August 17, 2011

Creativity with Cottage Garden Annuals

Zinnia 'Candy Mix' with Rudbeckia hirta and
Salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue'. August 2011
I love the freedom of growing annuals. While I can certainly sing accolades about specific perennials, annuals give me the chance to change the look of the garden—in spring, summer and fall as well as from year-to-year—by simply planting seeds or buying a few small pots.

Planting annuals is somewhat like playing with a box of crayons and cans of molding clay. I color the garden according to my latest taste in color schemes and shapes. I love the creativity and flexibility of changing the garden with annuals.

While I use annuals in my meadow gardens, it is the cottage garden where I have the most fun. Sitting on the front porch, I overlook the cottage garden and ponder many different ideas to try in the future. I get inspired and excited about what to grow next year!

A purple Persian Shield provides a dark background
for the delicate and pale yellow California Poppies. May 2011
Same Persian Shield. Poppies replaced by a container (out of rabbit reach) of
Gomphrena (and Million Bells in same purple, not seen). August 2011
Sweet Alyssum (white and fragrant) is the perfect
annual edger and ground cover. August 2011
Tall lilac, pink, dark purple spires of larkspur back up
the perennial daylilies and heliotrope.
In the mix, there are also pods of annual blue nigella and
blooms of bachelor's buttons. June 2011

Unfortunately, there was a casualty of recent rain storms. The huge castor bean "tree" planted against the stone chimney was beaten and broken. I ended up pulling the poor annual that had stood gloriously through the drought and high temps. Just as the red seed pods were ripening and beautiful, the plant, and all of the seeds are now gone. So easy to grow from seeds and such a great architectural annual, I'll reserve the chimney spot in 2012 for another castor bean. Next time, I'll put supports around the plant before the summer storms do their worst!

This 2011 castor bean was grown from the seeds
of the 2010 plant...that was grown from seeds
shared by Helen Yoest in 2009. July 2011
Every year, I experiment with different varieties of zinnias, marigolds and poppies. I try new colors of nigella, cornflowers and larkspur. I rearrange annuals every fall and spring, trying out various vignettes to suit my mood. There are many annuals that can be grown, but here are my personal favorites (links are to my blog stories about these favorites).

Grown from seeds sown in the fall:


Seeds sown in spring for summer blooms:


Annuals that I purchase as small plants:

  • Persian Shield
  • Gomphrena (used only in a container due to rabbits)
  • Million Bells (used only in container)
  • Cleome
  • Cosmos (rabbits eat young seedlings unless using the orange variety)


Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer and rabbit resistance varies based upon the animal population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.

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Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips by Freda Cameron

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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