Gotta love those annuals!

I’ve been away for a bit to eastern Ohio and then immediately on to Wisconsin, so I’ve been playing catch-up with the produce rather than writing since our return.  Immediately upon turning into the driveway, it was obvious that the gardens had changed while I was traveling.  Since those first warm days of spring, the reliable perennials have been carrying the load.  Of course none of them stay on the stage very long.  Most of them have short, but memorable performances and coming one right after another or sometimes overlapping to form an ensemble, they are deserving of applause.  When I left, the daylilies were stealing the show with a strong chorus of colors, heights and forms.  Now the annuals are the star attractions, and I am so thankful for them.

While most people are planting more perennials, I still count on my annuals to carry the show, especially from now until frost (usually early October.)  Oh, they’ve been contributing a lot already as bit players here and there as the perennials had the spotlight, polishing up their acts, gaining in volume and gradually getting bigger parts but now they are the headliners.  They will deserve that top billing and attention for weeks and weeks to come (as long as I keep them deadheaded!)  Here are the stars of the current show: Zinna Prof Dbl compressed Zinnia “Profusion Double Click Deep Salmon.”  These are much, much prettier than my photo.  The leaves weren’t blue when I compressed it!  They are really workhorses in my garden, blooming from May to frost with very little care.  They are almost self-cleaning, so require very little deadheading on my part.  I use them at the front of the border, as they get about 10-12″ tall and form graceful, fully filled mounds.  They come in a variety of colors and are easy from seed.  Next are my beloved snapdragons.  I’ve praised these “Liberty Bronze” snaps before, but they deserve even more!Snap Liberty bronze compressed  This year, with cooler temperatures and abundant rain, they have continued putting on a show since I planted them in late April.  The Liberty series has nearly every color in the rainbow, and are very easy from seed, but start them early (late January for me) for opening acts.  Our current weather has also been good for the nasturtiums, violas and calendulas, all of which areNast Tip Top Apricot compressed everyday bloomers in the potager.  I decided to add bits of blue here and there in the garden, blue being a partner across the color wheel for orange.  I chose this tall “Blue Horizon” ageratum, and it has been a wonder, blooming early and long.  It really is blue-blue, not purplish and makes a great cut flower.  Ageratum tall blue compressed  Just coming onto the stage, and still playing a supporting role is the self-seeded cleome, “Helen Campbell.”  Cleome compressed  As it gets taller and more abundant, cleome will be getting a larger role.  The same applies to the tall zinnias, which are just getting off to a good start.  Zinnia Inca compressed  Before you get the wrong impression, I must add that all annuals are not as talented as those I’ve shown so far.  I was very disappointed in Zinnia “Decor” which was supposed to be a blend of orange zinnias and lime-green zinnias.  Most of them were (horror of horrors!) like thisZinnia tall pink compressed  so they were cut from the act!!!  So were many of the “Pixie Sunshine” which were supposed to be dwarf (they were) and a mixture of white, yellow, and orange but in reality were magenta, red, or (gasp!) Zinnias pink compressed  another horrible pink!  Having failed their audition, I won’t be growing either of those again.  And also disappointing has been the “Perfume Lime” nicotiana which looked good early on, but seems to be getting very tired as the season progresses.  Nicotiana lime compressed  To get star billing in my garden, a plant must have endurance as well as beauty.  So, I’ll be scouring the seed catalogs over the winter, searching for some new talent.  Maybe I’ll find some at the upcoming Garden Writers’ annual conference, a great for talent scouts like me!


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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5 Responses to Gotta love those annuals!

  1. Beautiful! I love the way annuals bloom in brilliant colour all summer, whereas the perennials are wonderful to watch grow and cycle through their seasonal blooming. I relied on perennials a lot in my garden for early spring mood, colour, and the promise of new life. The tulips were up before we could even plant annuals (due to frost still possible at night), and bleeding hearts were a spring favourite.


  2. Your plants are beautiful. I planted zinnias along all our chain link fences, and, as expected, they are blooming profusely. They are so good at covering up ugly stuff. Mixed colors, lots of pinks! I pick bouquets every morning and put them everywhere in the house. So cheerful!


  3. bcparkison says:

    Horrid colors?…No all colors are pretty …some just more than others. Now do you keep cleome from taking over? I think I have finely gotten rid of mine that just took over. I just never knew where they would show up.


  4. Amie Lucas says:

    Your flowers are stunning! I can grow veggies, fruits, and herbs but when it comes to flowers, I always manage to kill them somehow.


  5. I liked your post very much and have to agree about those snapdragons, though I did not know what they were called; I have some, and they have become perennials in my summer flower pots, overwintering, tucked in under the eaves of the house, somewhat sheltered from bad weather and too much rain. Thank you for your post!


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