We may give hardly a thought to the easy availability of beautiful flowering plants. However, there are people and historical events to thank for our great gardening fortune. The early Egyptians and Romans, for instance, introduced unique flowers to the gardens of their empires and the world.
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) are self-seeding annuals native to the Mediterranean. Their red, lavender, orange, pink, yellow and white blooms flower profusely between spring and fall. They grow equally easily from seeds as from cuttings. The buds open up along erect spikes, from bottom to top. Snapdragon varieties range from about 6 inches to 4 feet in height. Sometimes staking them helps to steady their progress. They enjoy the sun, but they also do well in partial shade. Water and fertilize them regularly and ensure they have well-drained soil. If snapdragons are cut back after their summer blooming season, they are likely to bloom again in the fall.
Snapdragons are bright spots in any garden. It is interesting to think that today's snapdragons were already established during Roman times. Today they continue to grow in the grounds of ancient Roman temples and stadia. Centuries ago, people associated snapdragons with supernatural powers and protection from witchcraft.
Garden geraniums (Pelargonium hortorum) are among the hardiest of herbaceous annuals. They are as dependable as they are eye-catching, flowering from spring through fall. There are more than 200 species of the Pelargonium genus.
If you know someone who grows geraniums, just ask for some cuttings and plant them in pots of soil. Once they root and start to grow, usually in a matter of weeks, you can transplant them into the ground, in well-drained soil and a location that enjoys lots of sunshine. It is best to start out geranium plants in warm weather. They do not respond well to frost or cold. Since geranium flowers and leaves tend to grow together very densely, it is helpful to thin them out from time to time, and not to drench the leaves when watering. This will ensure good ventilation for the plant.
Irises fall into three main categories: bearded, aril and beardless. Bearded irises exhibit what look like beards on the lower portion of the flower. They are native to Europe. Aril irises have long, thin beards and originate in the Near East. Beardless irises are indigenous to Asia. This exquisite flower is aptly named, for Iris was the messenger of the gods in Greek mythology.
Irises are easygoing perennials that bloom in the spring in an array of brilliant colors, most notably blue, yellow and white. They flourish in well-drained soil and lots of sunshine. Irises grow from rhizomes, which should be planted fairly close to the surface, with the roots packed firmly in the soil. Allow ample room between plant rhizomes so that the irises do not crowd one another.