March 15, 2010

annual must haves

A while back, we had a very nice little chat about perennials. It was fun to show a few photo's, and especially fun to hear everyone's favorites - I think peonies topped the most popular list. Perennials are truly wonderful. They come back every year, better than ever, and you buy them once and have them for ages. They are a delight.

Rarely, though, do you find one that will bloom all summer for you.

That's where annuals come in.

Most annuals, with a few exceptions, do their thing until frost. Gotta love that.

Here are a few of my very favorites, in alphabetical order.

Alphabetical order allows me to feel very official in a garden handbook, potentially annoying know-it-all, kind of way. It also lets me save the best (zinnias) for last.

So, lets get to it.

Anagallis (shown with geraniums, bacopa and yet to bloom verbena). This little beauty is fairly new to me. I've only used it in my pots for two years, and I'm in love. The color is a brilliant, gorgeous blue, quite possibly my favorite garden color ever.

It's a great filler. (Seen here with ivy geraniums, lobelia and bacopa.)

Okay, it's a great filler for about two and a half months, then things get a bit out of hand.

I'm all for any plant that's this enthusiastic, but it did become a bit of a hog by the end of the summer. All this from four little 2x2 pots. It definitely gets an "A" for effort, in an overachiever kind of way.

Cosmos. Bright, cheery, feathery and tough. And, they reseed like crazy.

Impatiens for shade. They look beautiful all the time, with no deadheading required. I'm not a huge fan of deadheading, so that moves these guys right to the top of my list.

Larkspur. This photo is from the Year of the Larkspur.

After a couple years of reseeding themselves, they went wild. They do have a limited life though, and when they were done and it came time to pull them out, my beds were bare. Now, I try to keep them in pretty small groups so their absence isn't felt so harshly in late summer, when they've gone to the big larkspur field in the sky.

Love, love larkspur. Does anyone it an annual version of delphinium? They sure look similar.

Marigolds. Who doesn't love a marigold. Actually, I didn't for the longest time. Their smell kind of bothered me, but they have grown on me over time, and now I gotta have em. This photo was in hot competition to be the sidebar picture for Meadowbrook Garden. I lost sleep over which one to pick. Did I make the right choice?

Petunias. Specifically, Supertunia Vista. This color is called Bubblegum.

This is one plant. If you look close, you'll see a sad little purple one of a different variety that just couldn't quite hold it's own. The supertunias are ridiculous. Insane. And, icing on the petunia cake, they don't need to be deadheaded, which is not always the case with other varieties.


So fun, because they reseed and come back very different from what they were the year before. You never know what you're going to get.

Okay, here we go. The best for last. The must have of all garden must haves. (For me, anyway!)


You will be so tired of hearing about zinnias before the summer's over. You'll be all, "enough already with the stinkin zinnias, lady!" Between the zinnias and Sunsugar tomatoes, you will think you are in the movie Groundhog Day, and that I just keep writing the same post over and over again. That's how much I love to talk about zinnias and Sunsugar tomatoes.

For today, I'll keep it fairly short.


My very, very favorite is the Magellan variety. They are compact and bloom like crazy. They fade beautifully, so you really can go quite a while before you have to deal with the old blooms. I probably only deadhead them three times during the summer. In fact, I took a picture of the spent blossoms, because they still looked so pretty.

I also love the taller State Fair mix, as well as the Dreamland variety. With a new greenhouse to play in, I am going to try pretty much any zinnia I can get my hands on. Should be fun! The only zinnia I am not totally in love with is Profusion. It is truly gorgeous, and I love the shape of the plant, but the flowers seem to fade quickly to a crispy brown, and I think we've pretty much established how I feel about deadheading. In fact, after writing this post, I am starting to feel the same way about the word deadheading, as I do about the actual process of deadheading, so it's probably time to call it a day.

Now, please humor me and tell me about your favorite annuals. I'm always looking for ideas. And if you have a favorite zinnia, I'd love it if you would share that too.


  1. Wow, love all the eye candy! Zinnias are my favorite annual, too! I love the rainbow of colors and how the butterflies flock to them! And how they are perfect cutting flowers & make long-lasting bouquets! I love zinnias so much that I chose them for my wedding flowers. Thanks for the trip through your garden--I'd love to stroll through it this summer! Oh, and one other favorite: glads! So striking!

  2. I will admit, aside from zinnias, I am not great with annuals, due to the amount of work having to plant them every. single. year. However...

    Your post has totally inspired me to at least try this year - I love your supertunia and pink is a favorite (I am thinking a couple of big pots near Mabel when she has her new pad built this may). I also love the cosmos and have wanted to plant them as they look so impressive when you really fill a space with them! Do they seed for the next year or just reseed in the current year? I am also going to try and find the anagalis as I like that it gets big - I can put a couple in some wine barrels in front of the barn and let it have at it!

    Thanks once again for your fabulous gardening post. It looks like it is going to be a lovely week here and I just might get out there and do some more work getting things ready!


  3. Dear lovely Teresa.
    I saved your perennial post to look at during those moments when I needed a few flowers on gloomy days. Now I have two posts to tide me over. Spring comes rather late in my neighborhood, and this is keeping me going!

  4. Oh I love your gorgeous garden! Beautiful! I know I will be coming back to look at this again. There's a little love for you on today's post if you get a chance to stop by.

  5. T~
    loved the springy post..
    I've had the urge..
    to start digging..
    but with snow..and rain..
    and temps in the 30s..
    I'll just enjoy gardening..
    through you..
    just a bit longer..
    then it' my turn to get dirty!
    warm hugs, laughing smiles..

  6. Love the bright colors! Need some color today. It's been raining here for 3 days.. ugh

  7. beautiful pictures :) So needed on another dreary day here. I can't wait to start "playing" in the gardens this spring! I only buy a few annuals, most of my gardens are perennials. I fill in with pansies, impatiens and I love zinnias and sunflowers.

  8. This is fantastic! We're building a house and I'm already more focused on what I want to plant than on what kind of flooring I want. I love the zinnias. Thank you!

  9. I love all of your favorites except marigolds so now you've convinced me to try them again. But, I must add sweet peas to the list. If you've never planted them, you need to give them a try. They make a beautiful bouquet and the smell is wonderful. You have to plant them from seed (I soak them overnight first)in early spring. I'm in northern Illinois so I plant them around april 1st. I've always been told to plant them on St. Patrick's Day and as a younger garden fool, I would head out with snow boots and move the snow over and plant them in the frozen dirt but as I got older and wiser, I've found that they can wait just a few weeks longer! But the secret is getting them planted early. They'll finish up about the time those beautiful zinnias come along. But you must do the naughty deadheading to keep them coming on, but they are so worth it. We're just finally seeing 50's temp and not time to clean up anything yet but you sure helped me get excited about what's to come!

    Nancy - anxiously waiting to get dirt under her nails.

  10. That bucket o'deadheaded blooms put that strange homesick feeling in my stomach when I saw it. Do you know the feeling I mean? It sounds like a bad feeling, but it's actually so good that it's...well, it's strange. But good.

    And who ever thought up "deadhead"? So gory.

    Would you believe - deadheading is one of my favorite things to do? I also love wedding. And plucking my eyebrows. All three activities satisfy a need deep within me.

  11. I love Zinnias! They remind me of my late grandfather. He always had a Zinnia garden and when he passed away, I've continued the tradition. They make perfect cutting flowers and last almost forever in quirky jars filled with water, brightening my home. I don't have a favorite variety, haven't really explored the differences. I'll have to try your suggestions sometime.

  12. Well, I will be one reader who will never get tired of hearing about your zinnias! I adore zinnias. I've been going on about them for the past couple of months already.
    I love hard working impatiens... I have one section of my yard that is all shady, so I plant those every year, in there with the hostas.
    I pot up a lot of geraniums and petunias for the deck, along with my herbs.

  13. All the ones you mentioned - except marigolds, they just aren't one of my favorites. And larkspurs don't grow that well here - too hot too early. But the rest I love! I also love nicotiana, heavenly blue morning glories, four o'clocks, hyacinth beans and moonflowers for climbing. Loved your pics!

  14. Your flowers are gorgeous! I'm really liking the look of the cosmos. And zinnias! I admit, I've never tried them but they look lovely. I've always hated petunias because they are just too much work, but I'll have to check into the supertunias. No deadheading sounds great to me. I have one bed that is pretty bare, just a tree and some mulch. I'm going to have to try out some of your favs.
    I love Alyssum. It is small and compact, not really much of a looker but it fills in and it smells divine.

  15. I don't plant annuals. There, I've said it (hanging head in shame). I guess it always felt like a waste of money to me and I just love perennials so. Then I read this post and my mind was changed. Now I'm thinking I know how you can earn your keep when you come visit the summer of 2011, right? ha! P.S. I think it's important that you know just how dumb I am. I thought larkspur and delphiniums were the same plant and that it just had 2 different names. So there. Now you know.

  16. WOW...this is really your yard?! I love it all...wish mine could look like that! I love the zinnas tooand I love the perrennials though. :D

  17. This post is wonderful! Oh how I long for Spring and Summer flowers. That lost shot, btw. Killing me it's so gorgeous!!

    Thank you for that little bit of summer. ;)

  18. Imagine me running around my yard like the Trix rabbit saying 'I'm zany for zinnias' and you'll have an accurate picture. They are perfection to me in every way. I grew a packet of scarlett zinnias one year, and it was the prettiest sight my eyes ever beheld....a big patch of deep red zinnias. Love them all. Want to roll nude in them, and I just might one year! Ha! I love all your annual choices. What about my favorite, Osteospermum? African Daisy I think it the common name. I can't go a summer without it. Annuals are awesome fillers, since perennials just don't last long, and I'm not creative enough to plan the garden out where they are all timed perfectly to give a constant show. In my garden analogy is this. Perennials are your meat and taters, but annuals are the spices you use. Get it? They give your garden flavor, and variety. Gotta have 'em! Ok....I'll stop now. :-D

  19. Gotta have my big, bright sunflowers. Instant happiness if the squirrels don't get them first. And does Coleus count? I know, no flowers, but the colors in the leaves- so gorgeous, gotta have them for the shade garden

  20. I live in an apartment, so no garden for me, but thanks so much for sharing pictures of yours so I can live vicariously! Your photos are BEAUTIFUL!

  21. I love talking flowers!

    Two annuals that I fought against for years but are now my FAVORITES and can't do without: impatinets and petunias. What was I thinking?

    If I had to pick two annuals and nothing else I would go with ZINNA's and Lakspur. Last year I tried a annual salvia and loved that. Much more of those to come this year.

    Also like the small dahlia (not really an annual but I never dig up the bulbs so their annuals to me)

    p.s. zinna talk! bring it on!

  22. Flowering tobacco (N. sylvestris) sweet alyssum, angel trumpets, (Datura meteloides), moonflowers, Grandpa Ott morning glories and four o'clocks make my garden happy. The mix of scents gives my porch a certain fragrance that my son tells me "smells like home." Most of the flowers are white, so they shine at night too.

  23. Painted lady runner beans-they are pretty, they climb, and they produce edible beans. It's a three-fer plant.

  24. Painted lady runner beans. They have gorgeous flowers, they climb and the beans are edible. They're going in my front yard this year.

  25. omgoodness. this is a beautiful blog showcasing your exquisite farm and photos. so glad i stopped by. i'm pretty sure you live in heaven:)

  26. I'm with you on the anagallis. They were very self sufficient for me which suits me just fine.
    As for the marigolds, I don't love them, but Dad always planted them as a border around the vegetable garden. He said that they kept to critters away (could be the odor, tee-hee). When I see marigolds I picture Dad working in his garden and that is a nice thought. Maybe this is the year for marigolds.

    I love your zinnias, all of them and another variety that I like is Envy (chartreuse).

    Your photos are ALWAYS so beautiful!

  27. Gorgeous gorgeous flowers! This post gives me unexplainable joy! Look out Cisco! =)

    I love Zinnas! and Lily varieties of all kinds! I Love lavender and my Keys of Heaven! Oh and Lilacs are a must in my garden!

    I am still learning to be a green thumb flower gardener! I need to follow you!! =)

  28. I have never tried Anagallis, but think I will try this year -- beautiful!
    My favorite shade annual is COLEUS. There is nothing more beautiful than their varied colors.
    I also love NASTURSIUM. They are easier to grow than weeds and fill in so beautifully. Plant 10 seeds in a clump and you practically have a bush.
    Thanks for sharing such beautiful pictures.

  29. Marigolds are actually a natural repellant for some bugs. That smells that drives you crazy, also drives the bugs away.

  30. Teresa, I am enjoying looking through your gardens. It's like looking at a garden magazine and I'm looking for ideas! I know it's too early for you but it's time to plant in az. When you are enjoying your flowers it will be 110 degrees here! I can plant most everything you have shown (except for impatients) but still my garden won't look as good as yours! What a beautiful wedding there will be in your meadowbrook garden!
    Hope all is well.

  31. when you deadhead a state fair mix and dreamland mix
    flower how long does it take to bloom again?

    and what would you say are the differences between the two?
    and which is more colorful?

  32. I love zinnias too, but they always do terrible for me, and every year, I tell myself not to be enticed by them again next year, and every year I try once more. Mine always get eaten by something, or else they get some kind of fungus! I would love to know their secret though! I LOVE my begonias!!! I plant a lot in planters, then I have lovely pinks all summer, that tolerate sun, shade, etc! AND you don't have to deadhead them!!! I also love Wave petunias, they don't have to be deadheaded either, and their pink is wonderful and cascading from my window boxes. Neither have I had good luck with moon flowers - going to have to keep trying! Would love to know what would be good to get started going in the house, right now, and that don't mind transplanting....... Anyway, now I am going to check out your perennials!!!

    Diane, from Michigan

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