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Annual Borders in ten steps

Annuals are simiply plants which which are sown, flower and die in one year. Hardy annuals are those which will tolerate frosts and are ideal to be sown outside at this time of year. A spring sowing differs from an autumn sowing in that it tends to produce a later flowering display.
 
Easily grown from seed, a vast choice of hardy annuals are available to offer long-lasting flowers from May to November (depending on what you have sown!) These fast-growing plants provide an easy and cost-effective way to give naturalistic planting, plug gaps and fill the border with a summer full of colour.
 
The best thing is, if your display doesn't quite work out or you don't like all the plants you have choosen you can change it for next year!
 

How to sow seed

1. Remove all weeds (if they are perienial weeds like nettles and danelions, make sure the roots are killed are removed.)

2. There is no need to add fertislisers or compost.  Annuals don't need either!

3. Rake the bed level aimimg for a surface of fine crumbs of soils.  As you rake the area walk up and down over it to firm the surface.

4. If you are sowing a large area with diffrent clumps of annuals, make each area out with some sand. If you are sowing a mix of seeds like an annual wildflower mix then there is no need to bother.

5. Sow the seed! Either by broadcasting (scattering the seeds over the area as evenly as possible) or by making drills (showing seed in to shallow straight grooves).  It doesn't matter which method you pick although broadcast sowing is easilier.  The main disadvantage of broadcasting is that you cannot easily tell weed seedlings apart from your sowings.  If you are sowing small areas which you will want to weed perhaps try drills.

6. Check seed packets to see if the seed needs covering.  If it does just give the area a gentle rake.

Afterwards

7. Keep down weeds with light hoeing or hand weeding.  If you have sown a large area with annual wildflowers for example, like we do at Ness, then don't worry about the weeding.  We never do!

8. You may need to water in dry weather, especially when seeds are germinating and seedlings are small.  Just check the soil first; take a teaspoon of soil from aabout 5cm below the soil surface. It is damp and you can make a compressed ball then you on't need to water.

9. You can deadhead to prolong flowering if you wish.  You don't have too, depending if you have the time or the inclination.  Needless to say we never deadhead our annual wildflowers!

10. Once everything has finihed flowering in the autumn, resist the urge to tidy up!  Seedheads and stems are valuable food and living spaces for a whole range of wildlife. Just cut everything down in spring and compost (as they are annuals you don't need to worry about the roots either!)

 

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