Gardening With What You Have

Perennials And Annuals On The Want And Need List For 2018

Christine Froehlich 01/16/2018 Comments

Due to a badly sprained ankle and impossible winter weather, my recent activities have been confined to  the couch where I've whiled away mindless hours checking my emails, Facebook page and playing Words With Friends. So when a bunch of seed catalogues arrived in the mailbox the other day, I was more than ready to indulge in a little plant porn and get started on my list of wants and needs.


I devoured page after page of  eye candy before I remembered some of the plants I had admired in gardens I visited over the summer and a few I wanted more of. Flipping through garden photos on my phone kept me from going completely off the rails and reminded me of the two priorities I had for my front garden - more interesting perennials and some annuals I could use for bouquets. In an attempt to control myself, I divided my list into three categories.


Must have more:


This little beauty is at the top. I picked up Celosia 'Asian Garden', an All American Selections introduction at the GWA conference in Buffalo, NY in August. When I got home, I socked it into my fading front border and wished I had more. This hot little annual has some serious sizzle power, don't you think? Its compact size (about 30") and dense flowering habit are just right for a small garden like mine or the middle of any border. Likes it hot and dry, perfect for gardeners like me who can't keep up with watering.  


celosia asian gardens
Celosia 'Asian Gardens'


celosia in the garden



I scored Nicotiana sanderae 'Cranberry Isles'  from Siri's Magic Garden  in Ithaca, NY. In the past, I've not been lucky with nicotianas. The flowers fade quickly and look like someone blew their nose on them. And then they go to seed. I took a chance on this one anyway and was not disappointed. Tall (about 3') but not floppy, crowned with an abundance of pastel flowers that don't need deadheading and blooms all summer without going to seed. What more could you ask for? 


Nicotiana 'Cranberry Isles'


I grew these last summer - Zinnia 'Benary's Giant Purple' and 'Queen Lime'. In my book, you can't beat them in arrangements. These aren't your run of the mill zinnias.They're tall and sturdy (3-4'), produce  big bodacious blossoms that pump it out til frost and you can buy them in straight, mixed or variegated colors.  


benares giant rose
Zinnia 'Benary's Giant Purple'
lime zinnia
Zinnia 'Benary's Giant Lime'


Lusting After: Plants I saw in other gardens I visited


Strolling around other peoples gardens  is bound to give you a bad case of plant envy. My friend Sharon planted Zinnia 'Raspberry Lemonade' and I won't rest until I have it. The stunning pastel variegation is so sweet and delicate. Note to self -  start more flowers and vegetables from seed. "Choices are much broader when you grow it yourself," says Sharon, who grows many of her own annuals. She has a knack for combining annuals and perennials into soft color palettes that make me think of Impressionist paintings. 


Zinnia 'Raspberry Lemonade'


Inspired by her adventurous spirit, I added Zinnia 'Queeny Red Lime' to the list as I was scoping out the Select Seeds catalogue. I don't think you can have too many zinnias!


Zinnia 'Queeny Red Lime'


Phlox 'Intensia Blueberry' (a find from Wayside Garden Center in Macedon, NY) is a low growing annual phlox that lends a vibrant touch to the edge of a border. Sharon likes it because it blends in well with other things and has long lasting flowers. "It blooms early - deading helps to keep it from pooping out." she comments. 


Phlox 'Intensia Blueberry'


Getting back to those combinations - Sharon's garden was packed with some eat your heart out perennials  I'm longing to try.


Like this one, Scabiosa ochroleuca, a little white flowered perennial that's one of those connecting plants that fill out a border. You can see it here weaving its way through the bronze fennel. According to Sharon, it's delicate and airy, but tough. "It tends to make lots of little babies, I would be happy to share, assuming some survive the deep freeze this winter," she told me. If not, I'll try Digging Dog nursery, where she bought hers.


Scabiosa ochroleuca

After seeing Centranthus ruber (aka red valerian) going bonkers in gardens on a trip she took to England, Sharon bought a few at Wayside. In theory, it's a hardy perennial,but in her garden,she reports,"it limps along, possibly due to heavy clay soil". It attracts bees and butterflies like crazy, so she's being patient. My soil is lean and well-drained, and I'm determined to give it a shot.


ammi majus
Centranthus ruber 


I am a sucker for gold plants and of course, Lysimachia clethroides 'Heronswood Gold' (Plants Delights Nursery) got my attention. I was a little worried that it might be too much of a spreader, but Sharon assurred me that unlike other lysimachia varieties, this one is pretty well behaved. It will probably be happiest if it is sheltered from hot afternoon sun though. I have just the place for it.


Lysimachia clethroides 'Heronswood Gold'


Why haven't I planted this yet?


After all, Alium millenium, was chosen by the Perennial Plant Association as perennial plant for 2018. 

I saw it in the display gardens at Cornell Botanic Gardens this summer and reminded myself to buy a few. A striking plant, good late color and deer and rabbits don't eat it. What's not to like? 


alum millenium
Alium millenium


I like the way Sharon combined it in her garden with Carex flacca 'Blue Zinger' and Astrantia major 'Abbey Road'. Such a lovely combination of color and texture!


alium millenium


I've planted caster oil bean before, but none of that wowed me that much until I saw this baby in the Cornell display gardens. Stunning foliage, Rhus communis 'Carmencita' is one of several I came upon in the Select Seeds catalogue.


castor bean
Castor Bean 'Carmencita'


I hope I can restrain myself a little until I can get off this couch or I could do some serious damage to the credit card. And I haven't dug into the vegetable seed catalogues!


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