Garden Clippings

| November 2005

Autumn is the perfect time to plan for next season's annuals

- CAPPER'S photo library

It might seem odd, but this is the time of year I begin preparing for next season's annual planting. Not for my plantings at home, which I like to experiment with and either have a terrific splash or a horrific flop from the choices, but the plantings that will go into the annual beds at the university where I work.

Even if I don't make the final decision on the layout of next year's beds at this time, I do make notes and review how the current season's plants have performed. It amazes me how I can forget that a certain variety of an annual can be an outright flop, and if I don't check my notes, I'll plant it again - because it looks nice at the garden center.

It's not that there are never planting flops at the university where I work, but they are minimized by the use of what I like to call 'landscape annuals.'

I use the phrase 'landscape annuals' because the plants I use need to have the characteristics of the other plants used in the landscape, other than that, these plants last only a season. Because of budget and manpower constraints, these annuals need to be able to have a number of characteristics I'm looking for.

A major selection criterion is that the plant must be relatively free of pests and diseases. Maintaining plants that need spraying for insects or disease can take a lot of time that could be better spent in other areas of your landscape.

Since annuals are planted for the color they add to the landscape, I look for plants that have a long season of bloom or that will perform well from spring into the first frosts of fall, if they're not to be replaced with fall annuals, such as mums or pansies.

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