Thursday, June 19, 2008

My annual rant

At one time I was a perennial prude.

I used to think that a true gardener only planted perennials and by my planting only perennials, I would somehow be awarded the golden green thumb. I have a friend, dare I say, is still that way. "Annuals are so boring," is what I heard and I believed her. I wanted to be that sophisticated gardener that stayed away from the garden stalwarts of petunias, marigolds, impatiens and geraniums. I used to think they had no place in my garden.

Well, let's just say I have embraced my inner annual.

I admire my sister-in-law's gardening philosophy. Be bold! She isn't afraid to plop an annual wherever she darn well pleases. She was blessed to buy a house that had beautiful existing perennial beds. But she uses splashes of color to brighten vacant spots. A fuscia here - a million bells here - a profusion zinnia there. It's just enough color to make her beds interesting and colorful and that's what I'm learning to do too.

Let's face it, perennials gardens can be kind of bland between blooming periods and without annuals here and there, they can get kind of "green." That's not a bad thing it's just, well, kind of boring.

So, in comes the annuals. Here's what I've been planting:

Heliotrope - great purple blooms. Some say they have a vanilla scent but I'm not smelling it yet. Looks great with my pink dianthus.

Bacopa (Snowstorm Giant Snowflake) - the best trailer I have planted in years. Always blooming and needs very little care. This beats an ivy any day.
Gazania - I have the Tiger Mix variety with blooms of yellow, orange and white stripes. I have it in my "all-orange" planter along side signet marigolds and a trailing peach million bells.
Cuphea - I saw a webcast where they put together colorful planters and they used this red accent plant. I bought one on a whim. Jury is still out though ...

I love what I'm seeing with this combination of Zinfandel Oxalis, osteospermums and orange profusion zinnias. The Zinfandel has yellow blooms that come up when the sun is out - very pretty.

My favorite planter - I love the red and pink together.

Signet marigolds in "Lemon Gem" - they really smell like lemons!

I'm embarrased to say that I finally tried these for the FIRST TIME:

Coleus (Sedona) - I feel in love with the orange. I first made the mistake of planting it in full sun where it took a beating. I moved it to the the northside and added some small red coleus to the planter. It has bounced back nicely.

Baby's Breath - What a novice, I know! And I thought I could use it only in the dried variety. This is beautiful!

Wax begonias - Gasp! I've never been attracted to begonias but I thought I'd try one in a mixed planter.

Perennial wisdom

I don't want to disrespect the perennials - they are the staples to every garden and I do love them. I have two favorites so far in this growing season.

My May Night Salvia has never looked better. In fact, I have people that stop in the middle of the street and stare at it. One lady knocked on my door and asked me for a leaf to bring in to a nursery to find out what it was. That's never happened before to ME. I'm usually the one knocking on someone's door!

This lady's mantle has been a pleasant surprise. I bought this late in the season last year when it only had about two leaves and it was on its last leg. I have it in mostly shade and it's about ready to show its chartreuse blooms. I liked it so much that I bought one for a small area in the backyard that I recently dug up and am making a small "shade sanctuary". Photos of that to come ...

My canna experiment is working!


Connie said...

My very favorite annuals are the self-sowers....Poppies (Shirley and California), Larkspur, Nigella, Bachelor Buttons, Calendula and Corn Cockle.

Beth said...

Do they need full sun - I've seen the larkspur and the nigella and think they are lovely. Did you have to thin your California poppies really thin? I tried them this year and they got all yellow and I yanked them up. :O( I thought that maybe I planted the seeds too close together.

buy Pond Plants said...

Canna's are fun, we use them as marginals or bog plants in our water gardens. They spread so quickly too.