You want to know, perhaps, how small tapering evergreens would define certain garden formality, or would look in an irregular grouping. Experiment with the annual that is well named summer cypress (Kochia trichophylla). The color is light green, changing to a reddish tint in autumn, but with the needed form there the imagination can do the rest. Or you want to get the effect of low shrubs; use the bushy four-o'clock, which is a better annual (really a non-hardy perennial) than it is credited with being if any of the self-colored varieties is used by itself. Put to a practical test the color value of sheets of low bloom by planting the blood-red Drummond's phlox or the orange eschscholtzia, the value of irregular spikes with larkspur, of rayed blossoms with Brachycotne iberidifolia, of blossoms thrown up on long stems with sweet sultan, of scattered bloom with cosmos, of clouds of tiny blossoms with schizanthus and of pastel shades with scabiosa. Work out formal effects with such annuals as the China aster, candytuft, stock, godetia, alonsoa, tall and dwarf zinnia, chrysanthemum, lupine and French and African marigold—any that are not of sprawling growth. With a little study it will not be a difficult task to find comparative material.
A garden all of annuals is also a desirable expedient when a place is rented for a season. Perennials, of course, can be set out temporarily and removed with the rest of the household belongings—this is done every year—but the plan is not always practical. Most would prefer to plant annuals and leave the problem of garden permanence to the next comer. Again this kind of a garden is a welcome alternative when a new place is in its first season and there is either not the time for permanent planting or else a definite scheme is left to future decision.
Then there is the country home that is occupied only from late June to early September, The garden could still be hardy, out of the abundance of summer-blooming perennials, if there is any one to give it the necessary spring and autumn care; but annuals, and bedding plants treated as such, are sometimes to be preferred for one reason or another.
Whether it is well to possess a garden of annuals simply to have it all annuals is something that no one can decide for another. Without question, it may be a garden of superlative beauty; on the Riviera are great borders that prove this—borders composed of drifts and other irregular sections of some of the most strikingly effective annuals, the arrangement being as careful as if permanent material were employed. Like proof was offered at the international flower show of 1911 in London, where there were groupings of annuals that could not be surpassed with perennials. The disadvantage of a garden of annuals is not any limitation of esthetic potentiality; it is its im-permanence, necessitating complete making over and repetition of expense every year, and a minimum season. The last is- the great, and unconquerable, disadvantage; July is at hand before much bloom can be counted on and of the few species available after the middle of September not all can stand frost without protection. There are two kinds of annuals, hardy and half hardy. The latter are too tender to put plants in the ground until near the end of May, so that getting them started under glass does not help the matter of May bloom. Hardy annuals are so by comparison with the other class, not in the sense that most of the cultivated perennials are. The few that are really hardy, surviving through late seedlings of the previous year, hurry their blooming very little.
In the circumstances why not let the garden of annuals belie its name, just as the hardy garden does without compunction whenever it chooses?
Lavish annuals on it in any measure for summer glory, only do not leave the garden bare before and after. This is easily got around by pardonable inconsistency. In October plant the garden with tulips, hyacinths and other spring bulbs. Edge formal beds or borders with hardy candytuft, for a permanent thing; with pansies, Bellis perennis, Myosotis dissitiflora or Arabis albida for spring bloom or with violas (tufted pansies) for summer flowers. All of these plants can be set out in October and with the exception of the candytuft any of them are suitable for places between the bulbs, which they follow immediately in bloom when the period is not coincident; the arabis and myosotis are especially good with early tulips, or late ones if care is taken as to the color that goes with the myosotis.
Late in May, when the bulb foliage is turning brown, remove any other plants that are not used for edging and set annuals in all the available spaces. Or the bulbs may be taken up, dried off and reset in the autumn. If this is done throughout, or here and there, the garden may be given a riot of autumn color by massings of hardy chrysanthemums. It is not necessary that the chrysanthemums should be potted ones; they may be plants from cuttings rooted in the spring and grown on in rows, as they will bear moving even when in bloom.
Start the annuals, other than poppies, eschscholt-zia and sweet alyssum, early by sowing seed in a coldframe soon after the first of May. Keep the plants under glass until the end of the month, or later if the garden is not ready for them. T^o not let them get spindling; this is the objection to starting the seeds in the house in boxes in April. If started still earlier in a greenhouse, in March, they can be potted and put in the garden as good- sized plants; but they will reach up for the light and are apt to go outdoors in a weakened condition.
Annuals that are a long time reaching maturity— such as helichrysum, the finest of all the everlastings, and the old type of cosmos—ought never to be sown in the open ground. The fascinating sal-piglossis, also, is sown early under glass to insure bloom. Then there is the sweet sultan, which likes to get an early start so that it may give of it* best before the heat of midsummer.
An effective way of using annuals is as pot plants —not only to fill spaces in the greenhouse but for the porch in summer, and for setting among shrubbery or in garden blanks. A great deal of this is done in England, where some potted annuals are superb specimen plants that cause eyes not familiar with them to open wide with wonder. Think of bushes of Clarkia elegans, a yard high and through, that are a mass of double pink or salmon blossoms t These are May possibilities if the seed is sown indoors in September and the plants potted and pinched back to promote bushi-ness. Cosmos, for autumn; rhodanthe, one of the everlastings; the common double balsam, ne-mesia, schizanthus, cockscomb and Dimorphotheca auriantiaca, the last of which has handsome hybrids now, are among other suitable annuals for pots. The balsam, nemesia and schizanthus, like clarkia, develop better in pots than in the garden.
One of the biennials, the Canterbury bell, is as fine a subject for pot culture as heart could desire.
This and other biennials, among them the foxglove, hollyhock and Myosotis dissitiflora, are usually thrown in with the annuals as they are regarded as plants of only a year so far as garden usefulness is concerned. Often they spend scarcely more time in the garden than is necessary for blooming, after which they are discarded. The same with sweet-william and columbine, though both of these will persist several years if conditions are favorable.
Of the number of annuals in cultivation few have any idea. Name a dozen or so and the list that the average person can think of offhand is exhausted. The common annuals are such because of a worth that time has shown, but they do not begin to be all that ought to be common. Nor do they begin to be all the easy ones—if any annuals can be called really difficult.
The salpiglosis is one that deserves to be better known; it is very good for massing if the colors are not mixed, but this plant affords the keenest pleasure when it is in less crowded garden conditions or when the blossoms are in a vase. Unappreciated, too, are schizanthus, with its myriads of little butterflies; nemesia, than which no low annual is more charming and which shows blue as well as red, yellow, pink and white, and phacelia, especially P. campanularia, with its blue bellflowers.
Then there are three rayed annuals that are badly neglected. The Swan river daisy (Brachy-come iberidifolia), from Australia, is among the daintiest of carpeting annuals. The type is light blue, but there are white and pink varieties. Of the others the African daisy (Arctotis grandis) is unusual in that the white blossoms have a mauve centre, while the foliage is very downy, and the Namaqualand daisy (Dimorphotheca aurantiaca) furnishes rich yellow bloom. This trio is good for all summer.