Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Agony and the Ecstasy

I have a curious relationship with annuals. On the one hand, I don't like their lack of commitment. My garden is filled with perennials because I want plants I can trust to stick with me and be there year after year. On the other hand, annuals are a dalliance and chance to try new things, which is also good for keeping the garden vibrant and interesting.

From college until the time I owned a home, I gardened almost exclusively in containers. I filled these with annuals because I was never in one location for more than 12 consecutive months (standard lease agreement time). But since settling on one property I've neglected container gardening, getting lazier with it each passing year. This year has been the pinnacle of laziness, and I'm so disappointed with my lack of effort that I'm determined to improve next year.

So what does this have to do with annuals? It has resulted in a very short list of my best and worst annuals for the meme by Mr. McGregor's Daughter. Let's start with the best:

I've waxed poetic about this coleus for most of the summer now, and this plant's performance is the driving force behind my decision to improve my container gardening. I really should have used these beautiful foliage plants with other flowers to take advantage of their colors and textures. Instead, I plopped them all in this pot with my spearmint in the middle. At the very least I should have planted some of these in the garden beds. There's enough shade around here that they could have spiced up some dull areas!

(These neon leaves are a perfect example of what I like about annuals--something eye-catching and different from my general color scheme, but not something I'll have to look at for years.)

(Gasping for breath to left of the coleus is my spearmint.)

In another example of container laziness that has still managed to produce prettiness, here's my Spring Fling Supertunias, still going strong in a partly shady spot on my front patio.

(I know they supposedly don't need deadheading, but I still pick off the spent flowers. Except, not in this picture I guess...)

Now for the worst:

These are 'Velvet Queen' sunflowers that I had such high hopes for. I've failed at growing sunflowers before by sowing them in places that were too shady, so this past year I watched and planned and sowed these in the sunniest place I have. And thanks to a cloudy, rainy summer, I've got these lovely leaves and no sunflowers. I'm still hoping they'll make a miraculous comeback by late August, but I'm not holding my breath.

(Sunflower failure: is it the weather, the flowers, or me?)

That's part of what makes me dissatisfied with annuals: I don't have next year to enjoy some beautiful, deep-coral sunflowers, I'm just out of luck. But as hope springs eternal, I'm confident that next year I'll get around to planting some decent containers and improving my record with annuals. They embody the constant renewal and continual opportunities of the garden!


Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Thanks for participating! Are you intending to take cuttings of the Coleus to overwinter inside? I've been told it's very easy to do (not that I've managed to get one to overwinter). I stuffed my freebie Supertunia into a large container with Coleus & a purple Pennesetum. They do pretty well even when I forget to water them. Be patient with your Sunflowers. They may be (literally) late bloomers. Some Sunflowers don't start blooming until the end of August. I'd blame the weather for those, because the plants look strong & healthy.

Rose said...

Don't beat yourself up too much, Rose; it's hard to do it all! Since I really got into gardening, my goal has been to establish mostly perennials, so I've focused on that, too. Almost all my annuals are in containers, and each year it seems I buy another new pot, so there are more to fill each year. It's expensive to replace annuals each year; on the other hand, I like to have something different each summer, which I can do with annuals. I didn't even include coleus with my "best" list because I was saving it for another post, but I definitely agree with you on it--I love all the foliage varieties available.

Gail said...

Rose, It took me years before i was able to plant a container I liked! I hope the nicotiana sylvestris I'm using as my thriller is available next year! I don't take cuttings because I haven't a place to let them I have to get a few each year! My favorite annuals are any that will reseed! gail

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