Annuals are those plants whose life cycle is completed within a single season. The seed germinates, the plants bloom, set seed and then die. Owing to their short life span, annuals allow you to experiment and express yourself anew each year.
Annuals should be planted so that they complement the plants around them, for example, mauve or orchid-coloured Petunias in front of a yellow-flowering potentilla shrub, low-growing white Alyssum interplanted with blue Forget-me-nots, or blue Ageratum and yellow Calendula surrounding red Salvia.
The bulk of annuals prefer sunny locations but the following list will help you choose plants for all areas of your garden
Annuals, often referred to as bedding plants, show themselves best when planted in groups rather than individually. Even when planting on a small scale, use a minimum of three plants and try to plant so that each group overlaps with the one beside it, creating a unified flow rather than isolated spots of colour.
In designing your garden, keep in mind that annuals offer a tremendous range of heights accommodating virtually any area in your yard. Here is a small but representative sampling of the possibilities:
How to Plant Annuals
One of your most important pruning tools costs nothing! It consists of your thumb and index fingers. Annuals and perennials or, for that matter, anything you can break off with your fingers will become more dense and bushier with new growth after pinching.
Birds & Butterflies
All trees and shrubs will provide something of value to birds: nesting sites, insect food, shelter from weather and predators.
Inviting Birds to Your Garden
There are, without doubt, birds in your garden now. If you wish to encourage more birds and more varieties of birds around your home, you can do so by providing a variety of trees and shrubs, particularly those that provide food in the form of fruit, berries, nuts or seeds.
Birds Love Cherries
If you grow Sweet Cherries, you know they have to be netted to prevent the birds from taking them. Mayday trees and Shubert’s Chokecherry have fruit we do not find palatable but is enjoyed by birds. Sour Cherries that we use for pies also make a nice ornamental small tree.
The brilliantly coloured berries of Mountain Ash are eagerly devoured by Robins, Cedar Waxwings and other birds. Many varieties and forms of Mountain Ash are available and they are highly ornamental trees. (The birds do not like the fruit of the variety ‘Leonard Springer’). If not eaten in the fall, they persist on the tree all winter. Their height above snow cover provides food when mid-winter sources are scarce and are also used in early spring by the first returning migrants.
Many trees have desirable fruit for birds, which we hardly notice, however the birds find with ease since the fruit is not highly coloured. Russian Olive is a good example and with its silver foliage and fragrant yellow flowers, it makes an excellent choice for gardeners.
Seed-eating birds such as Redpolls, Pine Siskins and Goldfinch find an abundance of seed on this attractive tree. It is particuarly valuable to those birds which stay with us all winter.
Maple and Oaks
If your garden is large enough for those tall trees, you will attract Orioles, Tanagers and the Red-eyed Vireo as they prefer the safety of the high upper canopy.
The dense foliage of Spruce, Pine, Fir, Larch and Hemlock provide secure nesting sites for many birds and an ample supply of seeds from their varied cones. Cedar Waxwings love the red fruit of the Yew in the early fall.
Shrubs that Attract Birds
Small fruit, such as Currants, Raspberries, Blackberries and Gooseberries will certainly attract birds. Blueberries will have to be netted as they are so desirable.
Among ornamental shrubs, there are many with choice fruit. The dark mature fruit of Elderberry is ravenously eaten by many songbirds, including Thrushes and Warblers.
All Viburnums except the double-flowered Snowball, have berry fruit. The fruit of the High Bush Cranberry is not usually taken by birds, but can be a life-saving source of food in severe winters. Nannyberry fruit is found more palatable and is a favourite of the Brown Thrasher.
Other shrubs with berries are: Oregon Grape Holly, Flowering Currant, Bush Honeysuckle, Rugosa Rose, Redleaf Rose, all Dogwoods, Serviceberry, Privet, Coralberry, Snowberry, and Autumn Olive. The fruit of the Cotoneaster and Firethorn are not usually taken by birds.
Weeds and Grasses
If you can provide a “wild” spot in your garden for tall Grasses, Thistles, Goldenrod and Ragweed, you will add greatly to your list of bird visitors: Horned Lark, Meadowlark, Butings, Bobolink and others.
In a cultivated garden, ornamental grasses can be used, leaving them to stand into the winter with their supply of seeds. So too, with many annual and perennial plants, which we normally remove or cut down in the fall; if left in place, they provide abundant seed for birds in winter. For example, Sunflowers, Cosmos, Zinnias and Asters.
A climbing vine with brilliant foliage in fall, Virginia Creeper’s bountiful harvest of shiny black berries is enjoyed by many birds, including Kingbirds, Flycatchers and Bluebirds.
Hummingbirds need eight times their weight in water everyday. If your property does not include a pond or stream, providing water in a birdbath or large saucer will bring birds to your garden and keep them coming back. Sugar-water dispensers designed to attract Hummingbirds are also available.
The larger the menu you offer, the more types of birds you will attract. Try bread crumbs, dried fruit, suet, cracked corn and Sunflower seeds.
Many birds will feed from an elevated tray, while some will feed only on the ground; for others, a seed encrusted ball of suet suspended from a tree is ideal.
Birds eat insects too
Enticing birds to your garden with desirable fruit and seeds will help greatly in controlling insect populations, as most birds prefer a varied diet. The importance of insect control by birds can hardly be over-rated. Robins may take “garden-friendly” earthworms, but also feasts on Ants, Beetles, Cankerworms, Caterpillars, Cutworms, Crickets, Flies (puppae and adults), Slugs, Snails, Sowbugs, Spiders, Termites, Wireworms, and Weevils. Wood Warblers are almost 100 per cent insect eaters.
In bringing birds to your garden, you add a new dimension of interest and will be rewarded by their colour, movement and song. The trees and shrubs will enhance your garden so you benefit again.
The preferred flower for the Hummingbird is red in colour and tubular in form. Hummingbirds prefer a massed bed as it has to visit about one thousand blooms per day to meet its requirement of sweet nectar. Next to red, hummingbirds prefer orange and pink but also visit other colours of flowers. Other summer flowers that attract are: Petunias, Phlox, Snapdragon, Cleome, Sweet William, Nicotiana and Zinnias.
Favourite perennials include Gladioli, Red Hot Poker, Monarda, Bleeding Heart, Columbine and Penstemon. Vining Honeysuckles like Dropmore Scarlet and Heckrot’s Goldflame have the correct shape and colouration. Also, Morning Glory, Trumpet Vine and Scarlet Runner Bean. Flowering shrubs include Weigela, Beauty Bush, Butterfly Bush, Coralberry, Flowering Currant and Flowering Quince.
Plants to Attract Hummingbirds
The plants listed below are among the Hummingbird’s favourites. While reds dominate the list, there are plenty of other colours suggest to allow a varied planting. The most important aspect of designing a Hummingbird garden is to plant for continuous bloom from spring to fall ensuring an endless supply of nectar.
Winter ChillingHardy fall bulbs such as Daffodil, Tulip, Hyacinth, Crocus and Snowdrop are spring flowering plants that must be planted in the fall.
They are mostly native to mountainous areas of Europe and the near east: Spain, Turkey and Afganistan. They actually need the dormant rest period of a long, cold winter. The melting snow and ice in early spring provide needed moisture as they start to grow and flower. Plant from September to December, even after the first frost if the ground can still be worked.
Bulbs can also be planted in individual holes. Dig a hole and sprinkle a tablespoon of a high phosphorous (middle number) fertilizer like Holland Bulb Booster in the bottom of the hole. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointed end up.
Cover the bulb with soil and water thoroughly. A 5 cm layer of mulch on top of the bed will help prevent winter weeds, retain moisture and insulate against severe winter cold and temperature fluctuations.
Preparing a Bed for Fall Planted Bulbs
Prepare the bed
The foliage must be allowed to remain to soak up sunshine and replenish the stored energy in the underground bulb. Only the flowering stems should be removed. In a few weeks, the foliage withers and dies down. This is a natural defense against the too hot summer sun in their original habitat.
Replanting your flower bed with summer annuals gives you the opportunity to use more bone meal which, with its high phosphorous content, is beneficial to both the new planting and the bulbs.
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