Monday, April 25, 2011

Plant a Riot of Annuals~

Electric Blue Salvia

Good Friday felt more like full blown summer than spring, and the parched countryside seemed depressingly stressed without rain. It had begun to feel like the savannas of Africa and last week the wheat began turning yellow at the ground while the shafts dipped their heads in mourning. And so the sound of distant thunder in the wee hours of Easter morning seemed truly an unexpected blessing ordained by God. Thankfully this year Easter was a complete wash-out and the misty rain which finally made a gentle entrance was appreciated by everyone… except small children who missed the egg hunts. We may also be thankful that our communities missed the storms with tornados and baseball-sized hail that devastated many of our neighboring states to the north and east.

For those new to gardening, there is nothing better than planning a flower garden of annuals which will provide riotous color all summer. And for visual interest it is important to remember to layer by height from the front to the back of the bed. Plan for low growing flowers to be at the front and gradually increase the height to give the visual feel of ‘movement‘. In an area which receives full sun, tiny low growing Rose Moss or Portulaca are both perfect in front, love it hot, require little care and will provide an ever-blooming cheerful spot of color all season. Behind them, perhaps plant the short variety of Marigolds; they do well in the heat and will also help with insect control as they are a natural pesticide. Next could come some intermediate Zinnias, and the new varieties have an amazing spectrum of colors. Medium height Cannas could provide a perfect backdrop and even though they bloom later in the season, in many varieties, the foliage is an interesting combination of greens and yellows which surpasses the flowers in interest and beauty.

Or perhaps plan a ‘theme garden’ this year using annuals. One year on a whim, we had a South American themed garden and filled the kidney shaped bed on the upper level solely with flowers that had a Mexican flair and would attract butterflies. It seems flowers originating in South America have the brightest and deepest colors, the easy habit of drought survival and they all seem to shout Fiesta! We planted Mexican heather, red and yellow Nastursums, deep purple Petunias, scarlet red Chile Pepper Scabiosa, electric blue Salvia, scarlet and deep yellow swirl Zinnias, and anything else we could find that seemed fun. Everything was planted too closely and all with contrasting colors adjacent to each other. The result was intermingling of colors spilling out and over the bed in a riot of color by mid summer. Everyone who saw it had a giggle… it was so over the top. Since annuals are not true garden guests, merely tourists passing through who last but one season, there are few rules in planting them. Allow the imagination to run rampant!

*Since we finally had a rain… perhaps the morels have decided to make an appearance!

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