I Cheated with Annuals

Celoisa 'Fresh Look Gold'

MY NEW PLANTING BEDS – the ones at the front of my property, that started out last fall as piles of dead oak leaves, supplemented by topsoil and compost – are now almost as green as they are brown, with lots of perennials transplanted from upstate, a few purchases, and donations from friends. Those perennials —  salvia, astilbe, catmint, ladies mantle, ligularia, and irises — aren’t blooming yet, and probably won’t put on much of a show this year. Hence all the green. Foliage, but no flowers.

I wanted flowers and I wanted them now. What to do? Hmm, I mused…if only there was a way to get flowers right away. Then it hit me: there is! Annuals!!!

Marigold 'Sweet Cream'

It might seem self-evident to you, but I had never done much with annuals, except window boxes and containers. Putting annuals in the ground always seemed like cheating. I was a perennials snob. Annuals are common. And stiff. The stuff of Victorian ‘bedding schemes.’

But this year, I didn’t care. So – having lit upon this annuals notion, I took myself to Agway in Bridgehampton, where the flats are $16 (that passes for cheap here in the Humptons), and I bought myself a half-dozen flats of some rather pedestrian annuals, sticking to a refined palette of white, yellow, and purple. Of course, they had to be deer-resistant and shade tolerant, except for some marigolds for the sunniest area (at least it was sunny before the oak trees leafed out this week).

Dusty Miller 'Silverdust'

Here’s what I got:

Begonia Bada Boom – bronze foliage, white flowers
Ageratum Hawaii Blue – commonest of the common, but I’ll give them a chance
Celosia Fresh Look Gold – I’m excited about these – chartreuse foliage, yellow plumes, and they grow tall
Marigold Sweet Cream – big off-white flowers
Marigold Durango Yellow
Dusty Miller Silverdust – these may be perennials here

And I couldn’t resist some Ipomoea – sweet potato vine. Remember when these became popular about 10 years back? There were just a couple of types, and they were always so satisfying as ‘spillers’ in pots and window boxes. The other day, I saw many variations, all from Proven Winners, from bronze to purple to yellowish green, with leaves of different shapes. I bought several, and put them in the beds as groundcovers, which I’ve never tried.

Ageratum 'Hawaii Blue'

As I was planting this morning, I tried to weave the little cell-pack annuals in and out naturalistically, rather than lining them up in rows like some, you know, Victorian bedding scheme.

Photos to follow when they fill out a little. Oh – I’ll need more. I ran a bit short. Since my Agway excursion, I checked out Wittendale’s in East Hampton which, though more expensive ($20/flat), has a more interesting, extensive selection. Can’t wait!

Are you doing annuals this year?

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
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4 Responses to I Cheated with Annuals

  1. Terry says:

    Well duh. Put them in pot and move them around. Our sweet potato vine is already hogging the view. We demoting it to another location.

  2. fran says:

    rest assured that annuals aren’t cheating. they complement the garden in a very important way- adding consistent color and bloom while the perennials come and go. i always mix them in with the vegetables and perennials and like them for their hardiness and also for cutting. sounds like you’re on the right (garden) path sista!

  3. Coppermaven says:

    Of course annuals! Gotta have those 6 varieties of coleus and waves of impatiens bridging the color scheme. I also bought some exotic begonias form the Brooklyn Botanic Garden sale. I’ll let you know how they do. Any one want the salmon impatiens that I can’t find a place for?

  4. Debbi says:

    I love annuals. They add so much to a perennial garden. They are great also if you don’t live in a permanent place (like an apartment). They are almost instant color and take a lot less time to mature than perennials. I am planting as many as I can afford this year!

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