favorite annuals

marricgardensOctober 27, 2011

I thought it would be interesting to see what your favorite annual was. Why do you like it in your garden? Do you have any new preferences? I started out with geraniums. Loved all the new shades of red and the variegated foliage ones. When the perennials aren't flowering, the geraniums were always there, blooming away. After 10 years, I've decided to try different ones. I like the sweet faces of the new gazanias, the nigella with its lovely ferny foliage. This year I tried a new one (to me anyway) called Dimorphoteca 'Salmon'. Lovely plant that seems to be doing better in the cooler fall than it did this summer. Anyone know if it reseeds? Hope so. I'll plant more of it next year along with the 'Kiss and Tell' Gazanias which also do better in the fall. These ones aren't as tall and look nice at the front of the bed. Next?

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I try new annuals every year. My favourites are the ones that self seed, sparing me from collecting, labelling and storing. I've had Gomphrena "Strawberry Fields" in my red bed (affectionately known as "Communist Party Headquarters-- Better RED than DEAD") and it self-seeds reliably, although they bloom somewhat late. I make up for it by using some early-blooming perennials next to them: a Firecrackier-type Penstemon and some white Salvia.
This year I grew Gomphrena "Las Vegas Purple" which is stop-in-your-tracks colour that worked nicely with the neighbouring Mirabilis "Limelight", another self-sowing annual that I wouldn't be without.
Every year I have an old-fashioned vining petunia pop up in various spots, having introduced it four years ago.

Ipomopsis rubra (Scarlet Gillia) is another enthusiastic re-seeder. California Poppies are always around, although the colour has reverted back to orange from my original sowing of pink. Orlaya "white lace" reseeds in with the Cal Poppies, a nice combination.

In my garden the Cerinthe starts germinating in the fall, coming on in September, when I start cutting down the spent perennials and letting in more light. Right now my Cerinthe is serving as a foliage plant. About 8" high in late October, they won't have time to bloom but they are sure nice as a gap filler.

Moluccela laevis (Bells of Ireland) is a prolific seeder and I yank out tons of it each May. Other self-seeders just cant compete with it, so I put dark-leaved coleus in before the stand gets too thick. It's a gorgeous combination.

I always have Nicotiana alata (the Jasmine scented flowering tobacco). It is so much nicer than the other coloured varieties that I've been roguing out everything but the white alata. Sadly, my Nicotiana mutablilis was too popular with the bees and it did not re-seed true to form. This is my absolute favourite Niki, with tall swaying sprays of flowers atop tidy dark-green rosettes. My "hybrid" is still nice, but I'd sure like to get back to the original with some fresh seed.

I have Osteospermum in the salmon colour. This is a cousin of the Dimorphoteca and even more lovely, IMO. I bring it indoors for the winter and take cuttings in April. A few years ago I grew Dimorphoteca and it did not re-seed for me. These are South African natives and their homeland is not too cold in winter, unless at quite high elevations.

My LEAST favourite annuals are Silene and Nigella. These guys are just too fecund and have become a nuisance. Just enough to complain about-- I wouldn't want to get rid of them.

- Bev

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 11:25AM
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I have been tending toward more annuals lately for the colour and longevity of bloom. I finally had my best success this summer with four o'clocks--love the autumn sunset Bev! (I did get them from you didn't I?) Also had pale pik and yellow. I planted two different kinds of white zinnias and I also grew some of the strawberry fields gomphrena--love it. I grew the hot pink kind before and really like that one too.--did you save seeds from the purple one Bev?? :)
I also planted nicotiana alata and blue ageratum (found these seeds at MILs house after she died last fall)
Good old marigolds! I gave up on them for a few years, but I am really enjoying them this year. I planted mumsy 'yellow', disco orange, jolly jester and a NOID one that I was given seeds for. Others in the garden this summer--datura 'lilac la fleur', datura 'triple yellow', orange cosmos, heliotrope 'marine', calendula 'dwarf', dahlias 'collarette' and a vining four o'clock 'mirabilis longiflora' (loved this!!) and millet 'purple majesty'

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 7:52PM
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I had completely forgotten that I plant Mirabilis every summer. Beautiful plant aned the hummers just love it! Thought about trying the Strawberry gomphrena but haven't yet. My favorite perennuial to grow is the daylily so I try to pick annuals that will look nice with them. Most of my plants, except vegies, are winter sown. Would Gomphrena be a good candidate for that? Marg

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 8:39AM
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GG, yes the Mirabilis "Autumn Sunset" was from me. I grow it in the back garden so it doesn't get diluted with the "limelight" which has the front garden. I didn't save seeds (yet) from the Las Vegas Purple gomphrena and last night we had our first hard frost. They were still blooming yesterday-- I'd better get out there before everything flops. I'm sure the seeds are okay 'cause, as I mentioned, the gomphrena self seeds nicely-- which would make them a good candidate for wintersowing, Marg.
- Bev

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 9:14AM
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Thanks Bev. Now to look up the Mirabilis "Autumn Sunset", they sound gorgeous! I grow the plain ones and the ones with the streaks, forgot the name. I love them all! Marg

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 10:14AM
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Just found this post.

I've fallen in love with the cosmos polidor for late summer show. Always have bachelor buttons, nigella because I like the funky look of the seed heads.

This year I want to add snap dragons, different sunflowers for the birds, salvias for the hummingbirds, marigolds (starting those early) and last year I grew some purple leaved beets in my garden bed - they are fantastic for middle to front border plants with dark contrast against oranges, pinks and salmon coloured plants. I also grow carrots in my annual beds because I love the foilage (and the carrots later).

What a great post - now I'm dreaming. Okay, back to working on my spare room clean up.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 2:35PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

Peggy ~ I too am a fan of Nigella and I also plant vegies in with my flowers as I love foliage. This year I have ordered a couple of new for me Centaurea Cyanus Classic Fantastic and Classic Romantic both available at Bowseed. Last year I put Ornamental Kale in with my pots and I use lots of different grains to add height to the back of the border. The birds love it and it looks really airy and natural. Many different grains available at Prairie Garden Seeds in Saskatchewan. Amaranthus in as many varieties as I can, look just awesome! I love the cottage garden look! :)


    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 1:55PM
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Peggy - how tall does your Polidor cosmos get for you? Mine only reaches 3-4' but my brother lives in town, and more sheltered than we are, and his grow to about 5'. I grow Nigella because it looks great with daylilies. Marg

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Hi Marric,
Last summer my Polidor cosmos grew just over 4' in turned up soil around our new home. No soil amendments at all last year. This year I'm adding either seasoned cow manure (getting a truckload) or compost. I'll see how they grow then. It was awfully hot last summer and those babies took the heat in stride. I was impressed. Minimum water too since we're on well water. Hoping this year with soil amendment next year things will grow more with even less watering. I do love them though for the never ending show from mid-summer through to a hard fall frost. And the seeds - I have a margarine tub full of them. Going to be putting them all over the garden this summer and hopefully grow some down the sides of our long country drive. Incredible.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 8:13PM
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Crafty Gardener(ON 5b)

I love zinnias, cosmos, nasturtiums and venidium. I grow them in large pots so they can be moved around the garden for needed colour. I save the seeds from them each year.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 10:31AM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

I love nasturtiums, purple annual candytuft and cosmos! I have all three every year, and also balsam impatiens and impatiens glandulifera.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 9:36PM
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my favorite for cutting or dense pots (they like the support) is double Lisianthus (Eustoma). In my experience most nurseries/greenhouses don't carry them as they take a long time to grow (I think they sow them in January) and they don't want to dedicate the space.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 8:20PM
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