Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Annuals for the Cottage Garden

Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun', Verbena bonariensis, and
Cleome hassleriana 'Rose Queen'

About a year ago, we erected a post at the entrance to our driveway displaying the number of our house. Like other residences in the county, we were assigned a new number to make it easier for police, fire, and ambulance services to locate our home in an emergency. Previously we had a rural route address that was confusing, to say the least, especially with the enormous increase in the population of the area. Always thinking of his feathered friends, H.H. added a bird house to the back of the post and a bluebird quickly took up residence. County law mandated the exact location of the post on our property and I thought it looked a bit lost at the corner of the large lawn.

I am not showing the house number which faces the road.

I set about "improving" the appearance of the house-number post by adding a rock and some plants. The rock had a natural dent in it so I filled it with soil and planted stonecrop there.

Eventually, I planted the sedum 'autumn glory' and the liriope in the ground, but it was a very small grouping in that large grassy setting. During the winter, as I made plans for the next garden season, I decided to make a flower bed behind the sign. It was mandated that I could not plant in front of the post, so I designed a bed behind it. The new garden is more or less triangular in shape and approximately 40 square feet in size. I prepared the plot using the 'lasagna' method, layering newspaper, mushroom compost, peatmoss, and topsoil. Click here to read more about my lasagna gardens. I edged the bed with rocks from the stone rows that border our fields, leaving the large 'sedum-planted' rock in place.

The fun part was deciding what to plant. I wanted a garden with plants that bloom from June to October, and that could be used for cutting. I decided annuals best meet the blooming-time requirement. I grow zinnias from seed every year, so that was an easy choice and I added cleome, globe amaranth, and gloriosa daisy.

This is my 'before' picture. The photo at the end of the posting shows the 'after'.
I added a small statue.
Cleome, Zinnia 'Zowie! Yellow Flame', and globe amaranth
Gomphrena globosa 'QIS Purple' Globe Amaranth
The Globe Amaranth has violet colored clover-like blooms that are very attractive to bees and butterflies. They are very tolerant of heat and humidity and don't need special growing requirements. Gomphrena means "everlasting" in Latin and these flowers are wonderful in dried arrangements. The plant is believed to have medicinal qualities.

Globe amaranth
'Zowie! Yellow Flame' is the first semi-tall zinnia with a unique bicolor pattern. Each bloom flames with a scarlet-rose center and yellow petal edges. There is no other zinnia with this fiery design. In addition, this bicolor pattern is consistent from one plant to another. As expected, there are more desirable traits from 'Zowie! Yellow Flame.' Gardeners will be glad to learn 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' is easy to grow from seed, young bedding plants or flowering potted plants. 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' will prove its long flowering season with dazzling blooms from early summer to final killing frost. During this season-long color, 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' blooms can be cut for bouquets. The University of Maryland conducted cut flower trials and found 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' had a vaselife of up to two weeks.  Source: Colorado State U.
Zinnia 'Zowie! Yellow Flame'
Cleome is sometimes called spider flower.

Rose Queen spider-flower Cleome hassleriana ‘Rose Queen’ (1800’s)

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew this exotic South American annual. The cultivated variety ‘Rose Queen’ is listed in an 1836 seed catalog and is still offered in many seed catalogs today. Seed pods and stamens appear like wispy whiskers that add a delicate effect to a reliable bloomer of rose buds which open into fluffy light-pink petals which present a two-tone effect. Source: Smithsonian Gardens
Cleome hassleriana 'Rose Queen'

The common name for verbena bonariensis is tall verbina. It makes an architectural statement with slender, willowy stems that stand up to 6 feet tall and do not need staking. It then branches out widely near the top where rich lilac-purple flower clusters stand alone, as if they are floating. This Verbena makes a great see-through plant. Source: Fine Gardening

Verbena bonariensis
Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun' and sedum

Gloriosa daisy is a short-lived perennial that is usually treated as an annual. If it doesn't survive the winter, I am hoping it selfseeds, as I am sure the cleome will do. This unusual strain is taller and features golden petals with yellow tips, surrounding a green central button or cone.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun'

The new flower garden greets you as you enter our property ...

Compare this view with the 'before' picture near the top of the posting.

Did you make a new flower bed this year?

Happy Gardening!

Pamela x

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  1. I think it is a great idea the flowerbed behind the signpost and with these annuals it looks just wonderful. I like the birdhouse on the backside, so funny.

  2. That is a lovely grouping of flowers. I especially like the cleome and 'Zowie' zinnias. This is my first year to grow it, and I love the colorful fowers. They are so unusual. I can see why they named it 'Zowie'!

  3. I do like your new bed. It looks ever so summery and healthy. I hope your annuals are very happy and set seed for you.
    I don't grow many annuals - Verbena Bonarienis one I do grow and it not only makes a statement - the pollinators love it too.

  4. Wow well-done Pam! I love it... I've read of cleome but never such an informative testimonial. I plan to order some seed for annuals next year and I'll add it to the list, so pretty, and historic too. That post certainly needed a bed beside it and your efforts were perfect. I love digging up more ground and do it almost every autumn, which makes spring just so exciting!

  5. I'm quite sure that little blue bird is delighted with the landscaping you've provided, Pam. It looks so inviting! Your Zinnia 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' has captured my heart. It is much prettier than what I see in the catalogs.

  6. The new bed looks lovely...but then everything on your place always does. You have two of my fave plants in there. Cleome and Verbena bonariensis. Hope you are having a lovely Summer.

  7. Oddly enough, we have a lot of the same flowers! I love Cleome, largely because nothing seems to want to eat it! Do you cut the seed pods off of yours as they form? I feel like doing that will help encourage the flowers to keep coming. I don't like to dead head it fully, because the new flowers all form at the top.

    I'm jealous of your gomphrena. Did you buy nursery stock, or did you start it from seed? I started some from seed this spring, but it came along awfully slowly. There are a few blooms coming just now.

    Rose from Prairie Rose's Garden featured Zowie zinnias in her blog last summer, and I was very taken by them, so I bought some seeds and have them behind the fence in the vegetable garden. A few have their first buds now.

    I will read more about your lasagna methods, as I am planning to create some new beds around the yard here. I've been collecting newspapers as they come in, and I had my son collect all the grass clippings when he mowed the other day, and I also have a good supply of homemade compost. I'll buy some peat moss and mushroom dirt to fill out the layers.

  8. I didn't make a new bed, but the one at the street is mostly annuals so I had fun starting seeds for it. I love gomphrena, and I did it in purple, red and pink. So much fun. Also, I love those Zowie zinnias. Fun plants. Your garden is lovely my friend.~~Dee

  9. What a beautiful flower bed, Pam! I also grow cleome and verbena b. I like the rock border and the sedum growing in the rock. Great job, Pam!

  10. It looks beautiful Pam! What a nice sight to greet you when you drive up. And how nice that a bird is actually using the bird house! They never use the ones I have around my yard :)

  11. No new ones with this heat but we are adding a new veg bed and lots to change although probably not this year as the retirement is postponed a year...but you have given me some great ideas for my mailbox garden as it needs more mid to late summer blooms.

  12. Nice to see how the arrangement with the little pots evolved - still in keeping with the regulations of course. Great job!

  13. Fabulous job, it looks so pretty now with the colourful backdrop. and I'll bet that bluebird is happy as well to have some flowers to pick through and grab bugs.

  14. What a delightful little garden. You've chosen some lovely flowers and they look great grouped behind the number sign.

  15. That bluebird must be very happy to have such a nice flower garden in front of its little home.

  16. This new flower bed incorporates everything I love, rocks, annuals and sedums. I am growing Zowie Flame this year too and it is a winner, along with Magellan zinnias. What a lovely entrance to your home, I just bet you smile every time you drive past this glorious sight and so do your neighbors!

  17. Pam, your new flower bed looks spiffing. Annuals just perfect for your needs, I wish there were more perennials that would meet the requirements. Never heard of a common name for verbena bonariensis, tall verbena says it all.

  18. Your garden is beautiful. I would like to have such a big garden. I love the Amaranth. I forgot about them. I had them in my garden before we moved here. I will try to introduce them in this garden. So maybe next year you will see them passing by in my blog.
    Thanks for sharing your lovely garden.

  19. I just started gardening - preparing the area for next spring and planting bulbs and a few bushes. I live in Italy but my plan is a little cottage garden. I am so glad I found your blog - I think I'm going to learn a lot from reading it all the way back to the beginning! Thanks very much