25 June 2013

New Under the Gardening Sun, Part 2: Awesome Annuals

I have a good excuse for why I haven't posted recently--I've been too busy planting containers, planting perennials, making a garden area, reclaiming other spots...dirt under my fingernails, soil in my shoes, I'm a happy camper. But now, to have a little chat about some of the annuals that have turned my head this season--so far. 
 Let's kick off with one of my hands-down favourite annuals, Lantana. I love the way its individual florets change colour as they go from buds to open blossoms on each flower head. They're like a little rainbow of pinks, oranges, reds, yellows and inbetween shades. Someone had fun naming this one, from the Santana series: it's called Banana Punch. Sounds like a Doctor Suess plant; Santana Lantana Banana! Or maybe, like a song sung by Minions...?

 And from the Bandana series, here's 'Bandana Peach', which has softer shades than some of the varieties. I am liking it a lot.
 Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus) has been around for a number of years, but it's been glommed onto by one of the big plant breeders, which may be a good thing, making it more available. This variety is called 'Choca Mocha', and it is fragrant as all get out (yes, it does smell like chocolate!). I have half a dozen of these in containers around my deck so I can always smell them.
From the nice people at Hort Couture plants we have 'Midnight Blackie' fuchsia, which I love for its strongly contrasting blooms. It's now in a planter with Euphorbia Bling Pink Princess and a salvia I'll show you shortly, and it looks terrific. 
 Speaking of Doctor Suess plants, here's a good candidate for such a garden: Leonitis leonuris, also known as Wild Dagga or Lion's tail. It is in the Mint (Lamiaceae) family, and reminds me of agastache in its fragrant foliage. Pollinators love it, and it makes me chortle when I look at it. Apparently there is a white form, too, but I prefer strong colours in my plantings so orange it is.
 Another fragrant charmer is the easy to grow annual alyssum 'Lavender Stream'. It is delightfully scented, and I'm seeing lots of bees around it in my plantings. I have another alyssum with white flowers and variegated foliage which is also performing beautifully. These newer ones are supposed to bloom well without deadheading, but I like to shear them back a little to keep them bushy.
 Ah, coleus, I do love thee. These aren't our grandmother's somewhat boring coleuses--these are funky of colour and leaf form. From the Under the Sea series from Hort Couture, this is 'Little Shrimp.'
 I am very fond of nemesias, which do very well provided they are deadheaded and sheared back to keep them bushy and pushing new flowers. This variety is called 'Sky Blue', and I thought it might be fragrant like 'Opal Innocence', my alltime favourite, but it isn't. It's forgiven that lack of scent, however, because it has such lovely colouring.
 This is a planter done specifically for pollinators, with a double-flowered callibrachoa, hummingbird mint 'Acapulco Salmon & Pink', and Nemesia 'Sunsatia Cranberry'. The hummingbirds have started to find it!
 Another relative of agastache and leonitis is salvia, of which there are many annual and many perennial varieties. This is an annual called 'Wendy's Wish' that is spectacular--huge, hot-pink  tubular flowers on burgundy stems. I can't remember if it has scent or not, and I'm not going to trip outside in the dark to find out.
Another agastache, this one called (appropriately) 'Acapulco Yellow and Pink'. I don't find it as fragrant as Salmon and Pink, but I do love the colour combination. 
 I used to not love begonias very much, because their flowers looked plastic to me, or they resembled roses except lacking in any scent. Then the Nonstop series seduced me with their huge flowers and colourful foliage, and this year I'm branching out to other varieties. This one is called Sherbet Bonbon, and while the flowers aren't as huge as the Nonstops, they are incredibly prolific in numbers. I am growing this plant by itself in a clay pot and love the way it is filling out.
 Now that I am away from the fog and the cold clay, I hope to have more lavenders around my garden. This is actually an annual lavender here, hardy to only about zone 8--Lavender 'Spanish Eyes', a fern-leafed form with lovely flower spikes. They aren't as fragrant as our perennial lavenders, but they are strikingly attractive, don't you think?
 A few years ago, plant breeders came out with some lobelias that are tolerant of heat, and that was a great joy to me. There is the Laguna series, and the Technoheat series, of which this photo shows both blue and white Technoheat varieties. They don't melt down in mid July like the old seeded varieties, but hold their own nicely well into autumn. They have bigger flowers too, just not as many colours as the old forms--so far.
Sometimes plant breeders are a little excitable and hyperbole-laden in their descriptions of new varieties. I'm not sure that I would call this Verbena from the Lanai series 'Lime Green', but there is definitely green tints in the flowers, especially their edges and centres. This is my photo and isn't Photoshopped, unlike some I've seen online. I have always had a fascination for green flowers, and got my greedy little paws on the perennial primula 'Francesca' a couple of weeks ago. This verbena is very floriferous in its container, and I hope to see it around for years to come. I have several other new-ish varieties, but I can't remember their names so they'll have to wait til next time!


  1. Good Morning Jodi,

    Help, help, help,,,, Can you tell me the best way to get rid of the green goutweed. I have removed all the plants I want to save. but,, don't know what to do next. People have told me Roundup but,, of course we can not buy that here. What else can I do????

    Thank you for any advise you can give me.

    Cheers Ann McGregor

    1. There is no easy answer, Ann. Seriously. Do NOT let it flower, for starters, and that will help to slow its rapacious advances. Keep cutting it off to the ground, as much as possible--mow it, whippersnip it, cut it with grass shears, whatever you can do to keep it starving. If this is an area where you can cover the ground, put down heavy black plastic, like the kind farmers use for silage, and leave it there for at least a year, or longer. If you can't get black plastic, get clear plastic and solarize the goutweed (fry it under the plastic. But you have to leave it down for at least a year lest it gain strength.
      And by the way--Roundup will slow it down but will NOT take it all out. The problem is those underground stems, which don't take in enough of the chemical to kill it off completely. Good luck, Ann. I feel your pain.

  2. I usually don't plant annuals, but this year I planted more than 20 containers. I am surprised by how much I am enjoying the completely different gardening experience of containers. Lantana is a MUST it just keeps on going and is so delicate a contrast to the geraniums. Thank you for giving me the names of some of the other annuals I have in pots.

    1. I love container plantings, and have quite a few of them--that's the only way I do annuals, is in planters. I love the changeability of them, and the huge variety of plants we can play with. I am glad to hear you love lantana too!

  3. Nice pot planting Jodi! Nice to have some for the hummers! You reminded me of one that I forgot about so going to pick it up today...if I can find it that is...maybe out at Glad Gardens...one of my fav. nurserys in this area for sure! Happy 'new' gardening!

  4. I've never seen a fuchsia like this one! It looks very interesting!

  5. Great choices! I love Lantana, too. I just discovered it last year during a trip to New Orleans. It's a great annual here and a perennial (apparently somewhat invasive) down there. Plus, the butterflies love it, too!


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