Monday, June 27, 2011

Annuals: To Plant or Not To Plant, That Is The Question

Lobelia erinus (Blue Cascade) & Calibrachoa hybrid (Yellow) Posted by Picasa

"To analyze the charms of flowers is like dissecting music; it is one of those things which it is far better to enjoy, than to attempt to fully understand." ~ Henry T. Tuckerman.
I have never been a real fan of annuals; those flowers that do not survive the cooler zones of winter. I've never loved the cycle that the yard guy does in the front beds... spring brings the impatiens or vincas and fall brings the pansies. For one thing, the impatiens don't really love the sun that much and they don't seem to spread well. In Mississippi, our house had quite a few trees which made growing a good lawn a problem (St. Augustine was almost the only grass to grow under those pines), but the impatiens grew and spread, sometimes to three feet tall and a few plants would fill an entire square bed, hiding the boxwoods. Not here. They don't really start filling out -- if they survive the heat and my antipathy towards them -- until September or October when it finally begins to cool off and at their height of blooming, the yard guy comes along and rudely pulls them up. He replaces them with pansies. Now, I love pansies much more than the impatiens; still, while pansies may bloom her in winter, they are wimpy. They really don't like the cold that comes with snow and spend much of the winter looking wilted or frost bit. It really is the spring... usually here this includes late February and March, perhaps into April... where they are at their best. I have managed to nurse a few along in a pot on the deck, but now in June, even these are on their last leg and wobbling. In the front beds, the pansies only start looking really good and trying to spread when March gets here. And again, at the height of their beauty, they are snatched up and replaced in May. The endless cycle. It seems wrong. And so this is why I seldom plant annuals... at least knowingly.

When Stephen was here, he found this hanging basket of bright yellow million bells (I think a petunia relative), blue lobelia and (not pictured) red flowers (the name escapes me.. this happens more and more with each passing year.. though I doubt I ever knew the name of the red flowers). They are all annuals and won't make it until next summer, but I have to admit they are beautiful. Downside... must be watered every day and I mean, everyday. You cannot be two hours late before they start to wilt. It must be something about the planter they are in because I have a homemade basket of million bells and petunias that is not this sensitive.

I love to see the plants and don't mind pruning back or deadheading (except tickweed which is tedious), but I really like to plant only once and then watch as the little shoots and stems poke through the ground in spring again. I tend to look like a giant mudball when planting, not my favorite thing to be. So I tend to plant perennials. However, this year the monarch and black swallowtail have been slower to show up and my fennel is six feet tall, just waiting for some caterpillars and the milkweed overfloweth and the bees of all types are having orgies in the bee balm and lavender and agastache. So where are they? On the annuals. On this plant.

Black Swallowtail with red... verbena?

Perhaps I SHOULD plant a few more annuals... sigh.

(end of post)
Mellow Yellow Monday
Ruby Tuesday


Sandra Hangey said...

woweeeee on the yellow million bells, gorgeous. but OMG on the butterfly photo. ab so lute ly STUNNING

Ginny Hartzler said...

Absolutely beautiful!! We like perennials, too, but it seems like we just plant wildflowers every year.

lesley said...

I would love to plant only once and then wait for the shoots to poke through the ground... but I only have a terrace. I also don't really care whether I chose annuals or perennials for the pots, so long as they are not too expensive, suits the sun and look beautiful.
Love your butterfly shot!

Robin Epstein said...

As a gardener I've got the black finger of death so I'm of no help there but I do know images and these are really lovely.


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Leora said...

Oh, these are stunning.  I like both perennials and annuals. 

Patti Villers said...

Beautiful flowers. I have mostly perennials these days, but I do like both. I haven't planted any annuals (yet) this summer.

The butterfly shot is wonderful!

chubskulit said...

Beautiful post  to start the week!

Would you mind peeking at my Mellow Yellow?  Have a great week ahead.

Liz said...

These are lovely!

My entries:
Moms...Check Nyo

Kenju said...

I prefer the perennials too, but annuals can't be beat for color and looks, mostly. I shouldn't admit this, but I bought nothing this year and planted nothing. It got so hot so quickly that I felt it would be a waste of money.