Flowery Friday.

It’s been all snow and grey gloom here today so I’m flashing back to a bright, candy-coloured Calibrachoa I trialed for Proven Winners this past summer.  This is ‘Superbells Holy Moly’ – holy moly, indeed! Those blooms are guaranteed to turn heads, that’s for sure.  What do you think of that colour combination?

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Flowery Friday.

Bidens Campfire Fireburst

I’m a little gaga over the colour of this new Bidens I’m trialing for Proven Winners this year – this hot little number is Campfire ‘Fireburst’.  A huge bonus is that it’s seriously drought tolerant – a good thing, because I can’t seem to keep up with the watering this summer….  🙂

Do you like orange flowers in your garden?

You can request a 2015 Gardener’s Idea Book from Proven Winners by visiting their website at http://www.provenwinners.com!

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?

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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.

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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).

 

Annual Performance Review.

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Begonia benariensis ‘Surefire™ Rose’

I planted more annuals in my flowerbeds this year than I usually do: verbena in mixed jewel-like colours, hot red and orange Tagetes marigolds, and a few delicate pink snapdragons (with the notion that they would complement the handsome dark burgundy heritage ‘Black Prince’ that has been reseeding itself for the past three summers).  Anyone who regularly follows my blog knows how the story of the verbena ended:  the bunnies ate them (well, most of them, anyway).  And the snapdragons?  Well, let’s just say the little divas didn’t like the weather.  Or the soil.  Or something.  Even the Prince, usually so reliable, forgot his lines and stalked off the stage in a huff.  In the midst of all this chaos, the marigolds have managed to put on a brave, inspired performance, but really, once again, I’m questioning my ability to select annuals that don’t end up as rabbit chow AND keep on delivering.  It’s not too much to ask for, is it?  Well, okay, maybe….

At least, as far as my containers went, there were some definite big-time superstars.  I love begonias, but up until now, I’ve only grown tuberous types – I’ve got an ooey gooey soft spot for the rose-like flowers and all those magnificent colours!  But the fibrous (wax) begonia ‘Surefire™ Rose’ (one of Proven Winners’ new selections that will be available to home gardeners in 2014) easily won me over…the bronzy-green foliage is big and bold and the coral-red flowers persisted all summer long (they’re still going strong as I write this).  One of the reasons I like begonias so much is that they’re so low maintenance – water when needed, feed a bit of diluted liquid kelp twice a month, and…well…stand back and admire.  No staking, no deadheading, no hassle – and ‘Surefire™ Rose’ fits the bill nicely.  Call me a lazy gardener, but that’s just the way I like it.   Now if only I could poll the rabbits and find out what their least favourite flower is!   😉

What annuals performed best in your garden this year?

Do you grow begonias (of any type)?  Did you make the switch from impatiens to begonias due to downy mildew concerns?

(Although Proven Winners generously provided me with a few annual plant selections from their upcoming 2014 catalogue to trial in my zone 3 garden, I was not compensated to review them.  My opinions of how they performed are my own).

Flowery Prose links up – round one.

 

I haven’t done one of these posts since (gasp!) December, and there are so many interesting plant stories I want to share with you! I hope you enjoy this batch!

  • Frost weed (Verbesina virginica) doesn’t grow here in Alberta, so finding this post about it was something “new and cool” for me.  Are you familiar with this plant?
  • It’s time to sow your seeds (perhaps it’s even too late in many regions!).  If you live in Canada and want to source out companies that sell organic heirloom or rare seeds, check out this comprehensive list.
  • Have you heard about the devastation of Impatiens walleriana by downy mildew?   Find out what is going on and pursue the “grow or give up (and for what?)” debate here.  Will you risk planting Impatiens this year?
  • Some of you will be pruning your roses already…others will be digging out from the 10 cm (5 cm, actually – it just FEELS like more) of snow we received yesterday on top of the 20 cm we had four days ago.  (I’m not bitter at all, really!).  😉  Here’s a quick guide to getting your roses in tip-top shape.
  • If this is the year you plan to espalier your apple trees, then take a look at this handy post.
  • I really loved this entry I came across about the Floating Gardens of Inle Lake, in Burma (Myanmar).   Has anyone travelled there and seen these?
  • I don’t know if any of you have to deal with armadillos as a pest in your garden, but this article really freaked me out.  I’m glad I only have to tangle with rabbits and squirrels.  If armadillos are a problem where you live, do you take the measures this writer recommends?

It’s almost the weekend…yay!  How are you planning to spend it?

Creative container.

Threshing machine planter - Saskatoon Farm - Aug 12 FP

Anyone have a spare antique threshing machine lying around somewhere?

I came across this image while going through some of my photos from the summer…isn’t this a fabulous idea for a planter? This is repurposing at its finest!

My hubby and I saw this display at The Saskatoon Farm in DeWinton, Alberta in August of last year. If you find yourself in the Okotoks area south of Calgary, make sure you stop in at the Farm during the summer…and do NOT leave without sampling or carting home several of their homemade saskatoon or rhubarb and strawberry pies and tarts. Trust me on this.  I’m going crazy thinking about them right now!  🙂

What “creative containers” have you seen or used as planters?

Sunday spotlight: Lantana South Beach Compact Hot Pink.

Oh, what spectacular colour!  Annual Lantana South Beach™ Compact Hot Pink looks like a tropical dream – can you imagine a basket or planter full of this?

Not only will it make your neighbours jealous, but lantana is also heat and drought tolerant and it doesn’t require much care.  Well-drained soil is a must and you’ll have to maintain a regular feeding schedule as you would with your other annuals, but really, all you have to do is stand back and admire it – which is such a hardship, I agree! 😉

(Check Hort Couture’s website for more of the lantanas in this series…I’m particularly gaga over the Compact Mango).

Do you grow lantana in your garden?  What is your favourite cultivar?

Related articles:  Sunday spotlight:  ‘Mars Magic’ hollyhock.

                                Sunday spotlight:  Muscari armeniacum.

                                Sunday spotlight:  ‘White Russian’ supertunia.