Monday, September 1, 2008


Much as I love perennials which return year after year, this time of year I wouldn't be without my annuals, those plants which, although I have to plant them every year, grace my garden with color for several months with virtually no care at all past planting the seeds.
This first is a red leaf Castor Bean. Not much as a flower, but it is large with wonderful leaves. I have always collected the seeds to start in the greenhouse for plants to set out after frost, but this past year I kind of spaced it out and forgot to save any. To my surprise, where one of the plants was growing last summer a small forest of baby castor bean plants appeared this spring. I dug a lot and transplanted them all over the place. It it said that they repel moles, and we certainly need to do that around here, so I figure anything this pretty that also serves some useful purpose will always have a place in my garden.

There aren't all that many blue annuals that are really blue. Nigella, also known as Love in a Mist, also comes in a darker shade plus white. This one will self seed pretty reliably, though mine sort of ran out where it used to grow. I think it got too shady there. I replanted it in 2 places this year and am hoping it likes its home and returns for many years to come. It is a good cut flower.
I first grew nasturtiums when I was just 5 or 6 years old. At our school our only fundraiser each year was to sell flower seeds in the spring. I don't think I ever actually went out and sold any, just made my mother buy them all so we could plant then. There were 15 or 20 flowers plus radished and lettuce. I don't remember ever really getting any good lettuce, but I ate lots of radishes. One of the first ones I remember planting by myself were the nasturtium seeds, probably because they are so big. The packets now suggest soaking them overnight to speed germination. I've done it with and without soaking and don't notice all that much difference. The ones I have planted this year are just wonderful, even though the leaves have been attacked by something. There are so many flowers you don't even really notice that the leaves are less than perfect since they are pretty much covered up.

I started calendulas here the first summer after I moved here. It was a mixture called 'Art Shades' which ranged from cream through yellow through orange and anything in between. They self seed so I've never planted any more. Actually some years I have to thin them because they have gotten to be too much in the tree peony bed. After all these years I don't have many different colors any more, just the ones you see below which are more like the species.

This is a wonderful begonia called 'Charm'. It is not one I grow from seed, and am not sure it would come true from seed anyway. I make some cuttings in late summer and grow them either in the house or the greenhouse over the winter. In spring they usually have become a bit leggy and I make a lot of trimmings to root, either in water or with rooting hormone in individual pots of soil, and then I set them out after frost when it gets pretty warm. They do brighten up a border.

I don't remember planting this Amaranth, but it has been in its place near a pond for the last 3 years. I did have a multicolored one in another place in the garden once, so I suspect a bird or beastie planted this one for me. It is not too large and a nice contrast to the Salvia 'Argentia' growing behind it.

Although not pictured, I also have a patch of zinnias and marigolds, two others I always have growing here. I love being able to always have a vase of flowers on the table or on the kitchen windowsill, so depending on perennials this time of years would make that difficult. Tomorrow, the Nicotianas, a whole group of annuals which call my garden home, growing pretty much just where they please.

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