.

NEMOPHILA INSIGNIS, only 6-8 in. high, is charming in miniature decorations and posies. The clear sky-blue flowers have white centres. It should be sown where it is to bloom either in the spring or September, and according to when it is sown flowers are available from May onwards.

NIGELLA. Better known as Love-in-a-mist, this is another plant of the easiest culture. Sow where it is to bloom either in the spring or in September. The flowers on 12-18-in stems, often higher, are surrounded by light green, feathery foliage.

The best-known variety of N. damascena is ‘Miss Jekyll’, cornflower blue, and there are also dark-blue and white forms. The seed pods dry well and can be used for winter decoration.

PHLOX DRUMMONDII are really rather too straggly for use as a cut flower, but they have a limited value where slender stems are required in a more or less drooping or hanging position. Seed is sown under glass in spring, the plants being put in the open in early May. There are many bright colours, some with blotched petals.

RUDBECKIA. Another annual which is easy to grow and valuable for cutting from the end of July onwards. The species bicolor has yellow petals with a dark central cone, but it is its varieties which are particularly showy. These include: ‘Kelvedon Star’, 18-24 in. high, the golden-yellow petals having a mahogany zone at the base as well as a brown cone centre; R. hirta is often known as Black-Eyed Susan and the hybrids take in many shades of yellow, orange and bronze-red; the variety ‘My Joy’ is one of the finest. Sow in early spring under glass and transplant in April or May to flowering position.

SALPIGLOSSIS is a half-hardy annual raised in warmth in the early spring. It will grow and flower well outdoors in well-drained soil and unexposed positions. It grows from i4-2-4 ft high and produces from July to September funnel-shaped flowers in bright colours, including crimson, scarlet, yellow and blue with prominent richly coloured veins. Together with bone meal and wood ash, but do not bring the manure closer to the surface than 9 in.

SAPONARIA. Used for mixing with cut flowers in the same way as the annual gypsophila, Saponaria vaccaria is of the simplest culture. Sown in open ground in the early spring or in September, it will produce its sprays of flowers from April onwards, according to when sown. The variety rosea has large, pink flowers, but the best one is ‘Pink Beauty’, growing 2-3 ft high. It is wise to choose a fresh plot each year, but if this cannot be done, then make the trenches in a different position and give a top dressing of lime or soot. This treatment will check pests, help to break up the surface soil and assist the young plants to get a good start.

SCABIOUS. The Sweet Scabious is often called the Pin Cushion Flower, which gives an idea of the appearance of the blooms. There is a tremendously wide colour range, including blue, crimson, coral-pink, rosy-crimson, yellow and maroon-black, all having wide petals with a pin-cushion-like centre, and they are varieties of S. atropurpurea. They like a sunny, well-drained position and grow 2-4 ft high with firm, straight stems. Early sowing should be made under glass, and these can be succeeded by outdoor sowings from mid-May. Varieties producing black or slaty-black-coloured seeds are slow or difficult to germinate, and for this reason chipping is often advised. This is done by chipping a little piece off the outer skin with a sharp knife, on the opposite side to the eye. Certain varieties produce white or mottled seeds, which are ‘soft’. These have a tendency to rot easily, and should therefore be sown in a moist, sandy compost, and the box covered with paper until the seedlings peep through the soil.

SENECIO. A large, varied family, among which is S. ekgans, usually offered in catalogues as Jacobea elegans. Often treated as half-hardy annuals, they can be sown where they are to flower outdoors, in April, in ordinary soil and a sunny position. Usually available in mixtures, the colours include crimson, mauve, purple, rose and white, the double flowers looking like little pompoms on I 8-24-in. Stems. Very long lasting. Sowing may also be done in March direct into prepared sites, although the plants will not flower as early as those which were pot or box raised. Pot-grown plants are put into their permanent positions from the end of March, according to the season. For general decoration, space from 2 to din. Apart, but when growing as cordons for exhibition purposes, allow 6-8 in. between the plants. Between the rows 5-6 ft will give, room for proper development and good cultivation.

SWEET PEA. Sweet Pea are among the most desirable of all flowers for indoor decoration, having a lightness, grace and beauty to be found in few other subjects. When 2-in, high, all seedlings should be given small twigs as supports. Later bushy hazel sticks should be inserted into the ground at an angle of 45°. Good results are also obtained with the use of various types of netting.

For very early blooming, October sowing is advisable and can be done in pots or boxes of good, sweet soil to which is added a little silver sand, but no fertiliser of any kind. Early July is soon enough to commence feeding, otherwise coarse growth with flowers of poor substance will be produced. A good liquid manure is best. If the soil is very dry, water it first, so that none of the value of the manure is lost.

Where sowing cannot be done in the autumn, early plants may still be secured by sowing in January or February in a temperature around 50-60° F. As soon as germination takes place, the temperature should be lowered. The pots or boxes should be removed to the cold frame as soon as weather conditions are reasonable, the plants being put out into well-prepared positions in April. It is important to keep all blooms cut before they have time to form pods, otherwise the flowering period will be curtailed.

Soil preparation for flowering positions is important, and wherever possible the ground should be trenched to about 2 ft. Break up the bottom soil of the trench and mix in plenty of good animal manure, The Sweet Pea is a remarkably healthy plant if grown under clean conditions. Occasionally the trouble known as bud-dropping occurs. This is not a disease, but is brought about by some kind of check, such as cold nights after hot days, or excessive wet after drought. It is usually a temporary occurrence which rights itself after a few days.

New varieties of Sweet Peas are introduced annually, including many newer art shades. There are also various attractive striped varieties with veins and picotee edgings which look well when arranged by themselves, or in conjunction with other colours. At the present time the following are among the very best of the large flowering kinds:

Cerise and Scarlet: ‘Welcome’, ‘Scarlet Excelsior’, ‘Vanity’, ‘Margaret O’Brien’.

Carmine-Rose: ‘Carlotta’.

Crimson: ‘Red Velvet’, ‘Crimson Excelsior’, ‘Mahogany’.

Blue shades: ‘Stylish’, ‘Mabel

Gower’, ‘Calcot’, ‘Freedom’. Lavender : ‘Gertrude Tingay,’ ‘Mrs. Butchart’, ‘Mrs. Kay’. Mauve: ‘Elizabeth Taylor’, ‘Royal Mauve’.

Purple: ‘Purple Velvet’, ‘Pang-bourne’.

Maroon: ‘Black Diamond’, ‘Warrior’.

STOCKS. Provided the right varieties are selected, these are excellent flowers for decorative work. While sometimes used, the Ten-week strains have a tendency to wilt if not plunged in water at once, especially if cut under dry conditions. The recently introduced Hansen strain is proving particularly good as a cut flower. It is possible to concentrate on plants producing double flowers, since these can be selected in the seedling stage by the colour of the foliage. The stems are strong, they will travel well, and are really fully double. They may be grown in exactly the same way as recommended for asters and set in their flowering positions in May. Stocks like a well-prepared site with humus material worked into the soil well before planting time, while a dusting of hoof and horn manure will prove of great benefit. Cut the blooms before they are fully developed, and strip off the lower leaves before arranging the stems, which will otherwise become very messy and may spoil the blooms. The colour range is wide, taking in pink, lavender, mauve, red, yellow and white.

SWEET SULTAN. See Centaurea.

TITHONIA. Although strictly speaking a perennial, treated as a half-hardy annual this is splendid for cutting. Sow under glass and transfer out of doors at the end of May. The best variety is T. rotundifiVia ‘Torch’, which, if grown in the full ‘sun and a light sandy soil, will produce on 3-ft stems attractive orange-scarlet single flowers, which appear from mid-July until the frosts come.

TRACHELIUM COERULEUM is another half-hardy perennial which responds to annual treatment. Sow the seeds in heat in the early part of the year and either grow them on as pot plants or put them outdoors in a warm, sunny place. On 2-ft branching stems, clustered flower-heads of lavender-blue develop during the summer months.

TRIPTERIS is a fairly uncommon annual, although it is now officially grouped as Osteospermum. It may be sown under glass in March or in the open during April and May. A sunny place should be chosen for the plants and an ordinary, good, well-drained soil. In dull weather and in the evening the flowers partially close which is a drawback. T. hyoseroides has large, orange-yellow flowers on 2. ft stems.

VENIDIUM. The Namaqualand Daisy. Best treated as a half-hardy annual and sown in heat, although it is possible to sow seed in open ground from late April onwards. Germination is sometimes slow. V. fastuosum produces flowers from early June onwards, often 4 in. or more in diameter. The colour is brilliant orange with a purplish zone in the centre. The hybrids take in many beautiful colours, most of the flowers having a dark central blotch.

ZINNIAS. Many strains have been introduced during recent years, all requiring similar treatment. The seed is sown in early March in a temperature of 60°. The seedlings are pricked out 2 in. apart when big enough to handle, or better still put straight into small pots. They are kept in the greenhouse until early May, when they are hardened off ready for planting outdoors in early June. Allow at least 15 in. between the plants. If as they develop frequent feeds of liquid manure are given, the size of the blooms will be improved.

Strictly speaking, an annual completes its life-cycle within the period of 12 months; often it is a very much shorter time. A biennial is a plant which is raised from seed for flowering the following season, after which it dies. Many perennials are treated as biennials, the chief reason being that they do not stand a second winter well, and while they may not be killed, they seem unable to recover properly. This applies to such popular plants as antirrhinums, sweet williams and wallflowers.

The following plants are biennials or are treated as such and raised from seed sown in the open ground, although it is possible, but not necessary or even recommended, to sow them in boxes or pots.

CANTERBURY BELLS are valued members of the Campanula family and are fine for bedding or for using in the border or shrubbery. They grow about 3 ft high. Seed is sown in June, covering it with the lightest layer of soil. The colours are pink, blue, mauve or white. The cup-and-saucer varieties are just as easy to grow as the single and double forms.

White: ‘Gigantic’, ‘Swan Lake’. Cream: ‘Cream Frills’, ‘Cream Elegance’.

Cream with picotee edge: ‘Reconnaissance’.

White with picotee edge: ‘Rosy Frills’.

Flush on white or cream ground: ‘Bridesmaid’, ‘Lady Grace’, ‘Loyalty’.

Pink shades: ‘Challenge’, ‘Piccadilly’, ‘Mrs Bolton’, ‘Monty’, ‘Geranium Pink’.

Salmon and Orange tones: ‘Princess Elizabeth’, ‘Cynthia Davis’.

CHEIRANTHUS Aworm is the Siberian Wallflower, and though a perennial it responds well to biennial treatment. It makes a really showy display either when grown alone or used with other plants. C. allionii is the most widely grown, but the variety ‘Orange Bedder’ and the less common C. linfolius, mauve, are also attractive. Plants are to give of their best. The plants like atmospheric moisture which can be provided by giving in the summer frequent overhead sprayings of water, particularly in the evening. This water, which settles on the leaves, well channelled to catch the moisture, is absorbed and used through the foliage.

CYNOGLOSSUM AMABILE is of value because of the pleasing mid-blue colour of its flowers. Although sometimes a little slow in germinating, this is easy to grow, and provides blooms which fit in with both a formal and informal arrangement. Final transplanting should be done during October, before the tap roots have become too long, although the plants will also move successfully immediately the flowering period is over, or even while the blooms are developing.

LUNARIA or Honesty, is a biennial of which the seed is sown in drills a foot apart during early July. It likes a soil rich in humus matter, so that leaf mould, peat and good compost are all useful and will provide the cool root conditions needed for best results. The seedlings are moved to their final quarters in September or early October. Plenty of humus material should be incorporated into the soil, and the plants put in from 7-9 in. apart.

It is possible to use the blooms of L. biennis, ‘Munstead Purple’, but the plant is chiefly grown for the showy, silvery seed-pods, which remain decorative through the winter. As the seed-pods ripen, the outside falls away, exposing the central silver disc which lasts in good condition. Occasional light hoeing between the plants is all the attention needed, although slug-bait must be put down should the plants be attacked by these pests. Birds will often damage the blooms of polyanthus, and the old-fashioned method of running strands of black cotton over the plants is still quite effective.

MYOSOTIS, or Forget-me-not, has many uses for, apart from its great value as a bedding plant with tulips and other bulbs, it may be used in the front of the border, on the rock garden and as a pot plant. Thin sowing is advisable, and the seedlings should be given plenty of room, for crowded conditions lead to poor, weak, growth and encourage mildew. Among the best varieties are ‘Express’ and ‘Royal Blue’, while the compact-growing ‘Victoria’ is a lighter blue. It is advisable to remove any flowers before they have time to set seed, otherwise a lot of unprofitable seedlings will appear. If covered with any kind of glass structure from November onwards, blooms can be secured well in advance of the normal flowering period.

PANSIES are also frequently treated as biennials, and there are now many fine strains having flowers which are first class for cutting. Seed is sown in May or June either in trays or in the open ground. The former method is often preferred, since it enables steam sterilised soil to be used, a great advantage where damping off disease has been troublesome.

STOCKS. These, in their various forms, continue to exercise charm over gardeners and flower-lovers as they have done for many years. The Bromptons are sown in June or early July for flowering the following spring and summer. After being thinned out, the seedlings are moved in October to their flowering positions or, if the soil is heavy and in cold districts, they can be kept in pots under the frame or clothes until the end of March.

Among the best strains are ‘Engelmann’s Giant’, ‘Swiss Giant’, `Trimardeau Giant’ and ‘Read’s New Century Scented’, the perfume of the latter making them especiallSr attractive. The newer ‘Felix’ strains have marks or ‘whiskers’ so placed as to resemble a cat’s face. The East Lothian or Intermediate stocks grow about i5 in. high and are really half-hardy biennials. They can, if desired, be treated as annuals and sown in heat early in the year to produce plants to flower the same summer, but the most satisfactory way is to sow from May onwards, using boxes or pans, the seedlings being planted out in October into unheated frames, either direct into the soil or in boxes, where they can remain until the following spring, when the plants are transplanted to their flowering quarters. They are available in many colours, including red, pink, mauve, purple, white, all ideal for cutting.

POLYANTHUS. Here again is a perennial which can be, and often is, treated as a biennial. If a small amount of seed is sown annually, it will ensure a regular supply of long-stemmed flowers which are so useful indoors. A soil containing plenty of humus material is essential if the

VIOLAS, too, can be treated as biennials, and the flowers they produce have many uses. For miniature arrangements and posies they are ideal. Although the smaller-flowering species and the violettas can be included with advantage, and of these ‘jackanapes’, with yellow and maroon flowers, ‘Bosniaca’, pink, lute; yellow, and nigra, almost black, are good, it is the large-flowered sorts which are the most showy. These include the popular ‘Maggie Mott’, mauve; ‘Mrs Morrison’,

bronzy-pink, and ‘Pickering Blue’, pale blue. All of these are increased by cuttings taken in September and rooted under a frame, being planted in the open the following April or May.

WALLFLOWERS are indispensable both in the garden and as cut flowers in the spring, for they provide a marvellous display of colour coupled with a fragrance equalled by few other subjects. If seed is sown in the late spring or summer, strong plants will be ready for putting into their flowering quarters in the autumn. Planted at the same time as bulbs such as tulips and daffodils, they will make a pleasing spring bedding display. For the earliest blooms sow the seeds thinly at the end of May or early June, and do not transplant. Better, bushier and freer-flowering plants will result, however, if the seedlings are moved in the autumn, for this promotes a larger fibrous-root system. Plants spaced 8 or 9 in. apart are best.

Among the good varieties are ‘Early Feltham’, brownish-red; ‘Blood Red’; ‘Golden Yellow’; ‘Fire King’; ‘Scarlet Emperor’ and ‘Eastern Queen’, which is chamois-apricot changing to rosy-pink. There is also a newer early-flowering strain in various colours and a novelty strain known as ‘Magic Carpet, which takes in shades of cream, apricot, orange, brown, rose and purple. The actual blooms are rather smaller than the other types, but they are very freely produced.

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