Sunday, 20 November 2011

Cottage Garden Annuals (20 NOV 2011)


What's in a name?  That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


A row of unlabelled roses, planted in the flower-beds along the right border many years before I owned the property, is the enduring legacy of the previous gardeners. I don't even know their names, but they certainly took care to choose plants for all seasons including a cherry blossom tree which provides shade to a miniature woodland garden.

When I'm on my knees weeding between the crooked paving stones, I wonder why they decided to raise and pave the bottom half of the garden with steps leading down to a handerkerchief lawn at ground level near the house. It may have seemed a good idea at the time, but if only they could see it now.

I can only judge them by what they created and the fish-shaped bird bath that they selected. It's broken and dated, but still treasured now.

At first I blamed everything that was wrong with the garden on them (Who planted a rampant wisteria right next to the helpless cherry blossom tree?).  Gradually, as the seeds that I have planted here have grown and bloomed, I have taken ownership by fostering the inherited plants (except the clerodendrum which recovered luckily and is here to stay) and doing my best to enhance rather than change the work that has already been done. 

From the beginning of my gardening adventures, I debated whether to fill the flower-beds with perennials. It seemed a sensible, low-maintenance solution but I was wary because of warnings that perennials are for life, not just a season.

While I made my mind up, I decided to plant annuals for a summer spectacle. The first batch of seeds which I had chosen individually were mostly killed by slugs; the second batch of cottage garden annual mixed seeds were germinated in my kitchen and planted late, with crossed fingers. I still remember the day when I looked at the pinch of different-shaped seeds in my palm thinking that I had missed the boat, but took the chance anyway.
Due to the unusually wet summer and late frosts in autumn, some are still in flower now ...

If I had known that the soil where the foxgloves and nicotiana had flourished previously was already impregnated with germinating seeds, I would have thought twice about superimposing more seedlings on top. Nevertheless these annuals refused to be stifled ...

love-in-a-mist
unknown 1


I presume that sunflowers would thrive in the sun-trapped area of the garden rather than next to the fence and between two bushes, however these seedlings grew perfectly in the shade. I'll leave the plants in situ, in the hope that they will self-seed and put on a repeat performance next year. (Who needs perennials ? ...)

sunflower 1
sunflower 2


On the other hand, a seedling planted next to them turned out to be lavatera. It surprised me, growing taller than the surrounding bushes, surpassing the giant hollyhock, to get closer to the sun.

lavatera


Meanwhile these plants trailed horizontally for at least a glimpse of the sun's rays, conjuring a day-dream of my flower-beds packed so full that plants overspill the bordering walls. 

unknown 2
snapdragon - thanks for the name Janet@Plantalicious


I've seen violet cascades of lobelias numerous times in hanging baskets, but I'd never stopped to admire the beauty of each tiny flower. It wouldn't occur to me to plant a single lobelia seed in the same way that I would plant a poppy seed. Unnamed, they were given the same opportunity to shine.

lobelia - thanks for the name Alistair@AberdeenGardening

double poppy

©Copyright 2011 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for http://experiments-with-plants.blogspot.com/2011/11/cottage-garden-annuals-20-nov-2011.html

21 comments:

Sunray Gardens said...

You had some lovely blooming flowers this year. The Sunflowers are lovely, and it's nice they did so well in that area for you.
Cher Sunray Gardens

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

I love the annuals that come in the mixes. We plant them on commercial jobs and most reseed year after year in a field of color. Some mixes have perennial, biennial and annual seed, but I always prefer those that are annual. I like how long they flower. My favorites are the cleomes, cosmos and poppies. I could have a garden just in those plants. The lavatera is beautiful as are your sunflowers.

Malar said...

What a lovely blooms! I never seen a red mixture Sunflower! You have collection of beautiful flowers!

linniew said...

Wind is shaking the windows in my house and rain is pelting the glass, but I am looking at your flower photos and reading your pleased words and thinking of spring and seeds and plants-- thanks!

HolleyGarden said...

Beautiful. It struck me as funny that you didn't want to use perennials, but when I started gardening I would only use perennials, because I didn't want to keep planting every year. I still shy away from annuals, but have begun thinking about getting some seeds to mix in the garden. I think my garden's been missing this area for too long!

Christine @ the Gardening Blog said...

Lovely photo of the Lavatera - I have just planted some white Lavatera - hope mine looks as gorgeous as yours. I love the love-in-a-mist - how cute is that? I planted seeds of that too but they have yet to germinate. Here's hoping :)

Alistair said...

Hi b-a-g very pleasing use and pleasure which you get from your annuals. Thanks for the mention on your Lobelia picture. I would have a rethink on the use of perennials, I have never heard of a gardener thinking of them as being for life. At times they die off, some may turn out to be not to your liking and other times you simply want to change it for another, just for a change. I wonder if your unknown plant is a Scabious.

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

If only perennials were for life, we can only hope and pray!!! I think unknown 1 is scabiosa, probably S. ochroleuca.

elaine rickett said...

I think unknown 2 is a Godetia. I love annuals they provide so much long-lasting colour - and to be honest perennials aren't for life so are quite short lived I think the name perennial is a misnomer. Lucky you still having so much still in flower.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Such beautiful flowers..some I am unfmailiar with and will have to check out a bit more...snapdragons are one of my favs and I love the color....I too have some sunflowers that found their way into a shady area and have shown up a couple years now...

Stacy said...

I like your approach to the garden you "inherited"--it just seems very kind and respectful somehow.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Cher, Malar, DonnaGEV - Glad you liked the sunflowers. If I had known what the seedlings were, I would have planted them in the sun-trap, instead I discovered that they could grow in the shade.

Thanks DonnaGWGT & Christine - Glad you liked the lavatera. It grew tall and spindly due to lack of sun-shine. I've seen it grow more like a bush totally covered in flowers in other gardens.

Welcome Elaine - Thanks for naming unknown2. These photos were taken during the month of November, I collected them together for one post on cottage garden annuals. The sunflowers, love-in-a-mist and snapdragons are now definitely dead, the others are trying their best to stay alive

b-a-g said...

Alastair & Carolyn - Thanks for naming unknown1. I agree there are some perennials like camellia which I can't find fault with. I'm just wary of the ones with uncontrollable, sprouting roots.

Thanks Linnie - Hope I don't sound too pleased, it's just a split-second decision made the difference between empty flower-beds and the flowers in this post. The weather is turning that way over here too.

Thanks Holly - Looking forward to seeing annuals peeping over your box hedges and amongst your roses.

Thanks Stacy - When I found the garden, it had been neglected for quite a while, but I could still tell that someone had loved it.

catharine Howard said...

You must have been chuffed to bits with that display.

debsgarden said...

Your blooms are lovely. Perennials are not so easy care in my climate. If they are for life, for a lot of them it's a short life. I love annuals that reseed themselves!

One said...

Hi! Congratulations! Your caption has been selected and is posted today!

Achoo!

catharine Howard said...

Give me an annual any time.

PatioPatch said...

I like your approach b-a-g - the caretaker as opposed to the sweeper. You really do have the green-fingered touch

b-a-g said...

Thanks Catherine & Deb - Glad you like annuals too. I prefer them because their shallow roots don't disturb other plants.

Thanks One - I really enjoy your caption competition.

Thanks Laura - My garden could do with a bit of sweeping actually - there's a reason why I never show photos of the whole garden ...

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Clearly your approach of sowing annuals as you get to know the garden has paid off! I've only come to appreciate how much they have to offer relatively recently, but they are a fabulous way to make big changes to a garden without spending big too. And how lovely to have inherited some good bones, even if some of the landscaping choices are an annoyance. I hope I am that lucky with our next place - and thank you for the snapdragon mention!

b-a-g said...

Hi Janet - I feel excited for you, moving into a new place and starting all over again. I remember when you started your allotment ... your progress in such a short time was inspiring.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...