As usual, the first seed order for 2020 was placed with Geo Seeds in October, to earn a nice 20% discount. Geo is a wholesale company that has a huge offering of mainly ornamental plants, although they do have a (very) few vegetables and herbs. The factor I love is that most of their plants are available in separate, selected colors rather than a mix. So, I can order just orange or apricot or white and get just what I want. For someone picky (like me!) it’s wonderful to just pay for the colors I need and not waste valuable indoor space growing something, only to find out when it finally blooms that it’s red or pink (HORRORS!)
The order contained all the usual, necessary annuals: “Hot Pak Orange” marigolds for the potager’s edging; “Durango”marigolds for the borders; “Liberty Bronze” and “Montego Orange” snaps; “Penny Orange’ and “Peach Jump Up” for edges and spring containers; zinnias “Profusion Double Deep Salmon,” “Profusion Apricot,” and the taller “Queen Lime Orange.” Last year I neglected to order celosia “Fresh Look Orange” and really missed those long-lasting orange plumes in the borders, so they topped this year’s list. You’ll find photos of all of those in prior years’ posts about early seed orders. However, there are a few new candidates, beginning with Coleus “Wizard Golden.”
I love chartreuse and gold foliage mixed into the borders, because it adds a lot of interest even when the plants aren’t in bloom. Last year’s “Golden Moss” feverfew and talinum “Kingwood Gold” worked very well, but I need more! Coleus is easy to grow from seed, especially if given bottom heat, but it has to be started really early to have plants of any size, and can’t be planted out until ALL danger of frost is long past. The plan is to tuck lots of these “Golden” coleus into groupings as space from the tulips becomes available.
Alchemilla “Irish Silk” also made the list for its green-gold foliage that is always tidy and appealing, having slightly pleated leaves with serrated edges that hold dew drops. The chartreuse flowers will also brighten up the borders. As perennials, they won’t have much size or presence this year, but recognizing that I’m getting older and may not always be able to plant 4,000 annuals each spring, a few more carefully chosen perennials are being added. Three more perennials will add more touches of “blue” to the flower gardens. The first is Linum “Sapphire.”
Linum, better known as perennial flax, is a low-growing plant with delicate foliage and pretty nickel-sized blooms of sky blue. It loves sun, but will grow in light shade. It grew for years in the Cottage Garden at the herb farm, and I miss it, so it’s being reintroduced into the gardens to compliment all the orange and yellow annuals. Also adding blue is Salvia pratensis “Sky Dance.”
I love perennial salvias for their durability and long-bloom period, and the hummingbirds enjoy them, too. As long as they have good drainage and lots of sunshine, they do well without much care. Their foliage remains in a low-growing rosette, but their sky-blue flower-filled bloom stalks rise 20″. If I remember to cut them back, the plants will rebloom (not generally in their first year, but in subsequent years) generously. Some gardeners are growing them as a cut flower since they are so showy. The last perennial being added is a catmint, Nepeta “Panther Dark Blue.”
I’ve grown and enjoyed lots of catmints in past years, but I’ve never grown this one. Geo says it will flower in its first year, if started early, so I’ll be seeding it with the onions! This is another tubular flower for the bees and butterflies, and also reaches 20″ when in bloom. It can also be grown in containers, where it stays a bit more compact at about 12-14″. I’m not adding many new annuals, but I’ve decided to try Pansy “Ultima Beacon Bronze.”
A few pansies are always welcome for the big pot by the front door in very early spring, and extras find their way into the deck planters. These look perfect for my color palette. I used to seed the pansies in November, but now that we do more traveling, they’ll have to wait till after the first of the year.
I grew the lovely annual “Phlox of Sheep” which had apricot, very pale yellow, or beige blooms in clusters atop compact plants. Apparently it is no longer available, so I’m trying “Coral Reef” and hoping there’s not too much pink or red in the mix. I love that Victorian look of annual phlox, even though it doesn’t bloom over a long period like many other annuals.
Cosmos “Apricot Lemonade” is described as soft apricot with a pale lavender base and reverse, fading to soft yellow at maturity. Cosmos are loved by butterflies and are usually a good cut flower as well. This one grows to 27″ and flowers July-October. The plan is to grow the “Coral Reef” phlox below the cosmos to help hide its bare legs. From the photos, it appear they will look well together.
The final selection is actually an herb, Melissa “Mandarin Orange.” I’m a tea-lover and any plant that is good for tea gets at least a trial. I’m assuming that this is a selection of lemon balm, has those pretty scalloped leaves and is just as easy to grow; a perennial that will thrive in sun or light shade. So, that was my first seed order, which has already arrived! Let the 2020 season plans begin!