An interesting garden landscape is like a tossed salad. You might start with romaine lettuce as the base ingredient, and add mustard greens and leaf lettuce for more texture. Toss in some red cabbage, bright orange carrots, and sweet red pepper for a splash of color. Tie it all together, with a fresh vinaigrette made of oil, vinegar, and spices, and drizzle it on top.
Combine your garden flowers just like a tossed salad. Your base ingredients are hardscapes (structures such as sidewalks, walls, and trellises) and shrubs. Add more texture with some strong perennials. Throw in a splash of color with annuals, and tie it all together with fertilizer.
If you have a good start to your garden, you might only need to fill in a few bare spots, or highlight the green foliage with some bright colors. That's where annuals come into the picture.
Annuals are plants that grow, produce flowers, set seed, and die in one growing season. Usually they are less expensive than perennials, provide instant color, and can fill in a flower bed until the perennials have a chance to expand. Under ideal growing conditions, annuals will flourish all summer with a dazzling display of blossoms.
Annuals are classified in three categories: hardy, half hardy, and tender. Hardy annuals can live through some cold temperatures and can survive a bit of frost. They can be planted earliest in the growing season, around late April. University experts list these plants as hardy annuals: flowering cabbage, pansy, snapdragon, sweet alyssum, strawflower, calendula, and cornflower.
Half hardy annuals can shrug off long periods of cold, damp weather but will die if hit by frost. If you plant these too early, you will have to protect them if the temperatures drop below freezing. The best time to plant half hardy annuals is after the frost-free date in mid-May. These are half hardy annuals: ageratum, celosia, cosmos, dianthus, gazania, lobelia, marigold, nicotiana, petunia, salvia, and vinca.
Tender annuals are very sensitive. Their seeds will only germinate in warm soil and will flower best in warm air temperatures. They shouldn't be planted until late May or June. Some half hardy or tender perennials are also considered annuals in our area because they can't survive our winter. Here are some tender annuals: tuberous begonia, coleus, dusty miller, geranium, portulaca, verbena, and zinnia.
Most annuals grow best in sunny locations, a few varieties thrive in shade. Your local nursery can direct you to the plants that will grow best in your yard conditions.
The spring meeting of the Region I Ohio Association of Garden Clubs, which includes clubs in Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Paulding, Williams, and Wood counties, will take place beginning with a coffee hour at 8 a.m. tomorrow in the Delta Church of Christ, Madison and Providence streets, Delta, Ohio. James Speck, landscape architect for Toledo Area Metroparks, is among the featured speakers. The public is welcome. A fee will be charged. Information: 419-352-7397.