Annual Performance Review, 2014.

It’s time for my Annual Performance Review!

I know, I’m running a bit late this year – there’s been snow on the ground for a couple of weeks now and I cleaned up my garden eons ago.  This is an entry that I ought to have done months ago, but everything kind of got away from me.  Still, it’s never too late to talk about plants that worked, so here are my recommendations for the best of the annuals in my garden this past growing season.  Bear in mind that my soil is the kind of compacted clay that only plastic garden gnomes truly thrive in, and I live on the Prairies, which means that it is blisteringly hot and dry during our summer days, with nighttime temperatures that plummet and hover around the freezing mark.  (I exaggerate, but only slightly).

My flowerbeds are primarily filled with mature perennials – I’ve been working on these beds for just over a decade now and many of the plants are nearly that old (and, sigh, some badly need divisions that I did not manage to get around to even though the weather held beautifully this autumn).  I do like to throw in a few annuals every year, however, just for an extra punch of colour that lasts the full growing season…well, if the rabbits don’t get to them, that is.  This year, I went heavy on the full-sized petunias – truly, they’re not my favourite plants (we sold GAHzillions of them when I worked in the garden centre years ago and now the sight of them en masse stresses me out.  I have a petunia tic, I swear).  But I got a super deal on some really healthy specimens and, to my surprise, they didn’t end up as rabbit fodder.  ‘Picobella Red’ and ‘Pretty Grand Midnight’ did their jobs admirably well, and stood up nicely even though I didn’t water pretty much all summer and the weather was hotter than usual.  Unoriginal, perhaps, but steady, reliable workhorses…which is what you need sometimes in the garden (and in life!).

I only did up two containers this year – and both of them featured the same plants, the combination of which hands-down takes the award for Best Annuals.  If you’re into the whole “Thriller, Spiller, Filler” thing, you’ll be disappointed, because I omitted the filler (actually, the spiller and the thriller had that job covered nicely, anyway).  My goal was to showcase an amazing begonia, the ‘Pegasus’ hybrid from Proven Winners.  If you’ve been following my blog for awhile now, you know I have a thing for begonias, and this one totally made my jaw drop when I uncrated it. ‘Pegasus’ isn’t grown for flowers, but for that incredible foliage.  If you’re a fan of coleus (have you been growing/drooling over the Under the Sea collection from the University of Saskatchewan or are they just a little too off the wall for your tastes?), you’ll appreciate the sophisticated patterning on the leaves of this begonia.  This is a plant that will complement any other – I’m already dreaming of new combos for next year…something in white, perhaps, that will absolutely glow in the shade?


This year, I paired ‘Pegasus’ with ‘Supertunia Black Cherry’, a petunia hybrid with an attitude.  These fierce beauties didn’t stop blooming even though I occasionally often forgot to water and they were located in a mostly shady spot. They even went through several light frosts, which didn’t faze the begonias, either.   And that colour makes me just plain happy.  🙂  These supertunias also performed beautifully in a sunny spot well-suited to them, in the front of one of my perennial beds.


Do you grow any annual flowers?  Which ones are favourites in your garden?  Are there any you don’t care for at all?

Finally…just for fun…do you start your annuals from seed, or do you pick them up by the flat from the garden centre? 

Look for ‘Pegasus’ begonia and ‘Supertunia Black Cherry’, as well as other new Proven Winner annual selections such as Salvia longisicata x farinacea ‘Playin’ The Blues’, Sutera hybrid ‘Snowstorm Blue Bubbles’ and ‘Vermillionaire’ Cuphea in garden centres in 2015.  ‘Pegasus’ will be on my list, for sure!  (Although Proven Winners generously provided me with a few annual plant selections from their upcoming 2015 catalogue to trial in my zone 3 garden, I was not compensated to review them.  My opinions of how they performed are my own).



  1. Interesting review. I always see people buying petunias but I ended up giving up on them as mine always seem to go very leggy. Perhaps it is our exposure or that I am a frugal waterer. Do you find you need to water your petunias a lot?

    • I really only watered when things were looking really parched and peaked this summer – and the plants stood up really well. With petunias, you have to keep up with the plant food – that might help keep them from getting leggy. I think that’s the case with most annuals – I’ve noticed it especially with verbena, in the past. The only ones that don’t seem to care much are marigolds, LOL.

  2. I normally like begonias…there is one that is my favourite but I always forget the name. The flowers droop like teardrops…love it. The begonia you like…I don’t but the Supertunia Black Cherry I will keep my eyes peeled for next spring. Thanks for the names.


  3. I really had a laugh reading this post! Thank-you. I voted on your annuals poll and said that I didn’t grow annuals – which I don’t because I don’t have the time at the moment. ( Tell a lie – I did plant up a couple of window boxes which I kept forgetting to water.) I think with more time I would as I used to and loved them for their colour and variety. Also, I love the way you can just get rid of them at the end of the season without feeling guilty. I like all the daisy annuals especially. I always thought that I didn’t like begonias until my daughter bought me a couple of corms for Mothering Sunday a couple of years ago. I really like them now for the colourful flowers and for the leaf shape. I love your featured one – those sparkly spots are lovely and the leaves look quite delicate too

    • I like the whole “lack of guilt” part about annuals, as well – plus, the fact that you can change them up every year (and the affordability, which would be even more pronounced if I had more room to start my own from seed!).

      Begonias are one of my favourites…I must admit, I like them even more than impatiens. And they’re pretty forgiving about that whole “forget to water” thing (which seems to happen to me all the time! ).

  4. I love your blog, flowery prose. It was a great fall for getting lots done. Next year I want to start some perennials from seed, particularly Maltese cross. Want to do a post on seed catalogues?

    • Maltese cross is a lovely plant, for sure! I had one for some time, but a particularly harsh winter took it out. Wishing you success with starting your perennials in the spring – that’s a great idea! Wish I had more space to do so myself. It’s so much more rewarding than just going to the garden centre.

      Should maybe do a post on seed catalogues – good plan!

  5. I do try and grow them from seed, but am always tempted at the garden centre and top up my geranium stock every year. Next year I will have to buy more geraniums as my cuttings have not taken well at all… no idea why as I am usually very lucky with them! I like your petunia colour. It really does glow!

    • That’s too bad about your geranium cuttings – wonder why? I think it’s great that you are able to start most of your own annuals – it just seems more special, to see them through all of the stages from germination to maturity and know that you’ve helped them along! 🙂

  6. I haven’t grown petunias or begonias for a while. These look superb. What I seem to be growing at the moment is a wilderness. 😦 The bees are happy about it, even if I am not.

  7. I love begonias but they seem to hate me–I have decided not to buy any more because they always die–it’s just sad. In fact, I guess I don’t do well with annuals, in general–I’m trying to think of any that really flourish here and am having trouble. Hmmm . . . I guess trailing verbena works out well.

    • And trailing verbena is beautiful, one of my favourites!

      I wonder why your begonias don’t do well for you, that’s really too bad. They’re usually pretty laid back. That’s why I love them – they don’t need any real input, which totally suits my style of gardening. And such a big return from them!

  8. Petunias might act as annuals in your climate but they aren’t an annual plant just treated as such in places where they don’t survive the winter. An annual is a plant that grows from seed, flowers, produces seed all in one year and then die. Petunias grown in a climate with a mild winter are perennials. Don’t worry though this is an error made by many gardeners. Most annuals will flower all at once and then die and no amount of dead heading will stop them dyeing. Great to have a review of what was successful for you this year.

  9. I always fill in the perennial beds with annuals for extra color, esp. at home. I start them from seed: I love Benary Giant Zinnias and State Fair Zinnias! 4-5 feet tall! Violet Queen Cleome! Sensation Mix Cosmos! Blue Bedder Salvia! Torch Tithonia! Am I getting carried away? 😉 It’s nice to think about colorful things on this very dark dreary rainy day…

  10. Hi Sheryl! Do you ever bother overwintering your annuals? I’ve had great luck with some of the cane begonias, and they’re also starting to become one of my favorites. I put them in a part of the garage which doesn’t freeze and although they lose most of their leaves by midwinter they come right back once I start watering again. I would have never thought they were that tough!
    I grow many annuals from seed, but always pick up a couple ‘must haves’ at the nursery. Gotta support your local businesses, right?

    • I don’t have a lot of space so I tend not to overwinter any plants – I would if I could, though! I think many overwintered annuals are more robust and floriferous if they are kept over. It’s a great idea!

      And I so agree with you about supporting local businesses – that’s such an incredibly important and good thing!

  11. I am becoming more enthusiastic about mixing annuals into the gardens. My favorites for mixing in beds and borders are Zinnias, multi-stemmed annual sunflowers, Tithonia, Cleome, and good old Marigolds. I am not too fond of petunias either, though I like Calibrachoa.

    • I’m with you on the Calibrachoa – I love them as well, and there are so many amazing colours to choose from. Zinnias are a personal favourite as well – they are gorgeous. And I’m thinking very seriously about putting in some cleome this year – they have such striking flowers.

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