H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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The Value of Annuals - Hardy and Half Hardy Annuals
Author: Charles Henry Curtis
The Value of Annuals Described.
The Value of Annuals - CHAPTER I
It may be stated that Annual Flowers are of immense value in the Garden, Greenhouse, or Conservatory without conveying anything like an adequate idea of the great importance of this large group of plants. Those who have visited the Horticultural exhibitions of recent years must have been struck by the increased number of classes provided for Annuals, and also by the splendid competitions these classes succeed in exciting. But even more striking are the advances our seedsmen and cultivators have made in developing and improving the flowers belonging to this group, not only in colour and freedom of flowering, but also in the habit of growth.
A perusal of the seedsmen's catalogues that garden lovers receive at the commencement of each year will prove the importance of Annuals, for it may be taken for granted that seedsmen would not list them so freely nor illustrate them so beautifully, if there was anything but a large demand for seeds.
The wide areas devoted entirely to the cultivation of Annuals for seed-production would surprise those who have not visited the great seed-growing districts of our own country, not to mention those of France, Germany and the United States, or who have not had opportunities of inspecting a seed warehouse at the busiest time of the seedsmen's year. The cultivation of Annual Flowers for seed purposes is a great and increasing business, and if it were possible tn obtain figures showing the capital invested, the area under cultivation, and the amount of labour employed, these informative details would be very interesting.
Ever since the publication of the first seed catalogue, the cleverest horticulturists have devoted their attention to the improvement of Annuals, and in modern times, with the whole world laid under tribute, and with rapid communication between all parts, the advance is systematic and striking. Selection and cross-fertilisation have improved some species well-nigh out of knowledge, whilst hybridisation has given us new races of great beauty. Sweet Peas alone afford a remarkable instance of what can be done by selection and cross-fertilisation even in a quarter of a century.
Patient work has not only given us Annuals very distinct from the type species, but it has secured a high percentage of fixity in the colour of the flowers and habit of growth. These qualities are great boons, as they enable the owner of a garden to produce the colour effects he or she desires, and to avoid colours that are undesirable for the scheme in view. It is usual to place great confidence in the seedsmen in these matters, and the trust is but rarely misplaced. We may choose tall, intermediate, or dwarf strains of many of the popular Hardy and Half-hardy Annuals, and be quite certain that when we plant out our seedlings it will not be the fault of the seedsman if, where we wished for a s^-ain suitable for either edging or carpeting a bed or border, .e have plants of tall or intermediate habit. The fault will be most likely due to our own carelessness.
A little consideration will show that the sphere of usefulness of Annuals is much wider than at first sight appears. So far as the Flower garden is concerned, and the term Flower garden is here used in its widest sense, their value is more recognised every year. The plants exhibit such different heights, habits, and colours that they afford ample scope for providing bold effects and permit the planting of whole borders or large beds. In some of the larger gardens I have seen Annuals used exclusively for decorating a special portion of the Flower garden, and with good effect. In other instances they are used in conjunction with Perennials to complete certain colour effects, and right well do they play their part, for whether it is a red, a blue, a yellow, a purple, or a white border that is desired, it can scarcely be produced over any considerable period without their aid.
The Herbaceous Border is a great feature in present-day gardening; of various sizes, it is found in practically every establishment. But in the maintenance of such a border the Annual flowers often play a by no means unimportant part. When the early flowers are over, especially those of bulbous plants, there are gaps not easily filled with anything save Annuals, therefore as fill-ups and stop-gaps they serve a very useful purpose.
To the fragrance of the garden they contribute their full share, and one has only to think of the sweetness of the Stocks, Mignonette, Candytuft, Sweet Peas, and Nycterinia to appreciate this fact.
Without the help of Annuals it would be a very difficult matter indeed to beautify a quite new and bare garden, supposing the garden to be one attached to a suburban villa that becomes ready for occupation at the end of March. Summer bedding plants could be used but they would prove costly, and, for the most part^ uninteresting, whereas Annuals can be purchased for a comparatively small sum, and they can be depended upon to give the finest colour displays obtainable.
Climbing Annuals are fairly plentiful, and the tall Tropaeolums, Ipomoeas, Sweet Peas, and others, with Giant Sunflowers and Mallows, will hide the fences, and form screens and backgrounds for the intermediate and dwarf subjects. In the foreground we may place such plants as Phlox Drummondii, Alyssum maritima, Brachyscome iberidifolia, Brachyscome iberidifolia, dwarf Tropaeolums of the Tom Thumb strain, dwarf Convolvuluses, Mignonette, Nemesias, Phacelia campanularia, Diascia Barberae, and others.
Not a few Hardy and Half-hardy Annuals are capital subjects for pot culture for the decoration of the Greenhouse or Conservatory, and a few that readily come to mind in this connection are the double Clarkias, Nemesias, the fine varieties of Chrysanthemum — these are grown extensively in pots for market sale, — Salpiglossis in many colours and exquisitely veined, Rhodanthe Manglesii, Mignonette, Phlox Drummondii, Linums, Kochia tricholor hila, Collinsia bicolor, and China Asters, though it is not often the Asters are grown in pots from seed sowing to flowering, the practice being to raise them in a little warmth, plant them out-of-doors, and then lift and pot them directly the flowers show their colour.
Annuals appeal irresistibly to many people because the flowers are exquisite for cutting. Flowers fill so large a place in the amenities of the household, that if suitable kinds can be grown in quantity, and cheaply, it is a great advantage. It must be said, however, that the usefulness of Annuals in this direction is not fully appreciated, and it is a fortunate circumstance that Mr. Felton, in his "British Floral Decorations," refers to this matter. He specially recommends Asters, Clarkia elegans Cosmos, Godetias, especially G. Schaminii fl. pi., Gypsophila elegans, Lavatera and Malope (used at home only), Nemesias, Nigella Miss Jekyll, Salpiglossis, Scabious, Stocks, the Stella group of Sunflowers, Sweet
The Value of Annuals
Sultans, Shirley Poppies, Sweet Peas, and Cornflowers. To these may be added, for home use, not for travelling, Alonsoa Warscewicsii^ various Tropaeolums, Coreopsis, Cacalia coccinea, Marigolds, Larkspurs, Annual Gaillardias, Candytuft, Linaria maroccana and Linums.
In view of the fact that rock-gardening is so popular it is well to bear in mind that some Annuals are very suitable for association with Alpine and other dwarf plants in the Rock Garden. Campanula drabaefolia, Mesenibryanthemum crystallvtunty M . pomeridanuni, and M. pyropaeum, Layia elegans, Giliaandi'osacea and G. rosea, Limnanthes Douglasii, Portulacas, lonopsidium. acaule, Grammanthes gentianoides, Eucharidiums, Dimorphotheca aurantiaca, and Brachycome ibiridifolia are but a few of those that may be usefully employed for filling bare spaces in the Rock Garden, or for cultivation on those parts where spring-flowering bulbous plants make an early display and then die down.
When we come to consider Climbing Annuals it is obvious that the fullest possible use is not made of the wealth of material at disposal. Every one knows how beautiful is Tropaeolum peregrinum, the ever popular Canary Creeper, which grows so quickly and covers a large space with its elegant, light green leafage and myriads of little, golden, bird-like blossoms. The climbing Tropaeolum viajus and the showy T. Lobbianum are also well known, and no one dare plead ignorance of Sweet Peas. But there are other climbing Annuals, and they include Thunbergia alata, Loasa aurantiaca — this has stinging leaves, and may be used with advantage at a spot where it becomes necessary to keep other people's "hands from picking and stealing"; the Japanese Hop [Mimulus japonicas), a particularly useful climber; the various Ipomoeas or climbing Convolvuluses; ornamental gourds in great variety, chiefly members of the Cucumis and Cucurbita families, though Trichosanthes anguina may, without any severe stretch of imagination, be regarded as a Half-hardy Annual; and Lathyrus grandiflorus, which bears large rose-coloured blooms, are all well worthy of cultivation. Of lesser value, but interesting and useful, are Aviphicarpaea vionoica, the violet-flowered Hog-pea Nut; and Grauiviatocarpus vohibilis, a Half-hardy Chilean species with yellow flowers.
Even within the range of Bog-loving and Aquatic plants there are a few Annuals of garden value, notably Malcoviia viaritiina, Samolus Vaierandii, Saxi/nigo Cymbalaria, Trapa natanSy T. verbanensis, and Valisncria spiralis.
The occupants of the Vegetable Garden do not come within the scope of the present work, but in concluding this brief tribute to the usefulness of Hardy and Half hardy Annuals it will not be out of place to remember the indebtedness of gardens to Peas, Dwarf Beans, Broad Beans, Lettuces, Spinach, Melons, Tomatoes, Mustard, Maize, and Vegetable Marrows, for food of the highest value, whilst the indebtedness would be further increased if Hardy Biennial plants were included.
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