The Beauty of the Flower Garden
Plants in all their color, form and variety is the appeal of a flower garden. You can be the artist as you choose from perennials, annuals, bulbs, vines and ornamental grasses.
Perennials: Unlike annuals, which tend to bloom their hearts out all season, most perennials bloom for about two to four weeks each season. To make up for that, perennials come back each season, and many are quite long-lived. There are many available that don't need staking or have to be divided frequently. To create a satisfying flower garden, choose perennials that bloom at different times. You want to aim to have something in bloom from early spring, through summer and into fall.
Annuals: True annuals go through their life cycle, growing, flowering, setting seed and dying, in one season. Some plants most of us consider annual are actually perennials in warmer climates - for example geraniums. (Pelargonium species.) Modern annuals such as impatiens are bred for constant color through the season, and they make great supporting players in the flower garden. Annuals that mix beautifully with perennials include spider flower (Cleome spinosa), cosmos, blue salvia, Brazilian verbena, sweet alyssum, marguerite daisies and nigella. These plants are also indispensable space fillers in the first seasons while you're waiting for the perennials to bulk up.
Biennials: Often sold in the perennial section, these plants grow leaves their first year, bloom in the second, and after that go to seed and die away like annuals. They will often self-seed in your flower garden. Why bother? Well, many of these plants are so stunning - foxgloves, verbascums, hollyhocks, for example - that you'll covet them.
Bulbs for spring and summer: These can be bulbs, corms or tubers - for most gardeners, the distinctions aren't terribly important. "Bulb" is the umbrella term for these plants, crocuses, tulips and daffodils are the familiar bulbs synonymous with spring - nothing tops them for early season color, and they are very easy to grow. There is also a class of summer bulbs - gladioli, dahlias, begonia, calla and canna lilies - which are perennial, but they won't survive outdoors in colder climates unless dug up and stored in a frost-free place. Climbing vines If you have trellises for them to grow over, vines are a great addition to your flower garden. A favorite perennial climber is the genus clematis, with many varieties boasting stunning flowers. Annual vines such as morning glory, sweet peas and hyacinth bean are easy to grow and will fill out your trellis until perennial vines get established.
Ornamental grasses: The airy appeal of grasses comes from their form and texture and their movement with the slightest breeze. Another plus is the all-season interest they provide: in summer they have great foliage, in the fall they flower and change color, and in the cold weather, their straw-coloured foliage provides lots of winter interest. Perennial varieties for sun and shade are available.
Enjoy the beauty of the varieties available to you at you nearest garden center.