October 28, 2009

Annuals in Autumn

There are annuals still blooming boldly in the garden, even after several light frosts. There are zinnias, ageratum, cosmos and marigolds that still look great. I don't think marigolds know when to stop. Besides that, they've never looked ragged.

Granted, the marigold seeds were sown the first two weeks in July so that there would be fall color.

There are autumn colors of yellow, gold, orange and red. If you think marigolds look too gaudy for summer, try them for autumn. The combination of the annual (in my zone) purple fountain grass with the tall marigolds works well enough that I may actually plan this combination again for next year.

Please don't ask me to identify the marigolds in my garden. I picked up packets at stores, ordered online and didn't take the time to document any of these. I faintly remember sowing seeds from a 'Crackerjack Mix' somewhere in the garden.

I never cared for marigolds until I planted them this year. Previously, my impression was a vision of straight rows of plantings outside commercial buildings.

I just scattered the seeds - literally and liberally - in any blank space available. I don't advise this. I definitely got carried away and there are still little marigold seedlings sprouting everywhere. Next year, there will be a little more order and attention to my marigold seed sowing. I've already ordered a packet of lemon yellow single blooms for next summer.

As for my favorite bloom shape, I prefer the single blooms of the French marigolds over the carnation type double blooms.

As for the bees and butterflies, they love all of the marigolds. The Monarch butterflies are particularly attracted to the single marigolds and big bumblebees love to sleep on the cushions of the double blooms. And for the late-arriving Monarch butterflies that have been showing up all fall - thank goodness for marigolds.

Some of the marigolds are short and some are very tall. They've exceeded my expectations for the common marigold. I'll no longer look down my perennial-loving nose at these common annuals. They've added plenty of punch and pizzaz in the garden for autumn.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Home garden; late October 2009
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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