Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Annuals

Well, the relentless stretch of insane 100+ degree temperatures has finally broken, and I can finally venture out into the garden again without fear of melting my camera (or myself)! Wisconsin has not seen such hot temperatures since the 1800s. The plants, like the people, are looking tired and worn, but happy to have survived. And through it all, was I doomed to contemplate only parched grass and resting perennials from the windows of my air-conditioned refuge? I was not! Because I had the foresight to sprinkle the garden with a variety of tough summer blooming annuals. Here is what continued to bloom through the broil:

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) - I've always read that snaps prefer cool temperatures, but these 'Ribbon' series snapdragons that I grew from seed bloomed non-stop right through the heat. (I did water them, of course.) They looked so enticing, they ALMOST made me want to venture outside to pick a bouquet (almost).

Snapdragons 'Ribbon Mix'
Calendula (pot marigold) is an easy annual for summer color. If deadheaded, it blooms continuously from June to frost and beyond (October or November in my area). It's incredibly easy to grow from seed, directly sown right where you want it. This year I planted a cute little dwarf variety called 'Bon Bon'. Calendula are edible (and quite tasty), so I was concerned that the local bunnies wouldn't give them a chance, but for some reason this year they went after the zinnias and left the calendula alone. Go figure.

Calendula 'Bon Bon' with Snapdragon 'Ribbon Mix'
Petunias are of course a classic favorite for providing summer color through the hot months - here is 'Wave Pink' at the feet of Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) 'Mariesii':

Platycodon grandiflorus 'Mariesii' and pink Wave petunias
I grew this Convulvulus tricolor (Dwarf Morning Glory) from seed and it churned out pretty new blue-and-yellow blooms every day through the heat wave. The foliage looks pretty awful though - not sure if it needs a richer potting soil, more water, or less heat (probably all three).

Convulvulus tricolor (Dwarf Morning Glory)

This Martha Washington Geranium (Pelargonium) is an African plant that does not mind the heat. It sucked up water like a sponge, so I did have to water it every day. Annual geraniums need to be deadheaded and deadleafed (remove dead/yellow leaves) continually to keep them looking spiffy.

Martha Washington Geranium
I planted canna and calla lily bulbs, and so far only the callas are blooming. They are also getting ravaged by Japanese beetles (which we have here in droves) - my daughter and I will resume our daily round with a cup of soapy water now that the heat has waned. These bulbs create a tropical atmosphere which is certainly appropriate to the weather this summer!

Calla lilies (blooming), with canna and penstemon foliage

I'm quite happy with this quiet little diascia which I picked up on a whim - it has been blooming non-stop since June, and together with the lamb's ears provides a cooling touch to this hot spot near pavement.

Stachys byzantina and Diascia

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