The different types of plants for your garden

The smaller the garden, the more its overall impression is determined by so-called inert factors: paving, terraces, seats, pergolas. Nevertheless the atmosphere of a garden chiefly depends on the plants it contains. For the sake of clarity, suitable plants may be divided into a number of groups.

Annuals

Annual plants flower in the year they are sown. We can choose between (a) bedding plants brought into flower by the professional grower and marketed in spring, and (b) annuals grown by the amateur from a packet of seeds.

Biennials

Biennial plants are usually sown in early summer and will then flower in the following spring. Occasionally available as bedding plants (eg violas); usually you will have to sow them yourself.

Scilla sibirica

Above: Scilla sibirica, a beautiful bulbous plant, here combined with Primula juliae

Lavatera trimestris

Above: Lavatera trimestris (Sunset a true annual)

Aruncus dioicus, goat's beard

Above: Aruncus dioicus, goat’s beard, a very decorative perennial

Cytisus scoparius

Above: Cytisus scoparius or broom- a shrub

Perennials

These comprise herbaceous plants which die down in winter, but generally start into growth once more in spring. Heights vary between 3 and 300 cm. They are available from mail-order firms or garden centres.

Bulbs and tubers

These are divided into spring-flowering species (tulip, daffodil, crocus etc) and summer-flowering plants (dahlia, gladiolus etc). Many bulbs and tubers are perennials, but as a rule they must be lifted once a year. Species that can remain in the soil throughout the year are called ‘suitable for naturalisation’.

Shrubs and trees

Woody plants, growing on from where they leave off each year. We distinguish between trees (growing from a single trunk) and bushes (with several branches emerging from the soil). We further distinguish between evergreen and deciduous species. A final distinction may be made between foliage trees and conifers. All kinds of combinations are possible; we may, for instance, refer to a treeshaped, deciduous conifer (eg larch). The innumerable tree species may be classified according to the shape of their crowns; they may grow a single trunk naturally or be grafted; they may grow erect or droop (weeping forms).

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