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!


  1. Happy New Year Jodi! I do hope you get to feeling better soon. It is a bummer to be ill over the holidays. UGH....

    A foot of snow on top of snow. WOW
    I just wouldn't know what to do with all that snow.

    We got a bit of rain yesterday with a snow flurry thrown in here and there.

    I just love the plants that you have in your top ten Perennial and Annual lists.

    I think I have tried all the annuals before but some of the perennials make me wish I could start buying now.

    Seeing all this color makes me so happy. Isn't it amazing what color can do for your mood??

    Take care... Lisa

  2. Beautiful choices! I'm going to add some to my garden this Spring. Oh, don't I wish it were Spring! Hope you're feeling better. All the best in 2008!

  3. Interesting how most of the annual flowers on your list have smaller flowers. Where are the bright sunflowers and gaudy zinnias?

    I do like what you've chosen but did notice you've chosent mostly smaller flowers.

    Happy New Year!
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  4. Wow, Jodi! Your lists of 10 favourite plants are impressive!

    It seems so long since I played in the dirt that I can hardly remember the names of the plants in my flowerbeds anymore, let alone which ones performed best.

    OK, I AM only kidding...but I am also experiencing cabin fever. (sigh) How many weeks, days and hours till spring?

  5. Happy New Year.

    Seems we're sharing the snow. I love the stuff but I'm ready to share it with those less fortunate now.

    I like the top 10 annual and perennial posts. It nice to see what catches someone else's fancy especially when some of mine are included.

  6. Happy New Year!

    I've got my notebook here and I'm making my list, Jodi. Some of these are already my favorites, others I'm less familiar with.

    I love lantana; it was a perennial for me in the south, actually it was more like a shrub. It does smell unpleasant but it's worth it. Your picture shows the differing colors beautifully.

    It's snowing now and seeing your bright colorful flowers are so cheerful!

  7. Nice pictures of your annuals. I was thinking of some Black and Blue Salvia for this coming spring, it's good to hear it did well for you. The lantana looks great too! Good information!

  8. Whenever I think I miss the Maritimes, I watch the weather network!

    Beautiful pictures...!

  9. Happy New Year, Jodi! I think that you and I are not the only ones who yawn at petunias but love the callies. :)

    By the way, why is the blue pimpernel also called "poor man's weatherglass?"

  10. Dear Jodi, a very Happy and Healthy New Year to you, your family and all the cat-children. Here we didn't have a snowstorm but there were lots of fireworks which my kittycats didn't like very much, all that noise!!! Sometimes it felt like we were under siege. At least snowfall is quiet.:-)

    I hope you get better soon, I've noticed you've been under the weather for weeks now, you poor thing!

    Once again a lovely little list of favorites. Must try to get some seeds of the blue pimpernel, such pretty little blue flowers. I have grown nemesia before but never from seed, must try that too!

    Happy gardening in 2008!!! Lots of purrrrrrrs from the Bliss team!

  11. Great list - and different enough from what my own annuals list would be (unlike your tree and perennials lists!) that I'm becoming inspired to make a Bwold's faves list too. The agastache would probably make it on though we mostly use 'Summer Breeze' and I've never noticed an unpleasant smell on the lantana. We put ours in the ground where they become lush and huge by August. (never need to deadhead them either)

  12. Yummy stuff here, Jodi. And of course you're making me pine for spring even more than I was already. I had bought some nemesia at Walmart this past summer that was pink and orange and sadly, I didn't keep up with watering it through our hot, dry summer and it died. But ohhhh, the colors! I'll try it again this summer, perhaps from seed.

  13. What, no coleus, Jodi ? It's the one annual I must have because it is absolutely carefree, colorful and lasts right up until the frost. It also makes a great houseplant.

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

  14. Happy New Year! I think you got hit by the same storm that got us on New Year's Eve. Now temps have plummeted to the single digits - yuck. I'd rather stay in & think about annuals. I have loved Diascia for years, but last year I read about 1 that is hardy to Zone 5, but I lost track of where I wrote down the name. I join you & Kim is despising Petunias but liking the Callibrachoas. I prefer the dark purple with the lemon throats. I might have to try Venidium this year; I've never grown it. After last summer's great performance, Osteospermum will definitely be making an encore in my containers.

  15. Up to now I could leave my agastaches outside and they survived. But this winter started with very cold temperatures, so I fear I'll miss them in Spring. Salvias, most sorts, are very delicate here. I like the plant but I failed several time to overwinter it. Petunias are typical annuals here in Switzerland (for decorating window boxes). The rest of your described plants I didn't have yet in my garden.

  16. You're using your downtime incredibly well, Jodi - I've only been gone a few weeks and you've written enough to fill a magazine - and with such fun posts, too. The definition of annuals and perennials may vary with our climates, but the flowers you've chosen would be lovely anywhere - especially those blues.

    Happy New Year and hope you'll fell better in 2008

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  17. Those African Daisies are really nice. Although African Daisies and 4 O'clocks are two seeds that I can't germinate for the life of me. So I'll just enjoy your pics.

  18. This is a late comment but you may get more since GGW provided a link today, Jan 21. Love your list and pix and your site looks great! The lantanas don't survive our winters but the black and blue does return each year, although it is later to emerge. Occasionally a callibrachoa winters over but looks ratty compared to the ones you can buy. I enjoy your blog very much and will be a frequent visitor. There are so many good reads anymore, it is hard to keep current!

    Frances at Faire Garden


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