There is something magical about ‘traditional gardens’ which means are seventy percent perennials and thirty percent annuals. The perennials include heirloom flowers, which are a favorite among gardeners simply for their steadfast qualities; they are the old friends who return each year as faithful favorites. The Hollyhocks, Cannas, varieties of Sedum, Saliva, Mums, acclimated Petunias, and Lilies are prevalent.
Traditional gardens have a darling smattering of annuals to add seasonal zest, and also include the latest hybrids; the new yellow and purple-striped Petunia is fantastic. The annuals include Cosmos, Marigolds, Mexican Heather, Zinnias, and variegated Vinca all of which will explode in a cascade of show stopping color beginning in mid-July. With the combination of perennials and the annuals, even when the flowering is over for one, a neighboring plant is bursting forth with blooms. The flow of the gardens is an amazing stream of green punctuated with color.
The darling Petunia is a constant staple in all gardens. Originally from Argentina and Brazil, they love a hot climate and will provide continual color in the garden until frost. The varieties are endless from the traditional tiny pale pink of your Grandmother’s garden to the new giant grandiflora or cascading, all of which are available and it is not too late to plant them. The only care required for Petunias is an occasional deadheading to assure continuous blooming and a good soaking of water several times a week during any heat wave.
The Cannas have begun to bloom as well. Typically arriving in hot red, orange, yellow, or combinations of the three, hybrids have produced a dazzling array of colors and heights for this exotic and exquisite species. They are natural pollinators and attract both hummingbirds and butterflies making them a welcome addition to every garden. An additional plus is the fact they will bloom faithfully left undisturbed for many, many carefree years.
Of note is the underground rhizome which contains the largest starch particles of any plant, allowing its agricultural use. Its leaves may be made into paper, its stem fiber is equivalent to jute, its seed provides a lovely natural purple dye. It is just another of Nature’s miraculous plants that we may enjoy.
As the days become hot and too humid, plan of taking a ride in the air-conditioned car to drive about to look for gardens. Often we have stopped at a strangers home and rung their doorbell while introducing ourselves and complimenting them on their efforts. We are always met with their delight and usually leave with an envelope of seeds from their garden. My garden is full of such flowers… and each time I see them I am reminded of their origin.