ANNUALS - PERENNIALS - LILIES
I grow two types of annuals-ones I start from seed, and also specialty annuals, that I bring in as small plugs and grow on. A lot of my seeded flowers are edible, such as pansies and nasturtiums. It's great fun to order from catalogs, saying hello to new varieties and re-order seeds of old friends. Because I have limited space, I try to grow flowers that you will not find at other stores-unusual flowers like cupcake cosmos, lemon gem marigolds, sunflowers and more. I also grow a few vines, such as Scarlet Runner Beans.
Specialty annuals are plants that are grown from cuttings and do not set seeds. They are bred to be high performers. With plenty of fertilizer, they grow like crazy all summer without deadheading (although many look better with a bit of grooming). They are more costly because they are patented and I have to bring in little starts and grow them into 4" pots and larger. They are perfect for hanging baskets, window boxes, planters, combination pots and even in the ground. My favorites are petunias. They do so well here and the bright flowers are getting more fun every year. Some petunias trail like Waves, and some are more upright. I will also have calibrachoas (million bells) and lobelia. Here are some of the ones I have ordered. If you click on one of the pictures, it will open the gallery and you can then click the right arrow to see bigger pictures of the group. (There are two groups here). The last two are combo pots, with three plants in each pot.
Perennials are nice in the landscape because they come back year after year. Many perennials have a season of bloom. There is sort of a progression in the garden-bulbs in early spring followed by early bloomers like bleeding heart and foxgloves, then delphiniums and daylilies in midsummer and rudbeckias in late summer. Some, like gaillardia, will keep on blooming, but generally need deadheading to look their best. Others, like Shasta Daisies, will bloom for a longer period if deadheaded. Some can just be cut to the ground after bloom and will grow back to bloom again, like perennial bachelor's buttons. I also love adding lilies and irises to my perennial bed. Scoll down to see that section. Many people want something in bloom all summer. I suggest staggering bloom times and filling the spaces between perennials with annuals. Bulbs like tulips can be covered with pansies or other annuals, and snapdragons and other annuals are good fillers and a nice companion for bouquets. Wave petunias also make nice edgings.
I have all kinds of perennials, just a few of which are listed here. Mostly I grow sun perennials, but there are a few for shade. At the nursery you will find all sorts of wonderful odds and ends. Some never make it to the Farmers' Market, so it's worth a visit to check what we have. I have more time to help you if you make an appointment and come after regular hours end (after mid June)
Hint: Most people only buy perennials when they are blooming, but if you can use your imagination (I try to have picture signs on most of my plants), you will find a much larger variety available to you. And when you plant flowers, remember they love to be fed, so make the soil nice and fertile with a fertilizer high in Phosphorus, (the middle number in N-P-K). Bone meal is a nice extra addition to the planting hole. I am adding a section on natural fertilzers on the FAQ page.
OT Hybrid 'Conca d'Or'
Lilies are so wonderful in the garden! These hardy lilies will come back and multiply year after year. All these lilies would appreciate planting in soil with good drainage and some high phosphorus fertilzer. Every few years you can divide the clumps. They do better if you don't allow perennials to take them over. Let them have a little space. Tuck the OTs into the back of borders and the taller Asiatics and Orientals in the middle of the border. I love all of them for cut flower bouquets.
Asiatic Hybrids bloom in late June, and although not fragrant, they have fun and bright colors. Growing between 2-4' tall, they are wonderful for cut flowers. Be sure to leave 2/3 of the stem to feed the bulb. They bloom at the same time as baby's breath so you have an instant bouquet!
OT Hybrids, also referred to as Tree Lilies, are Oriental and Trumpet lilies crossed. They bridge the bloom gap between Asiatics and Orientals, blooming in late July. They are wonderfully fragrant and some are very tall, up to six feet. Many make lots of medium sized flowers on each stem, which increases with age and size of the bulb.
Oriental Hybrids are the latest, blooming in August. Their large flowers are very fragrant and come mostly in shades of white, pink or pale yellow. Stargazer is the most famous of this type, but we have ordered a mix, so there will be many interesting flowers to try.