Sunday, September 21, 2008

Diary - My 10 Favourite Annuals

My 10 Favourite…………………………Annuals

Ht: 12” Sun
These are often called geraniums, often considered bland and ordinary but I love them! They are the most trustworthy, reliable annual ever produced. They’re good in sun, heat and drought. They bloom from planting to frost and really perform when deadheaded and fertilized. Are available in every colour imaginable: white, pale pink, dark fuschia, salmon, coral and variegated. The trailing ones are just as good – I use them throughout my perennial border for constant colour.

Nicotiana (Tobacco plant)
Ht: 20-28” Sun to partial shade
I like all Nicotianas – I’ve successfully grown the hybrids from seed and have bought plants from the nursery. Colours vary from white to pale pink, deep rose, burgundy to mixed. I also love the tall, fragrant Nicotiana sylvestris (3-4’ tall). Nicotianas benefit from a strong “haircut” in late July (i.e. cut plant down by half!). Blooms will be back in full force by late August.

Ht: 8” Partial shade
Deep blue or deep purple Lobelia are my favourites, providing excellent background for hot-coloured plants, creating a beautiful edging for a bed or delicately trailing over the side of a pot or urn. They can take sun but prefer full shade or partial shade.

Nigella damascena (Love in a Mist)
Ht: 10” Sun
Blue or blue/white/pink mixed shades of flowers seem to float above finely cut foliage. Seed pods are round and variegated. Let these dry out thoroughly and harvest the seeds or just let the plant self-seed all over the garden. Dainty and really different!

Scaevola (Fan Flower)
Ht: 10-14”
Fan-shaped flowers in pale mauve were all the rage in containers several seasons ago because of their delicate colour and lovely training habit. Enjoys moist conditions but can tolerate drought and heat.

Salpiglossis (Painted Tongue)
Ht: 18-24” Full sun
Very easy to grow from seed. Get the mixed variety. Each flower is trumpet-like with contrasting colour variations. Very interesting and different.
Ht: 9-12” Full Sun
Another dependable “constant” in my garden. I love the deep purple and pale yellow hybrids. I adore the newer “Wave” petunias. The only ones I have never been partial to are the stripey picotees – they remind of the circus.

Ht: 12” Sun to partial shade
Has this plant ever increased in popularity lately! The variety in colour is breathtaking – lime green to deep burgundy and variegated types including both colours. Easy to propagate and take care of. Remember to pinch out the spiky flowers for a more sophisticated look.

Tuberous Begonia
Ht: 12” Partial to full shade
Lush and rich-looking with a many petalled flower on strong, thick stems. Glorious colours like deep red, burgundy, sunny yellow and soft peach.
Great in borders and especially in urns and hanging baskets.

Datura and Brugmansia
Ht: 7-10 ‘(feet) Spr: 4-5’ Sun
Datura and Brugmansia are quite similar. In my garden, either I deliberately plant them or they self-seed (like last summer, they grew out of my compost heap!)They grow to an enormous height and width. The trumpet-like flowers are white or the latest new ones are yellow or variegated purple. Amazing! A real show stopper in any garden.

Honourable Mentions

Chinese Forget-Me-Nots (Cynoglossum)
Ht: 18-24”
Dainty blue flowers, similar to springtime forget-me-nots, grow easily from seed on bushy upright plants. They bloom in late summer when a lot of other stuff has faded away.

Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus)
Ht: 36-48” Full Sun
Really weird looking plant that “grows” on you ( Ha ha!) Exotic deep red rope-like flowers hang from tall stalks. As eye-catching and different as Datura. Amaranthus tricolor ‘Joseph’s Coat’ is another “What’s that??” plant for your garden with its cream and scarlet striped foliage.

Hesperis matronalis
Ht: 18-30” Sun to partial shades
A very popular biannual. It sends up large spikes of lilac/purple flowers and also has a sweet fragrance, that’s noticeable in the evening.

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