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


  1. Rebecca, I love your Convulvulus tricolor, very nice for container! I've never seen it before and the next year try to grow too.

    1. Give it a try Nadezda - it was easy to grow for me!

    2. I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award,
      Congratulation! See my post

  2. I can't believe the crazy weather that North America has been having, it is actually cooler here in Barbados, crazy!

    1. I know, the world has gone wacky! Wisconsin is supposed to be a cool northern climate. If things continue like this I may have to move!

  3. Oh there must be a happy medium, whilst you have been suffering such very high temperatures we have been complaining of our very cool Summer with temps mostly in the low 50s. Good to see the pot marigolds again, I remember the first time I sowed them, 40 years ago now, they came into full bloom in November.

  4. I'm glad to hear the heat is easing off for you. It must have been awful. Perhaps this portends an absolutely gorgeous, long autumn?

    Have fun with those terrible JB's. :(

  5. Can you believe this heat? Here in Colorado the Western Slope farmers grow sweet corn that is shipped all over the US, Olathe sweet corn. It is ready. Ten weeks early. So are the peaches. Early. You have some hardy plants that are able to survive the heat. Our rain has come an gone and we are headed for the 90s again.

  6. Love the beautiful dwarf Morning Glories. How big do they get? I've wanted to grow some but don't really have the space. If I could grow some in a container, that would be fantastic!

  7. That dwarf morning glory simply bursts with color!!! We have had some awful heat, but we did finally get some rain. My plants are very, very happy about that.

  8. Very wise to choose plants that can take such high temperatures. The Snapdragons are very forgiving of temperature, here they are in Wiscons thriving in intense heat whilst they are also looking good in our garden where many of the Summer days this year the temperature has only reached 52f.

  9. I loved that you paid tribute to your annual flowers - sometimes we call get carried away with perennials and vegetable gardening. You must have been so happy to see how well your plants fared with all that heat!

    We've had a bit of a heatwave here in Maine, but I can't imagine it hitting over 100 degrees!

    Thank you for sharing,

    PS - The Martha Washington geraniums are one of my favorites - I often plant mine in my container garden!

  10. Now, I wish I had planted some snapdragons. I had every intention of doing so, but somehow this garden task ended up getting overlooked. Calendula always self-seeds in the front garden. This year however, it is a virtual no-show. They add a punch of color right about now and I am missing that bright, sunny orange. Love the Dwarf Morning Glory. Very pretty!


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