Annuals complete their life cycle in one year, they grow from a seed, flowers and set seed, after which they die. Chickweed and Sweet Peas are both examples. Also commonly known as annuals are Ephemerals – these can complete many life cycles in one year, such as the pernicious weed Bittercress. Many bedding plants are treated as annuals but in fact frost-tender perennials, such as petunias
Perennials live for more than two years and in most cases, many years. Trees, roses and shrubs fall under this category, these have a permanent structure, herbaceous perennials grow and bloom over the spring and summer and then die back every winter, their root-stock (or crowns) surviving below ground to re-shoot again in the spring. All perennials are either deciduous, dropping their leaves every Autumn, or evergreen, retaining their foliage all year.
Also available is a sub-species with pure white flowers (FRITILLARIA meleagris ssp. Alba).
Unfortunately these hardy wild flowers are becoming increasingly rare in the countryside due to modern farming methods, but the few protected sites in Britain really are a wonderful sight in April.
They are easy to grow in a border or pot, and look stunning naturalized in grass, either in sun or partial shade.
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If your garden soil is poor or dry and in partial shade, this hardy euphorbia will cope! It makes a good evergreen backdrop in the shady garden and reached 60cm high. Try with phormiums for contrasting shapes, or with alchemilla mollis for similar coloured flowers in early summer and contrasting foliage.
To determine what your soil is, take a piece of soil about the size of a golf ball and roll between your fingers removing any large stones. Now try to roll into a ‘worm’ shape.
A sandy soil will not form this shape, it simply falls apart. If you can form this shape easily and when rubbed, the surface turns shiny, this is clay soil.
You can improve every soil by adding organic material such as compost or manure. This helps bind particles together in a sandy soil, or helps clay soil become more workable.
Knowing your soil will help you choose the right plants for your garden and enjoy more success growing healthy and happy plants.
Its foliage lasts well into late winter, when at some point the leaves will fold down, forming natural protection for the crown of the plant during the wet and cold winter months. Its best to leave these until early spring, when they can be removed completely to make way for the fresh new leaves (known as fronds) to elegantly unfurl.