Monday, November 20

2006 Annual Review - Part 1 (Background)

I put in a lot of smaller perennials and shrubs in the fall of 2005, mainly good deals from a local garden center that was going out of business. Like a good gardener, I dutifully planted at the proper distance, ignoring the fact that some of the plants looked quite forlorn and stranded that way.

The more I looked at the new plantings, the more apparent it became that there was plenty of room for annuals in the garden. I had lots of temporary spaces to fill.

My resolution to add annuals this year left me with a little trepidation. I had always put together some wacky combination of annuals in a planter or two on the porch, but mostly shied away from using annuals in the garden beds.

See, designing a garden with herbs and veggies is exceedingly easy in one respect: Anything you do to make it look less like a farm and more like a landscaped bed is a huge achievement in the eyes of the general public. Most people think of those things as mere edibles, so showcasing their ornamental qualities proves you're clever.

Including unusual perennials like digitalis parviflora, aruncus sinensis, actaea/cimicifuga, tiarella cordifolia, and crambe maritima in your garden keeps you pretty safe from criticism, too. People cannot identify that that you're growing, so they assume that you must know what you're doing. (Even if you rip out an entire bed later that year because you decide that the sea kale is too insipid next to golden foliage without anything darker nearby... but that's a whole other post!)

When you step into the wonderful world of annuals, though, you're treading on thin ground. Everyone and their brother knows what marigolds, sunflowers, begonias and even coleus are... and, worse, they all have their own ideas about how these plants should be used by good gardeners.

I clearly needed to do some homework in this area, so each time we went to the bookstore I made a point of leafing through books and magazines devoted to the use of annuals and color in the garden. There were some great ideas in these resources, but mostly I yawned at the overused combinations, the old standby annual plants, etc.

It was probably mid January when I decided that if I was going to do annuals in the garden, I was really going to DO annuals in the garden. I resolved to use big annuals. Colorful annuals. Things I never would have grown in my old garden for fear of the "jungle" jokes and raised eyebrows they would undoubtedly earn from my former husband. And then the real research--and fun--began!

To be continued...


Colleen Vanderlinden said...

Ooh--I am looking forward to reading the rest of this! Again, we're an awful lot alike--annuals in pots on the porch, and that's about it. I want to give my garden that full, lush look next year, and I know annuals will be the way to go. Can't wait to see the next installment!

Anonymous said...

I was out in my garden, sticking Easter Peeps to branches, when I thought, hey, I should go read an inspiring blog about annuals...!

So here i am, sticky fingers and all~
Actually, I'm quite impressed that you noticed the other plantings were starting to look stranded~ I don't think I would notice it till I looked at the blurry photos...

Idaho Gardener said...

Love that purple, silver/gray, lime green combo. One of my all time faves.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Idaho Gardener said...

and thanks for the comment about the pear pollinators. I don't know much about fruit trees so that really helps.


Kasmira said...

What? You're leaving us hanging? I'll be back...

Annie in Austin said...

You will get no raised eyebrows from your readers - we prefer our "Kim - Unleashed!" and are glad you fear no plant.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Unknown said...

Colleen, the post was getting to be too long even for me! lol. I had to quit there and will resume my thoughts in a day or two. :)

Christine, LOL! Oh, and I'll happily confess... I should have said the more I looked at the pictures of the new plantings all winter, the more I realized they looked lonely!

Idaho Gardener, Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. :) I didn't know about pear pollinators, either, until I wondered why I got nothing on my Bartlett pear tree this year. *sigh*

Kasmira, I'm too long-winded for my own good. I had to break it up into smaller chunks... lol.

Annie, thank you. :) I like that Kim better, too--I am still trying to keep her from hiding back behind the rhododendron some days, though, believe me!

Anonymous said...

Tell me you didn't let "ordinariness" prevent you from planting marigolds.

Go for the exotics of course but don't forsake the tried and true.

(Your photos are beautiful.... love mix of shapes.)

Unknown said...

Clerk, no, I didn't let ordinariness prevent me from planting marigolds... I let biting off more than I could chew, garden-wise, prevent me from planting marigolds! :( I do plan to rectify that oversight this spring, though, with some "lemon-scented" ones that I bought last winter.

Anonymous said...

Blackie, is that a photo of your eyeball?
I want to see more of your eyeballs!

lisa said...

I admire your courage mixing annuals in beds...I'm always afraid I will irreperably damage the roots of a nearby perennial, so I keep my annuals in containers.
Would that be considered "Plantdisturbophobia"? hahahahaha! (Ahem....sorry ;)

Kathy said...

Annuals for Connoisseurs by Wayne Winterrowd has an interesting selection of unusual annuals. You might want to check it out over the winter.

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