What can I say about annuals?
I used to think I didn’t like them; I would go so far as to advise clients against planting them. Since you had to re-buy and re-plant them every year, I really felt they were a waste of money and time. When I compared them to the return visits of perennials year after year, then for my money, there was nothing better. Perennials were it. Boy, was I wrong.
You see, I was raised by two parents who were born during The Great Depression. My mom was the youngest of seven children and in 1927, that was a lot of mouths to feed. Prior to the crash, my grandfather owned and ran a successful silk mill in Paterson, NJ. My grandmother had a chauffeur and they lived very well. After the crash, my grandfather lost the mill and had to find a job in order to feed those seven mouths. My mom tells the story of my grandmother giving my grandfather 15 cents every day when he went out to look for work. They lived in Brooklyn so it was five cents each way for the subway into the city and five cents for lunch.
I can’t even imagine what that was like but I have no doubt that is where my waste not, want not attitude comes from and to this day, I hate to waste anything. That kind of thing stays in the blood and becomes part of the psyche. How could I escape that? I couldn’t. I am and have always been a waste not, want not kinda gal.
When you combine Depression-era mentality along with my own need to do my part in saving the earth, well you can see why I would only ever consider planting perennials.
Perennials were the smart and economical plants. You buy them once; you plant them. One and done. Given you put the right plant in the right place with the proper growing conditions, you can have that plant for years and watch it multiply and spread. Now, I do still agree with that: Perennials are wonderful and my garden is full of them. Planted with thought, you can always have something blooming.
I would never ever give up on my perennials but when combined with annuals, you have consistent, nonstop blooming till the frost.
As each perennial wanes, the annuals keep on going and going and going. If you want flowers from spring to frost, then there are nothing like annuals. The little engines that could and do. They keep chugging along, flowering and blooming until they finally get too cold to carry on any further.
The variety of sizes, shapes and colors are endless.
In the right place, they are perfect and the bang for your buck is without question, a big bang. There are bedding annuals and annuals that are ideal for the borders. There are annuals for pots, the thrillers, the spillers and the fillers.
Suffice to say, this waste not, want not gal has been converted.
I no longer consider annual plants to be a waste of time or money. Quite the contrary, I think my garden is not complete without them. Combined with perennials, I consider them to be a great addition to any garden, border or planter. There are vibrant and colorful varieties as well as soft and pastel varieties. Something for everyone.
Some of my favorites…
Petunias, oh those hard working petunias.
And the array of available colors from white, to yellows, to pinks, reds, purples and shades there of. There are variegated varieties. There are spreaders and trailers. Purple is probably my favorite.
This year, I did a lot of purples, reds and oranges and the effect is beautiful. These are three squares that were left without bluestone and filled with soil to create planters in the patio. This year I planted six plugs from flats at the four corners and one in the middle on each side. How is that for multiplying? In the centers I have Sun Parasol Crimson Mandevilla.
These pots on the brick wall held a variety of annuals, some of which I winter over in the garage and bring back out every spring.
A couple of years ago, I planted the canna ‘Tropicana Gold.’ Every fall just before the first frost, I clean up the pots and bring them into the garage. They die back to nothing and in early spring they go back outside and before you know it they are a full lush plant again. This summer I added petunia ‘Tritunia Blue’ along with purple and white lobularia.
Perennials and annuals happily living together.
Coreopsis x ‘Enchanted Eve,’ Stokesia laevis ‘Honeysong Purple’ along with petunias, marigolds and one of my favorite annuals, Lobelia erinus ‘Riviera Midnight Blue.’ The color on these lobelia are so strong and beautiful. This photo was taken shortly after the annuals were planted. It is now a lush mix of yellows, oranges, deep blues and purples.
Geraniums, good old fashioned geraniums, are hard to beat.
They are hardy, durable, pest free and can take hot sun, dry conditions and still be happy. The geraniums in this photo are in the blazing hot sun all day with no shade or relief and they thrive and flower nonstop.
I also brought these in before the winter. I trimmed them back and left them in a sunny east-facing window. They flowered through the winter and were a cheerful sight during the bleak weather. They grew a little leggy but I let them go. As soon as it was warm enough, I trimmed them back again, gave them a good feed with fertilizer and put them outside. Still blooming…