26 April 2008

My Annual Obsession

We're just easing into day two of the highly successful Saltscapes Expo, and I'd just like to thank all of you who've offered good luck wishes to me for this hectic event. I love this show, just as I love working with the people who own and work at the magazine, so it's all good. A couple of intense days leading up to, but once we're into it, things just run so smoothly. It's a terrific showcase for all that is awesome about Atlantic Canada, and it's fun to be a part of it. My talks went great yesterday, mostly because I have such nice audiences, and we have conversations rather than me being El Plant Knowitall (which I sure nuff AIN'T) and inevitably I learn a few new things too. It's all good.

I didn't take my camera for a walk yesterday, something I'll correct today, so I thought I'd give you a break from my conifer/evergreen obsession and move on to my next obsession--annuals.

Annuals are something I primarily use in containers, as observed before. We do have some annuals tucked into the garden beds, like annual poppies, nigella, sunflowers, Verbena bonariensis (which doesn't come back for me, unlike my talented friend Robin's Nesting Place who gets it to reseed!) Every year there are certain annuals that I especially have to have, but also every year I'm compelled to try some new colours and colour combinations in my plantings. So I thought I'd show you a few of the annuals that followed me home the other day from Gerry's Nursery in Centreville. We'll start with Ageratum Artist's Blue Violet, which became a plant I like only a couple of years ago based on this colour, which to me is leaning towards wine. There IS one even darker, but I can't remember the name without my journal of plant names.

While I dislike petunias--for my garden, I like them just fine in other gardens--I love calibrachoas, which are tidier, less smelly, attract hummingbirds, and bloom like gangbusters without me fussing about deadheading. This one is called Apricot Punch.

Lobelias do fine for me because I do deadhead and shear them fairly regularly, plus the cooler air temperatures (thanks to the fog) helps them. There is a Techno heat series that is very heat resistant which I quite like, but this is from the Laguna series, and it's Laguna Blue.

This is its sister, Laguna Blue Eye.

Lantanas are a staple of my containers because despite the smell of them, which I don't care for, butterflies and hummingbirds love them. This is Lantana Fruit Punch.

Nemesias have been underused in past year, but they do seem to be gaining in popularity, thanks to some work by plant breeders. This beauty stopped me in my tracks, and I bought four of them: it's called Opal Innocence, and while it's a bit pastel for my usual tendancies, it's just so lovely I needed it. It's also fragrant, quite nice I think.

Proven Winners has a nice series called Sunsatia Fruit, and I had great success with them last year. This star is Sunsatia Raspberry, though I also brought home Cranberry.

I don't know how you fair with torenias where you live, but I like them for their unique flowers and intriguing colour combinations. This is the well named 'Lovely Yellow' ; the soft yellow colour works as great contrast to its purple-blue throat, and while I don't know yet what will go with it, chances are there will be plenty of good options that I haven't seen yet. (after all, I've only hit one nursery with Annual Urgent Plant Seeking Madness).

This one is called Catalina Rose, and again isn't my usual colour choice, but I'm going to work it in with Sunsatia Raspberry, Opal Innocence, and a rosey Diascia that also got into the car trunk.

That's it for this morning. Oh, and a tip of the ol' gardening hat to my enabling plant chums. We'll see what happens when I get a day off next week to go working on UPSM at some other nurseries!


  1. What great selection of plants! I like the calibrachoas and the lobelia. How do you think they would stand up to heat and humidity? I suppose partial shade would help.

  2. I can't believe it is nearly time to buy annual flowers around here. I'm sure to run in to some of these at our local garden centers. Thanks for the preview.

    Carol, May Dreams Gadens

  3. Thanks for giving me some great annual ideas. I'm definitely going to try the lantana this year as we have loads of hummers about.

  4. Jodi, How cool to participate in the Saltscapes Expo! Congratulations on the success of your talks.

    Love your annuals selection.

  5. I suppose I'm like you: I go for the bold colors usually. But I've reminded myself to choose a few whites. I love white and silver in the moonlight. You've made some wonderful choices. And I too love the lantana. The butterflies seem utterly enthralled by it.

  6. Thanks for the link Jodi, I'm still amazed that the lovely verbena is a perennial here. Every plant is coming back again along with little seedlings all over the place. Wish I could share them with you!
    Lantana has been a long lime favorite of mine as well as the calibrachoas.

  7. OMG, Jodi! 'Opal Innocence'! The apricot calibrachoa! MUST-GET!!! That ageratum definitely turned me around on them, too. Darnit, now you're making me want to trash my deadline and head out to the nursery!!!

  8. I love cascading blue lobelia in my containers. They bring back so many childhood memories. I believe they were the first flower I learned the name for when I was very small.

  9. Wonderful post!
    Beautiful flowers!

    Have a nice weekend :)

  10. Jodi .. we fell in love with the fragrant nemesia (I didn't know some weren't fragrant !) .. the scent is fantastic and a must for our deck where we sit. I have a thing for portulaca (spelling ?) .. they put up with neglect and survive my terra cotta planters which of course dry out quickly if I don't watch them as often as I should.
    Coleus for our front door step is such a relief .. no deadheading (other than the flower stalk once in a while) those intense colours against our light gray brick is wonderful. I can't wait to get started ! Thanks for the ideas too !

  11. great flowers and good ideas

  12. I'm with Nancy. I'm going to try Lantana this year, I think. It blooms so late into the season. I don't generally buy annuals, but I think the length of its bloom will make it worth it, even for a perennial diehard like me.

  13. I love the annuals you have shown here. I too am a bit obcessive with annuals. I just love to walk through all the greenhouses in the area to browse the flaming annuals. It is such fun to stumble upon a new plant to bring home. It is interesting watch to see how it does for the season.

    I hope all of your speaking sessions are going well.

  14. I think the annuals you have chosen are very pretty. I used to plant lots of annuals but now only some in pots, mainly in wintertime!
    I love Lobelias and they do well over winter. In Toowoomba, called the garden city, is a flower festival in September. The gardens ooze with annuals in all colours, it is breathtaking. There is such a dedication and so much work to get this short floral display. I try to go next September and make some photos.

  15. Lanatana's fill many of my containers here but I don't think I ever smelled them before. This summer I'll have to take a whiff.

  16. I can't resist buying a lot of annuals each year--instant gratification, I guess. I enjoy container gardening and always fill them with annuals, plus annuals are an inexpensive and instant way to fill in empty spaces in my flowerbeds. Thanks for introducing me to some new ideas.
    I'll add my recommendation, too, for the lantana. Last year was the first year I tried it, and it was one annual that stood up to the intense heat and humidity we get in the summer.

  17. Thanks for the support, Jodi, we shall hope for the best! I got a good 8 hours of gardening in today, so I feel great!

  18. I've noticed more and more nemesias over here too. Odd how plants suddenly come into fashion.

  19. I've become a lantana fan and will be looking to grow them again this summer. I buy the red/yellow/orange variation. Call me shallow, but they look very nicely with the red/yellow/orange-striped outdoor curtains we made for around the spa. And the coordinating red/yellow/orange table cloths on the deck tables. I'm not the type to buy artwork to match my sofa, but I love the look of coordinating the annuals with the "stuff" around them.

  20. Hi Jodi: glad to hear all is going well with your talks... wish I could hear them. While you are just getting cranking on your annual purchases I am winding down... have been purchasing since February and the pocketbook (and the heat) says time to quit. I like your choices even though I don't recognize many of them. I do grow Lantana in every color... mostly as ground cover... it acts like a perennial here.

    You have reminded me I wanted to stick a couple of torenias in some pots as accents... haven't grown them for a few years... hmmmm... suppose I could make one more trip to the nursery?
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

  21. Jodi

    Everyone loves lantanas. But most do not know that the berries are HIGHLY POISONOUS TO humans particular CHILDREN. The smaller the child the greater the problem and potential for death. It is more toxic before ripening but serious at any stage. This is true for small pets. Also the leaves are an irritant. When eaten by cattle etc in large quantity can also be toxic. I teach toddlers early that nothing gets put in the mouth.
    Matt Cohen MD

  22. Hi Jodi, glad you are enjoying your saltscape weekend. Your photos and choices are tempting, I don't recall seeing the nemesias for sale here, maybe too hot? But calibrachoas are the greatest, so many colors to choose from and no maintenance. They are very drought tolerant in the ground and we even had one winter over from last year, it is blooming now. So of course more have been added. I can't wait to see photos of your containers planted up with your purchases.

  23. Ohh, these flowers are pretty ballerinas.

  24. All those plants are right at home in my garden. We go way back and I knew their pappies and grand pappies. Now you know you're talking my PW's of course and I'm just beaming with pride. The nemesias fruticans smell so good. I'm glad you are back home safe and sound. I'm about to head off to bed. They are going to work my fool rear off tomorrow and I'm dreading it. Nighty Night.

  25. I bought that 'Opal Innocence' last year and loved it as it had that translucent 'opal' quality that is so hard to see in a picture. I think you will love it! That yellow torenia with the purple center caught my eye also. It is a bit early here for annuals but the time is coming!

  26. We planted Calibrachoa for the first time last year and I agree that it's a wonderful plant that bloomed prolifically (million bells indeed) and seemingly forever. We just ordered a bunch. Unfortunately Apricot Punch wasn't offered by this particular grower :(

    Your nursery sure seems to offer many more kinds of annuals than ours do. I really like the look of The Lovely Yellow Torenia. Lucky we don't live there. We would end up in the poor house.

  27. To start my official day off to catch up on the rest of life, I thought I'd answer the commenters:

    Dave, I can't speak to too high temps or humidity (we get the humidity, the Valley gets temps in the high 80s to mid- 90s but we only get a couple of those days up here on the hill due to the water. Techno Heat series of lobelias do hold up to heat and humidity well, I do know that.

    Carol, yup, it's that time again...probably you'll be able to get them outdoors sooner than I will, too. Mine are held in the greenhouse until late May, and even then there are a couple of 'sheet nights' when I cover them against a possible frost.

    Giddy, lantana IS amazing...as Matt notes below, and I neglected to put in my post (though I mentioned in all my talks), it's also toxic, especially the berries that form after flowers, but deadheading will remove them. And as long as you warn children and don't have dumb dogs (as opposed to smart dogs or cats), they're fine. I've never had any problem nor have I heard of any reported here.

    Garden girl, thanks! The Expo was fun, but tiring...a post coming soon.

    Brenda, white and silver ARE gorgeous in the moonlight--thanks for pointing that out. I'll have some of those choices coming soon.

    Robin, my pleasure! I'm so excited for you with the verbena b....I'm going to try direct sowing it and also really carefully mark where I put any transplants, so that I don't disturb any potential seedlings next spring. (Ack! a long time from now...)

    Ourfriendben: Isn't it funny how Urgent Plant Seeking Madness strikes when we see new and interesting choices? I might just venture out later today myself, though mostly I just want to BE in my own garden today.

    Amy, that's really neat about learning the name lobelia as a child. The first flower I definitely remember, besides dandelions and devil's paintbrushes, were nasturtiums. My father planted dwarfs that grew giant-sized, even in Newfoundland.

    Marie, thanks for visiting!

    Joy, isn't it funny how some of the nemesia are so fragrant and others are beautiful but scentless?Glad you enjoyed, and thanks also for mentioning coleus...I'll be talking about them soon, too.

    Melissa, lantana IS really appealing; I use most of my annuals in containers, as 'port a plants', and it's fun to watch the butterflies and hummers going for it!

    Lisa, the talks went fine...I'm a bit hoarse today but just writing, not talking. ;-)

    Melanie, the foliage of lantana is just as pungent as the flowers; the flowers don't really cast a scent unless you touch them, if memory serves. It's the foliage smell, like tomatoes, that I don't like.

    Rose, instant gratification is exactly right! Annuals are such fun, especially when we mix it up with lots of interesting options.

    Jean Ann, hope you had a nice warm bath with Epson salts after all that hard work!

    Sue, it is funny, isn't it, about plants growing in popularity? But I'm glad of it. I wonder if it's not because plant breeders find some species and genera just easier to manipulate into new colour variations?

    Jim, I love the red/orange/yellow combinations you mention. I think that's great fun!

    Meems, it's so funny, isn't it, how I'm just getting going and you're winding down with plant purchases. Do you have 'midsummer meltdown' because of the heat, with your annuals and perennials, and how do you cope with that?

    Matt, thanks for reminding me about the lantanas one flaw. I mentioned that toxicity in all my talks, and then forgot to write it here. Might be the tired brain....;-)

    Frances, not sure about nemesia and heat tolerance, but I bet Anna (Flowergardengirl) knows what they are like that way, because there's a whole line of Proven Winners nemesias.

    Anna, there you are--you can speak to the nemesias for Frances, can't you? You're even warmer than she is, aren't you?

    Layanee, I have the Opal Innocence here in my office (stored them here for the weekend) and the scent in my office is wonderful.

    Ki, glad that you've enjoyed Callies too--I think this Apricot Punch isn't so different from some of the others,like Terra Cotta...but I had to try it anyway. ;-)

  28. When it comes to annuals vegetables are more to my taste. I don't bother with annual flowers - I'm a perennial freak and have more than enough to keep me busy. But looking at your photos almost makes me want to convert.

  29. I must admit I am not smitten with annuals, Jodi. Although I appreciate their beauty, annuals are something I primarily use in containers and because I am gone much of the summer with watering issues, not as many as I would like. I do love placing them in 'bald' spots throughout my perennial gardens in the summer. The longer I garden and the older I get, it's the color, texture and form of foliage that excites me most.

  30. I share your love of annuals, Jodi, and like to put them in containers..as well as here and there among the perennials in the gardens.
    I had that Apricot Calibrachoa and the Nemesia Sunsation Rasberry last year and adored them both. Really gorgeous!
    The color of that Ageratum is wonderful. I'm going to try the Torenia this year, and perhaps some Lantana too. Diascia and lobelia are 2 favorites I always grow.

  31. Yummy, yummy, yummy, Jodi! I've seen the calibrachoa 'Apricot Punch' here, too. I think I might have to indulge in that one. Don't they just perform so well?
    Love the lobelias, which do well for me, too. Nemesia - not so well, although they're sold quite a bit here. Maybe I'll try again this summer. Last summer wasn't the best for much of anything except drought-tolerant plants.
    I've got to get things for my front windowboxes, and your post got me in the mood!


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