Thursday, July 26, 2012

Annual Business

It’s beginning that time of the year when we can be thankful for the annuals we’ve planted.  Whether in pots or in the ground, they’re just now reaching their best.  Meanwhile in the perennial corner, most are about done blooming and beginning to look tattered.  It’s especially true this year where most all plants are suffering with drought conditions.

I tried something new in my shaded flower pots:  Totally planted with coleus.  Typically, I stick with all impatiens.  Impatiens grows to form late summer lushness.  I’m good with lushness.  They also take an enormous amount of watering in the fall, fertilizer and pinching back.

Coleus has been hybridized into so many beautiful colors, patterns and sizes.  My current determination is they also take a lot of watering, but, can die from too much water.  The bigger leafed ones can break in high winds.  If they are to remain compact, the tops must be pinched.  OK – a little different care than I’m used to performing. 

On the scale of beauty and the look I was wanting, the coleus makes a much larger statement especially when several distinctive types are grouped.  I do rather miss my impatiens and how they get a second wind late in the fall.   Their light parfait-looking flowers are pretty scrumptious.

The other new thing I tried is the entire front row of my new raised garden bed was planted with cannas and gladiola bulbs.  Since I couldn’t put landscape fabric over bulbs, I figured it was the perfect place to plant some real old fashioned annuals.

This is going to be a riot of color.  My Cannas are red and the glads are multi colored.  Coming up from seed is four-o-clocks, bachelor buttons, nasturtiums, and cosmos.  They fill in nicely around the bottom of the bulb plants.

Four-o-clock flowers are multi colored bright pinks, yellows and whites.  As the name suggests, they open late afternoon.   Foliage is dark green and the plant forms an 18 inch bush.

Bachelor buttons have light moss green strap-like leaves with white, pink or cornflower blue flowers.  They grow to about 24 inches and continue to bloom until frost.  They do well in a vase. 

Nasturtiums are low growing and this particular variety has variegated leaves.  Their flowers are shades of orange, yellow, and red.  Nasturtium flowers are also edible in fresh salad or with seafood.  They last a long time in a vase.

Cosmos have medium green lacy foliage and can be short or up to 30 inches.  They also come in a variety of bright colors and white.  For years I had cosmos self seed and then one year they were gone.  It’s going to be nice to see them in the garden bed and to pick for vases.

In another area of the gardens, cleomes have self seeded and just coming into their own.  Beautiful heads of white, pink and purple on top of 36 inch stalks. 

The birds have spread sunflower seeds in various unsuspecting places much to the joy of me and all the little goldfinches attracted to the seeds heads as they mature.  All of these annuals are loved by birds and bees.  

I’ve planted all these annual seeds in years past and I must say I’m glad they’ve returned.   At a time when perennials are ready to call it quits, they leave no doubt why people still indulge in annuals.

If I squint, I can imagine my entire yard is lush with beautiful blooming flowers and healthy green foliage.  Narrow that squint and I don’t see the effects of the drought conditions.  Annuals can be a little paradise in the dessert. 

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