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Spring Flowers -Color at last

Spring is the favorite time of year for most gardeners, as they love to see that riot of color from the many annuals that flower during that time. These can be purchased in punnets early and planted out as soon as frost danger is past. Then they will bloom more quickly, filling up all that bare space left by dying winter flowers. You can certainly save money by growing your own seed, but accidents can happen to fragile seedlings and hungry slugs or snails can quickly gobble them up.

Of course, if you want your spring garden to be full of flowers, you really need to plant some varieties such as poppies and pansies in the autumn of the previous year. During the cold winter they will establish roots and as soon as the snow starts to melt there they will be, ready to burst into bloom. But if you have really freezing winters then it will be best to wait until spring to plant some varieties.

These are members of the dianthus family such as carnations, sweet William and Chinese pinks. All these hardy annuals bloom for a long time, so they are certainly worth having in the garden. They can be planted in the front of a bed, or used as an under-storey for rose to take away that leggy look some get, or just add more color.

If you want mounds of color without leaves choose the nemesia; it does have leaves, but they are small and narrow, so often go unnoticed under the profusion of blooms. The flowers have a faint scent and come in many different colors. They look like miniature snapdragons. If you have mild winters and summers, nemesias will flower almost year-round making them excellent value. Their cascading habit makes them a valuable addition to rockeries or pots and also along the edge of the garden where they can spill attractively onto the pathway.

Pansies and violas have to be amongst the most popular garden flower. Growing only 6-10 inches tall, they have a number of applications in the garden; edges, pathways, rockeries, mixed with other plants or alone. They look fantastic any way at all. Many people love the huge heads of the hybrids, but planted en masse, the single color smaller headed variety looks perhaps even more spectacular. Get rain or wind on the bigger flowers and they droop, hiding the pretty face.

Stock is also a spring bedding plant and the flower is excellent for the vase as well as the garden. The heady perfume means you should plant it along pathways or near doors and windows so you can enjoy the fragrance as much as possible. They grow from 1-3 ft high, so mixing them with shorter plants will ensure a riot of color.

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