568 days to go – Thinking Annuals

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of my “xxx days to go” posts but I’m back thinking big picture. As a refresher, I made a vow about two months ago to do some big things with my gardens over the next year and a half. You can read about it here. I want to “go big” and see if I’m capable of matching my lofty expectations. The fun will be in the journey and I will document it all here.

Today, while looking back at all of the photos I’ve taken this past year, one plant in particular stood out. It reminded me that I really want to move in a new direction with my garden design. It also reminded me that I’m dumb because many of you have voiced your opinion many times over about how important this “type” of plant is when building up your garden beds.  

I am not a big annual guy. Never have been. I enjoy planting and nurturing perennials knowing they will give me pleasure for years to come. I also enjoy the process of watching small plugs mature right in front of my eyes. I’ve always thought of annuals as the cheap way to create a garden. I’ve seen too many people load up on impatiens or pansies in the spring and act all proud of their accomplishment. Sure the flowers look great, but where is the soul of the planting? Don’t you want to evolve along with your plants? I realize most of these individuals are not “real” plant lovers, so I shouldn’t criticize. But I do and will for the foreseeable future.

What I’m missing out on of course, are those fantastic annuals that are unique, carefree, loaded with color and character and most importantly, if used correctly, fantastic space fillers. This is a plant genre I’ve ignored for too long and it needs to be added to my repertoire.

Oh yeah … the plant I referenced earlier that grabbed my attention … it was Coleus ‘Alabama Sunset’. I bought a few of these on a whim in early spring, stuck them in some containers and quickly moved on. Well they kicked some major booty!

Here is one the day I planted it:                      

And then a few months later:

And finally, a few weeks ago before our first frost:

Talk about consistent color in a partially shaded spot. I did nothing to them other than supplemental watering when they wilted a bit. Why am I not adding plants of this ilk throughout the yard? Probably, as I mentioned previously, because I am dumb.

When all of the spring catalogs start piling up over the next few months, I will be paying special attention to the annual selections. I’ve grown them from seed in containers, but why not try them in the ground this time? It’s a small financial investment for a potentially sweet return.


7 thoughts on “568 days to go – Thinking Annuals

  1. Leslie

    And you’ve just entered the beautiful world of coleous! They come in so many wonderful and different sizes, frills, curls, colors and leaf shapes! They are such a great plant, definitely under utilized in today’s gardens, but with all the new introductions they will surely be at the top of everyone’s annual shopping list! Remember that annuals provide the constant color when the perennials fade away and in between the wait time of the next perennials time to shine! 🙂

  2. gwirrel


    One annual I would always recommend is poppies, they grow like mad and will produce loads of seeds for you so soon recover the cost of the seeds – they’re quick and easy space fillers until your perennials have matured further.
    I’m not an annual person either, but sometimes we just need to fill those spaces that would otherwise look out of place and poppies are great – plus insects love them.

  3. Anonymous

    I devote special areas of my gardens just for annuals. There are so many kinds you can try something new each year. Parks’, Stokes, Thomas and Morgan, Select Seeds (heirloom) it is its own universe. You can design a new picture every year. Work with different color schemes. Create drama with tall annuals, hollyhocks, nicotiana, love lies a bleeding. Great for hummingbirds, butterflies. Try sowing some larkspur outside in February next to some yellow perennials like coreopsis. The larkspur will probably flower in June depends on when you sow it. It needs cold. Annuals will add beauty, color, and structure especially if you go for the tall ones. Every year is an adventure. Annuals rock.

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