<p>by Amanda<\/p><img src="\/media\/wpuploads\/sites\/3\/2016\/01\/year-of-the-2016.jpg" alt="" width="900" height="455" \/>\r\n\r\nEach year the National Garden Bureau chooses one perennial, bulb and annual to highlight as their \u201cYear of the\u201d varieties. \u201cEach is chosen because they are popular, easy-to-grow, widely adaptable, genetically diverse, and versatile,\u201d their website states. In 2016, they\u2019ve chosen <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/begonia-flower-bulbs">Begonia<\/a> as their annual, <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/allium-flower-bulbs">Allium<\/a> as their bulb and <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/perennials\/delphinium">Delphinium<\/a> as their perennial to highlight. We can\u2019t be more thrilled \u2013 all three of these are some of our favorites to grow and we\u2019re excited to have a reason to talk more about them.\r\n<h2><strong>Begonias<\/strong><\/h2>\r\n<a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/begonia-flower-bulbs">Begonias<\/a> are shade-loving beauties that produce some of the most colorful and awe-inspiring blooms in the garden, often doing their best in containers. \u201cWith over 1,700 different species, Begonias (family Begoniaceae) is the fifth most diverse class of plants,\u201d says the National Garden Bureau. \u201cBegonias are often found wild from South and Central America to India. It is impossible to know exactly where they originated, but stories of plants matching their description date back to 14th century China.\u201d\r\n\r\nThese historic plants can be grown in almost any part of the country, but should be started indoors at least a month before being brought outside, to ensure summer blooms. <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/begonia-flower-bulbs">Begonias<\/a> require shade, regular watering and feeding, so they are best planted on the patio or in an easy-to-reach spot. That said, Begonias also do perfectly well planted in the ground and the blooms, often reaching 5-6\u201d across, make a colorful statement anywhere in the garden.\r\n\r\n<img src="\/media\/wpuploads\/sites\/3\/2016\/01\/mixed-begonias.jpg" alt="" width="900" height="554" \/>\r\n\r\nOut of the many species, we carry <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/begonia-flower-bulbs">two<\/a> that thrive in North American gardens. Hanging Basket Begonias have a weeping, cascading plant structure and do best planted in containers, where blooms can elegantly hang off the side. Tuberous Begonias are the most popular variety, with large, Camellia-like blooms in single and double form.\r\n\r\nPollinators \u2013 especially hummingbirds \u2013 flock to the nectar-rich flowers, creating a spectacle in the garden and helping the pollinator population. Begonias are also a versatile plant for gardeners living in colder regions \u2013 when frost threatens, simply bring your pot indoors and enjoy your Begonia inside for the winter months.\r\n\r\nLearn more about growing Begonias <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/blog\/2015\/02\/21\/all-about-begonias\/">in our blog.<\/a>\r\n<h2><strong>Allium<\/strong><\/h2>\r\n<div class="float-right"><img src="\/media\/wpuploads\/sites\/3\/2016\/01\/allium-butterfly.jpg" alt="Butterfly on Allium" width="400" height="601" \/><\/div>With wonderfully unique blooms, ornamental <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/allium-flower-bulbs">Allium<\/a> often steals the show in the late spring garden. Although we\u2019ve always been a fan of this versatile and easy-to-grow bulb, they have only recently become popular in home gardens throughout the country.\u00a0 \u201cIn recent years, alliums have been used to great effect in the naturalistic plantings of garden designers such as Piet Oudolf and James van Sweden,\u201d says the National Garden Bureau. \u201cThey are ideal companions for ornamental grasses and other low maintenance perennials such as sedum, rudbeckia, echincacea and salvia.\u201d\r\n\r\nBesides being the perfect companion for early-blooming perennial varieties, <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/allium-flower-bulbs">Allium<\/a> are also deer resistant, making them the perfect choice for gardeners with pesky critters digging up their bulbs. The globe-like blooms also attract a variety of pollinators to the garden and naturalize each year, hardy through zones 2-3.\r\n\r\nOrnamental <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/allium-flower-bulbs">Allium<\/a> come in a wide variety of colors and sizes, ranging from small, rainbow colors to the popular large, purple Gladiator and Globemaster. All varieties of Allium are extremely easy to grow and tolerate almost any soil type, requiring little water and maintenance. Planted in the fall, these spring-blooming beauties look best planted in clumps and add a unique statement to your early season garden.\r\n\r\nLearn more about Allium in our <a href="http:\/\/blog.americanmeadows.com\/2014\/04\/11\/fun-unique-spring-color-allium-bulbs\/">blog.<\/a>\r\n<h2><strong>Delphinium<\/strong><\/h2>\r\nElegant, spiky blue flowers are famous in cottage gardens, but <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/perennials\/delphinium">Delphinium<\/a> integrates well into any garden or meadow. \u201cDelphinium, a native throughout the Northern Hemisphere, includes about 300 species in the Ranunculaceae (Buttercup) Family,\u201d says the National Garden Bureau. \u201cThe name \u2018delphinium\u2019 originated with the ancient Greeks who thought the shape of the new flower bud with spur resembled that of a dolphin\u2019s nose.\u201d\u00a0\u00a0Also known as Larkspur, this popular perennial can be grown from seed or purchased as an established plant.\r\n\r\n<a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/rocket-larkspur-seeds">Wild Delphinium,<\/a> also known as Rocket Larkspur, is famous in the dried flower trade and grown from seed. Gorgeous spikes of red, blue, pink, white and purple add unique color and texture to the summer garden or meadow and attract a variety of pollinators. Wild Delphinium is extremely easy to grow, can be planted in any sunny spot and makes for gorgeous cut flowers.\r\n\r\n<img src="\/media\/wpuploads\/sites\/3\/2016\/01\/delphinium-larkspur.jpg" alt="" width="900" height="435" \/>\r\n\r\n<a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/perennials\/delphinium">Delphinium<\/a>, or Larkspur, boasts spikes of brightly colored flowers in a wide variety of cool colors. The easy-to-grow plants form mounds of dark green, glossy foliage topped in early summer by the dramatic, spurred flowers that are perfect for bouquets. Taller varieties form an incredible backdrop for perennial plantings and all types look at home in both formal and informal beds. Plant them in full sun in an area sheltered from strong winds.\r\n\r\nIf you\u2019re still putting together your planting ideas for this spring, we suggest including these three versatile, easy-to-grow varieties in your garden or meadow.