Avid gardeners everywhere anticipate the winter thaw like a child anticipates the winter holidays. Making an early spring trip to the garden center, to buy the first annuals, brings joy to every plant hobbyist. The joy continues when the first wave of summer annuals arrive.
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus), an old time favorite among gardeners, bloom in early spring in warm climates and early summer in all other climates. They prefer cool weather. Admirers love them for their sweet fragrance. Plant them in full sun to partial shade. Where climates are warm, plant them so they get afternoon shade.They grow 9 inches to 3 feet. Try these cultivars (not naturally growing in the wild): 'Bright Butterflies' (red, pink, bronze, yellow and white flowers) and 'Sonnet Mix' (shades of red/pink, yellow/bronze and white).
Marguerites (Argyranthemum frutescens) bloom all summer with unscented, petite daisy-like flowers. They grow 1 to 3 feet tall. Plant them in full sun in containers, window boxes, as well as garden beds and borders. They bloom profusely as long as they are deadheaded throughout the season. Try these cultivars: 'Butterfly' (yellow flowers) and 'Vancover' (pink flowers).
Plant China asters (Callestiphus chinensis) in your cutting garden for enjoyment of the rose-scented flowers in your house summer through fall. They grow 9 inches to 1 1/2 feet tall and require full sun. They do well in beds, borders, cutting gardens and containers. As the name implies, they originated in China. Try these cultivars: 'Dwarf Queen' (double flowers in red, scarlet, rose, pink, blue, and white); 'Mini Lady' (large double flowers of scarlet, rose, blue, white); 'Milady Mixed' (scarlet, rose, pink, blue and white); 'Massagno Mixed' (shades of red, pink, purple and white); and 'Galaxy Mix' (yellow centers with pink, purple and white flowers).
Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana), unscented flowers, grow in many shades of pink, red, orange, lavender, red-violet and white. Bedding impatiens reach a height of 4 inches to 1 foot depending on the cultivar. Balsam impatiens grow 1 to 2 1/2 feet tall and New Guinea impatiens reach 1 to 2 feet. Bedding and balsam impatiens require partial to full shade. New Guinea impatiens require full sun to partial shade.