The in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion of an­nu­als

Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - - Contents - By GLENN CUR­TIS – THE QUE­BEC QUONNECTION

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!

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