I can't think of a better way to provide a dramatic splash of living color than with the simple beauty of colorful annuals! I was honored this week to visit a lovely garden planted almost entirely with annual plants. Each year, Bill Kresge creates a garden from seed to bloom with spectacular results. Like most gardeners, he begins planning for the new garden season during the winter when he peruses the seed catalogs and places his seed orders. He begins sowing flats of seeds in early March, starting with pansies, and cares for them in an impressive greenhouse behind his home. Bill starts approximately 1,200 plants from seed each spring. Back in May, I toured his greenhouse and he showed me his seed-started techniques. I learned a lot.
|Bill's greenhouse when I visited in May|
|Some of the 100+ plants started this year.|
|Bill is never happier than when working in his greenhouse.|
What are annuals? --
Annuals are fun and flamboyant flowering and foliage plants that germinate, grow, flower, produce seed, and die -- all within a single growing season.
-- Lynn Adams, 100 Easy Annuals
-- Lynn Adams, 100 Easy Annuals
Perennials, on the other hand, live for three or more growing seasons and usually have a short blooming period. Bill does grow some perennials, which he also starts from seed. The three or four hibiscus plants of different colors at the front of the house are perennials that he grew from seed ten - twelve years ago.
|Hibiscus just beginning to bloom. The pink one is 'Disco Belle Raspberry'|
|Marigolds and zinnias are among the stars of this garden.|
|Marigold Targetes erecta 'Gardland Orange' and Marigold 'Lofty Lady'|
I must confess I do like the orange and yellow combination -- orange on its own, not so much. The Zinnia 'Zahara' series are impressively resistant to powdery mildew. I put them on my list for next year.
|Zinnia 'Double Zahara' and Zinnia 'Zahara Yellow'|
I fell in love the stunning rustic color of the coneflower 'Chim Chiminee.'
|Coneflower, Rudbeckia hirta 'Chim Chiminee'|
Near the front door, a bed of snapdragons gives a cheerful welcome. I admired the fulness of the plants -- my snapdragons don't branch like these. Bill advised me to pinch off the tops of the seedlings by as much as 1/3 to encourage branching. Great advice! I guess I've been too wimpy with my pinching off.
Nearby, the large angel's trumpet with white blooms is just one plant. Bill grew the single dahlias from seed, not tubers.
|Clockwise from top: Angel's trumpet Brugmansia, single dahlias, and Angelonia.|
I admired the non-climbing Morning Glory for it's pure cobalt blue petals and distinctive markings. Blue is a favorite color of mine in the garden and this beauty is another addition to my list for next year.
|Dwarf Morning Glory Convolvulus 'Royal Ensign'|
The foundation bed along the greenhouse contains an unusual annual chrysanthemum 'Primrose gem.' They have sweet primrose 'buttons' with a golden eye. Bill ordered the seeds from the Thompson and Morgan catalog 7 years ago. He sowed a portion each year and it is amazing that the seeds were still viable after so long. Unfortunately, he used the last of them this year. Thomson and Morgan, while still functioning in England, seem to have gone out of business here in the U.S.
|Chrysanthemum coronarium 'Primrose gem'|
There are lots of varieties of zinnias in the bed across from the greenhouse.
I needed to touch the velvety cockscomb in one of the foundation beds. I should grow this for my grandchildren who adore lambs ears for that reason. I added it to my list.
|Cockscomb celosia cristata|
Three more blue favorites of mine ...
|Dwarf pincushion flower Scabiosa columbaria 'Blue Note'|
The agastache was full of honey bees, but none would stay still long enough for me to photograph them.
|Hyssop Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'|
|Balloon Flower Platycodon grandiflorus 'Komanchi'|
|At last, I manage to take a photograph of one of the many bees in this garden.|
There are many advantages to growing annuals. Here are a few.
Annuals are ...
- long blooming, flowering early until the first frost.
- relatively inexpensive.
- easy to grow with the right site and soil preparation.
- temporary, so you can change your landscape every year.
- versatile with many sizes and colors.
In conclusion, annuals allow the gardener a chance to experiment with color, height, texture, and form. If you make a mistake it's only for one growing season -- my kind of flower.
Do you grow annuals in your garden?
I've shown only a small sampling of the variety of blooms in Bill's stunning garden and hardly did justice to it. My thanks to Bill and his wife Gale for sharing with me.
~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.