Monday, May 21, 2012

Perennial annuals...

 Everyone eventually grows Larkspur (Ajacis consolida), which is the ultimate annual that comes back with a vengeance. Tony Avent famously says that "that friends don't let friends grow annuals" (something I don't necessarily agree with)...I find myself growing more and more annuals each year, and none delight me more than those that come back on their own. Self sowing annuals are potentially a bane in the garden if they become too rambunctious, like larkspur, Rudbeckia triloba. Even Nigella and bachelor's buttons can truly overwhelm a small space without some judicious thinning early on...

But Orlaya grandiflora (photographed in Mike Kintgen's incomparable garden) above is very seemly for me: I show his plant rather than mine which are smaller, and more dispersed and not quite so photogenic! I recall seeing this brilliant white umbel in the wild in Greece some time ago, and love to lacy look and its unthreatening nature in the xeriscape.

 I took an awesome opicture of this same species of poppy this morning in my own garden but haven't downloaded it you must settle for the shot I took a few days ago in the amazing garden in the central square of Fayetteville, Arkansas. (That's where I took the Spigelia picture in the previous blog)....Papaver rhoeas spreads modestly for me, but reliably, needing a bit of moisture in spring to germinate and do best, but is otherwise a very heat and drought tolerant plant. And the color is spectacular...
 Although said to be a perennial, I find that Gaillardia pinnatifida is a facultative annual for me (I doubt that many have ever come back for me after flowering well). It is found on both slopes of the Colorado Rockies, the picture above was taken last week in Oklahoma, just south of the Colorado line.

The white froth you see in this picture is Erigeron divergens, one of the most universal annuals in the American Great Plains and the Southwest deserts as well. I took the picture two weeks ago in my unwatered xeriscape. If you came by today, it would all be gone (I found it a tad too spready for this area and pulled all of the daisies in this picture....and scattered the ripening seeds in the meadows surrounding my house. I have no doubt that by this autumn there will be lots of this back again, and just as much growing here next year. I never planted this incidentally: it is native in my garden!

I could extend the list of persistent annuals indefinitely: I recently obtained Limnanthes douglasii (which is the subject of a similar post by Matt Mattus recently), which I sincerely hope will persist...I could add many more poppies, Ziziphora capitata, no end of crucifers and best of all, Ammi majus and A. visnaga---we shall save these for another posting later in the season perhaps!

Friends do let friends grow annuals, Tony!


  1. Add Baileya multiradiata, Matthiola longipetala, Corydalis aurea, Gilia tricolor, Phacelia campanularia and a dozen other Californians to the list, too.
    Compared to multi-colored triple-headed echinaceas, these are elegance personified

  2. What? You are not a fan of Monster Echinaceas? Perish the thought!

    You grow Matthiola longipetala? You've been holding out on me, Bob...I've been looking for that for ages!


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