MAINLY ABOUT ANNUALS
I WELL remember the time when
the gardens of a Northern town in which I lived had hardly any varieties of annual flowers to show outside a very. narrow range. If you spoke of "marigolds," that meant just one kind of orange calendula. If you saw gardens growing annual chysanthemums or nasturtiums or whatever it was, the selection was obviously " So-andso's Mixture." And there were many easy annuals such as Californian poppy. viscaria, and godetia which were hardly grown at all. The same sort of remarks could be applied then to biennials and perennials, to some extent. even though the gardeners of that town were very keen indeed. (Their sweet peas and chrysanthemums left nothing to desired !) The only thing that limited their skill was the lack of knowledge that such splendid new varieties of annual and other flowers could be had for the asking across a seedsman's counter.
This tendency is not confined to the town I speak of. Many of our finest annuals (and some biennials and perennials of equal elegance) are still just names to many of us— and Latin names at that ! In larger market towns and in places where gardening enthusiasts have access to shows, they exploit in their own gardens the possibilities of plants which others have shown to be
exquisite. Purposeful-looking men ask firmly for the seeds of plants with outlandish names such as Dimorphotheca. Ursinia. Schizanthus, Sweet Wivelsfield, and so on. Many of these are only recently popularised species; but they have won a place in many an appreciative garden. Why not in yours 7 NEW VARIETIES
The odd names of the newer species should not daunt you. After all, we are inclined to forget that the old. old favourites such as lobelia, alyssum and geranium have also got foreign names. The species I have just mentioned are to be found listed in the catalogue of almost every seedsman, and may have added to them some other new species I recommend for a trial, namely : Layia, Cynoglossum and Venidium.
But even among the well-tried species there are new varieties and strains that should not be overlooked. To take but one example : The old white scented tobacco flower (Nicotiana affinis) deserved the place of esteem it held; but it had the disadvantage of opening its fragrant flowers only at dusk. looking drab
all day. The first novelty was the introduction of brightly coloured flowers in this species, and ROW WO
can have also brightly coloured flowers that stay open all day. This strain is called " Daylight Sensation "—an apt description. Petunias have always been great favourites for light soil. Some of the newer strains have wide-open bright flowers in scented profusion, and are splendid for bedding. Many overseas visitors were amazed at the Hampton Court display of this plant
last summer. It is easy to grow. Why not have some ?
TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Now is the time to think about sowing the hardier annuals and to make indoor preparation for the half-hardy kinds which will not be planted out for another month or so. Why not get hold of the catalogue of some enterprising seedsman and try just one or two of the less familiar things as well as your proved favourites ? Give them a fair trial, and make sure you purchase a carefully selected strain.
It is hard to make any comprehensive selection from so many good annuals and biennials; but if I am allowed to name good things at random I should recommend (in addition to those mentioned) the new type of Brompton stock called the " Harbinger " class, the " Indian carpet " type of semi-dwarf Sweet William, the " Loveliness" group of annual pinks, any really good strain of Lavatera. the Excelsior hybrids of the Foxglove. Then there arc already established favourites such as some of the "Ghost " type of Shirley Poppy (double), Brachycorne (Swan River Daisy) and many of the dwarf bedding types of dahlia. Dahlias. though perennials, bloom well the first year.
SOME PERENNIALS TOO
Seed of some carnations and pinks (particularly Allwoodii) is easy to grow, and gives us good perennials. We should not omit to mention Read's scented pansy, and Engelmann's giant pansy, which are short-lived perennials. Then many unsuspected plants are easy from seed, such as the anemones.
As this is the season of sowing,
be enterprising. As you fill your garden take special pains with just one or two extra things. They will probably need no more attention than your old favourites; but they will certainly be seen to better advantage if you give them the soil and situation they appreciate. If British gardeners had not been enterprising in the past, our gardens would not now be the envy of the world. Every spring we can enjoy in combination the ancient skill of Adam and the restlessness of the explorer.
E. J. KING.