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An Introduction to Flower Gardens

An Introduction to Flower Gardens
by R. Birch

Becoming familiar with general planting and maintenance requirements for perennials and annuals is essential to the long-term success of your flower garden. The following are a few guidelines, which will help your flowers bloom and remain healthy for years.
Begin with the garden's basic necessities. Your flower garden must have an adequate supply of water and nutrient rich soil. The proper amount of sunlight or shade is also critical. Any lack of these basic necessities will negatively affect the health of your plants.
Add compost and peat moss to sandy soils to increase the soil's ability to hold moisture. Clay soils require the addition of sand and compost to provide adequate drainage. Compost is important in any garden since it provides your plants with nutrients. Be sure to water the flower garden more frequently during dry spells.
When planting your flowers be sure they're planted at the existing grade of the garden. Flowers planted too high or too deep will often perform poorly. Also, make sure that you don't pile soil or mulch around the plant's stem. If you do, water will drain away for the plant rather than sinking in.
Plant perennials and annuals together in the same garden. Perennials are those flowers that bloom and grow larger year after year. After growing during the spring and summer, they die back to the ground each winter only to reemerge the following spring. Annuals grow and bloom for only one season. Perennials generally are classified as early, mid or late season bloomers. Iris, for example, blooms in the spring. Once its finished blooming it provides lush green foliage. Annuals bloom all season long - from spring until the first frost. Planting a variety of perennials and annuals ensures a colorful garden all season.
An occasional application of liquid fertilizer over the course of the season will help your flower bloom longer.
In the summer the main task in the flower garden is deadheading. Deadheading is the process of clipping off spent blooms. This won't encourage many new blooms in perennials but will keep the garden looking fresh all season. With annuals, however, deadheading will encourage continuous blooms all season. If you don't discard the spent blooms in the garden, mildew and other plant diseases may spread throughout the garden.
Cultivating is another important garden task. Cultivating the garden soil is a job that serves two purposes. It keeps weeds from taking hold in the garden and allows water and nutrients to reach the plant's deepest roots.
Know the difference between the good insects and the harmful ones. Many insests are beneficial to the garden. Butterflies, beetles, and bees are important since they pollinate the garden flowers. They fertilize plants through unintentional transfer of pollen from one plant to another. Most flowers rely on insects for survival. Beetles, bacteria, and other microorganisms assist the garden by turning dead plant material into compost. This enriches the soil and creates the nutrients which plants require. Other insects like lacewings, ladybugs, and dragonflies, are natural predators of more harmful insects such as aphids.
Proper garden planning and maintenance are essential to a healthy flower garden. Flower gardens, though easy to care for, require some maintenance. The work put into a garden is worth the effort, however, as they provide years of colorful blooms.

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