If you want your annual late winter through spring flowering display to give the best floral results, you need to give some thought to planning and preparation.
Perhaps you have already done so but if you haven't I would like to pass on a few tips by virtue of my many years of planting out annual beds in public parks.
I believe the secret to a good display is to trench dig the bed, that is, remove the first row of soil to a spade depth by the same distance in width.
This soil is placed in a wheelbarrow to use over the final trench.
Fill the first trench with aged compost then throw the next trench soil on top of this and repeat the process until you reach the end when the soil in the wheelbarrow is used to cover the final compost-filled trench.
As the compost rots down it generates heat which acts as a type of bottom heat for the plants above.
This trenching method can also be used in the vegetable garden.
Spacings between the plants is pivotal as is a fortnightly application of a liquid fertiliser high in nitrogen until the first sign of buds appea,r then change to a fertiliser for tomatoes.
Another tip is the correct choice of edging plants, those which will not attain the height of second row plants thus will not spoil the overall effect of the bed.
Alyssum, lobelia, phlox and violas are possibly the best plants for such a purpose.
Alyssum Carpet of Snow can always be counted on to give a magnificent show while the deep blue Lobelia Crystal Palace blends in delightfully with this white alyssum.
Alyssum Violet Queen with its mauve to pale violet flowers is another outstanding plant and the dwarf phlox can also be used in a first row edging being smaller than the drummondi types.
Violas in various colours blend in beautifully with any scheme and I suggest you plant them no closer than 15cms apart.
Remove all flower buds until the leaves of the plants are touching the plant next to them before allowing them to flower.
Primula malacoides in colours of white, pink, red and lavender are the perfect annuals for bordering other plants in shady positions.
Ranunculus in full bloom are a sight to behold and last for such a long time.
Space about 30cms apart in rows.
The taller growing annuals form the next row after the border planting.
Here, Iceland poppies with their cup-shaped flowers in delicate art shades were my favourites for an impressive spring display, but do not plant them closer than about 45cms apart.
Calendulas can be found in a wide range of colours and are best planted at spacings no less than 45cms apart.
Cinerarias can be planted in shadier parts of the garden where they will also receive protection from heavy frosts.
Plant 50cms apart as they like to spread out.
And towards the back of the border the firm favourites include snapdragons, stocks, Russell lupins, foxgloves and the ever popular statice.
The plants I have mentioned are a general guide and can be replaced with similar varieties.
April 17: The Australian Plants Society Tasmania Autumn Native Plant Sale, Max Fry Hall, Gorge Road, Trevallyn 10am.
April 17, 18: The Launceston Horticultural Society's Autumn Show at the Evandale Memorial Hall, Saturday 2pm-5pm, Sunday 9am-4pm.
April 20: Australian Plants Society Tasmania meeting, Max Fry Hall, 7.30pm. Keith and Sib Corbett to speak on 'The Establishment of the Tasmanian Bushland Garden'.
Daily: Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden, Burnie from 9am to 4pm. Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday. Tea room open between 9.30am to 4pm.