31 December 2007
top ten plants--annuals
Well, we here in the Maritimes have decided to ring in the new year with another enormous snowstorm. At dark, more than a foot of snow had landed on the deck (which my longsuffering spouse had cleaned off this morning from yesterday's snow...or was it the day before's snowfall?) Whatever the case, there's heaps, and heaps of snow out there, and more to come, making me really glad that I finally got those bulbs in the ground last week. So now, we'll finish out the old year with my favourite annuals--at the moment, that is!
Hummingbird mint is just as its name suggests; a magnet for hummingbirds, but also for butterflies, and for gardeners who are thrilled by its lemony-mint fragrance. This is one of the 'Acapulco' series of Agastaches, and flowers from spring until the snow buries it (in which case you dig the container out of the snowbank and bring it indoors.)
You can grow Anagallis monelli (blue pimpernel or poor man's weatherglass) from seed; it's a sprawling plant that does well in containers or in front of borders, and of course this blue is just beyond exquisite. There are orange cultivars available now, as we discussed in the wonderful postings about orange that some of you loved...and others loved less. )
Salvia 'Black and Blue' was a star performer for me this year, better than it's ever done. It doesn't like cold weather in the spring, but after it gets well established and has been growing all summer, it handles the pre- hardfrost weather of autumn really well. The black stems and calyces are a dramatic foil for the bright green foliage, and we've already seen how I am about blue flowered plants.
Earlier in the autumn I showed several photos of this gold-foliaged bacopa (or sutera) and said I couldn't remember its cultivar name. Finally I found it; this is 'Copia Golden Leaves', which I like better than 'Gold n Pearls' because the flowers are lavender rather than the all-too-common white.
Twinspur, or Diascia, are nice hummingbird magnets too. Usually we see them in shades of rose through to red, but this one caught my eye last spring. It's called 'Pumpkin', and was a strong performer all summer and fall, even when I forgot to deadhead it to prolong bloom.
This is an underused perennial in a lot of gardens, and I can only think it's because the foliage and flowers have a strongly unpleasant scent to them. Despite this, lantana is a butterfly magnet too, and a plant I have to have in at least a few container plantings. What really appeals is the way the flowers change colours, often showing three or more shades in the same cluster of florets.
Regular readers know that in the annual world, this plant is as delightful to me as is 'Green Envy' echinacea. All of the African daisies are particularly appealing to me; possibly because their complex flowers have so many subtle details to them, but this venidium is a favourite, and a plant that isn't available nearly often enough from nurseries. Available also in red and orange, the silver green foliage makes a nice contrast to the metallic sheen of the flowers.
Another African daisy makes the top ten, this one an osteospermum, 'Astra Pink Yellow.' I think it's really well named, don't you? Its hardiness has been astonishing too, given that I threw several pots of osteos into the compost when the non-tropical-storm event Noel was due back in November; and they kept flowering until they were buried by snow, like other hardy annuals we enjoyed this year.
I don't like petunias one little bit, at least for my own garden. They're messy, smelly, need deadheading, and just don't do it for me--yet I love them in other people's gardens. On the other hand, callibrachoas tickle me. They flower peacefully without needing deadheading, hummingbirds and butterflies love them, they come in some dazzling colour combinations, including this one, which is called 'Purple Sunrise', which I found new to the area this year and really like. A bit different colour taste than my usual inclinations, but maybe that's why I like it!
Nemesia are another annual that can be grown easily from seed, and come in a wide range of colours. If you want consisant and strong colours, try the 'Sensatia' series of fruit flavours. This year, I grew 'Raspberry', 'Lemon' and 'Cranberry' but there are at least three or four others in this Proven Winners series of yummy annuals. Most of our annuals are grown in containers, with the exceptions of the 'free range' poppies, sunflowers, nigella and violas.
We here in Nova Scotia are going to be among the first on this continent to arrive at 2008 (Newfoundland will be half an hour earlier) so from our house to all of you, all best wishes for a Happy New Year, and great gardening in 2008!