Tag Archives: coleus

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.

John