Annuals are your most abundant crops, giving instant satisfaction to the grower and great joy to the buyer. If you are an impatient character and fair-weather gardener looking for quick results, then annuals are for you. Which cosmos, sweet pea or chrysanthemum will you grow? Read on, be inspired, then hunker down with the seed catalogs and have some fun choosing.
Growing cut flowers, whether for pleasure or profit, is very much about creativity and taste. You can plant a field of annual asters to crop, but which asters will you choose? Will they be those listed in the wholesale seed catalog as ‘pink’, or will you trawl through the Internet, spending time as well as money on finding a seed supplier for that one gorgeous annual aster you fell in love with when you saw it at a horticultural show?
Remember, you’re competing with all the other growers, large and small, for market share. You will enjoy the whole experience a great deal more if you grow flowers you’ve chosen to match the garden you’ve planted: those which particularly tickle your floral taste buds – and they’ll be a much easier sell for you if you love them. This may sound an obvious point to make, but when you look at the sheer quantity of different varieties of annuals, and then at the different colours within each variety… Which cosmos will you grow, and why? Which of all the sweet-pea varieties will you choose? The choices you make with your annuals will make your busiest season the success you want it to be. So in a small patch, avoid any kind of generic pink and go for unusual varieties.
You grow perennials for reliability, shrubs for filler and winter greenery, bulbs for early spring and autumn color – but you grow annuals for delight and the sheer abundance of them. Flowering annuals provide the quickest turnaround in the gardening year, and with good management will give you buckets and buckets of the crop from very little planting. Three cosmos plants, one sweet-pea stand, a little clary sage, some ammo, and a few tall snapdragon varieties do a cut-flower garden make – and from the planting of seed late March you’ll be cropping that little mixture from June onwards.
If you plan to be a summertime-only flower farmer, then annuals are your crop: they’re prolific; floriferous; come in every shape, colour, texture and height; and with the right management they’ll perform for you all summer long.