THE QUEBEC QUONNECTION
The instant gratification of annuals
This very moment there are countless seedlings emerging inside hot and steamy greenhouses which are destined for your garden this summer! But, why annuals and which spaces should they occupy in our gardens?
What is an annual?
The words annual, perennial and biennial refer to the lifecycle of a plant. A true annual is a plant whose natural lifecycle spans one growing season. A biennial has a lifecycle that spans two growing seasons. On the other hand, a perennial is a plant that will live many years when planted in the right conditions.
The majority of annuals cultivated in Canada are native to warmer climates and they are officially classified as perennials; HOWEVER they cannot survive the onset of our great Canadian winter so we colloquially refer to them as annuals.
Why plant something with an expiration date?
As a “gardening newbie’,” there is often hesitation about planting something that will die at the end of each growing season. So why do it?
Here’s the thing that only experience could teach: a breathtaking garden doesn’t happen all of a sudden. It takes calculated steps. Without perfect layers of colour and foliage, your garden’s just not complete. Annuals are like the frosting on a proverbial perennial cake. Each ingredient is average on its own, but when brought together in the right amounts and order it’s a sensory delight well worth the effort.
Another concern is the recurring cost of purchasing new plants each year. If you can afford it, buying flats of annuals is great because they have an immediate visual effect, in other words: instant gratification. You really know what you’re getting because the root systems are well established and the plants are in bloom. Bam! Beautiful pops of colour here and there.
If budget is a concern and you don’t mind waiting a month or two for the plant to mature consider saving your seeds for next year. You’ll have to do your research though as some species are not easy to propagate via their seeds. You can also mix and match. Buy a few flats of annuals to fill the spaces in your garden that need it the most and then sow seeds in other areas.
Where to incorporate annuals in your garden?
Generally speaking, annuals are planted in border areas of garden beds and walk ways, in large stand-alone groups and to fill space between perennials. They also make for stunning arrangements in seasonal containers, hanging baskets and window boxes.
Annuals are produced for the specific purpose of putting on a fantastic show, and growers choose varieties that boast long lasting blooms, bright colours and eye-catching foliage. So plant these, sow your own, or do both. After all, enjoying your garden is all that really counts!