Sunday, September 25, 2016

September in the Garden: An 'Annuals' Affair

A recipe for September. Plant your annuals from seed. Let them take their time growing all summer, and keep watering them when they flower best at the end of the season. 
In the top photo, at left, the cosmos I planted by seed in a seedbed out back sometime not too early in the summer are flourishing now. Somehow I never get around to starting seeds early. All the advice givers have you starting these seeds indoors, in a greenhouse, or a cold frame; soaking the seed in the water, or on paper towels, and otherwise acting as if the fate of the entire summer depends on your doing everything perfectly. Or, you can toss them into the ground when the soil has warmed up; forget about them; and then walk by some time in July and say, 'Oh, look, cosmos.'
       I transplanted the cosmos to wherever I found space for them. Some spaces, naturally, worked better than others. In the photo at left, I potted them so I wouldn't have to disturb the soil below where perennials, bulbs in this case, are already waiting for next spring. 
      The plants in the second photo from the top, showing a collections of potted annuals, are a different story. These pots occupy a place where an old shed collapsed under our record snowfall two winters ago. We had the shed removed, opening up a flat corner of the yard that got morning sun. I covered the ground, a messy piece of dirt with very little topsoil, with crushed stone, raked it flat and planted it entirely in containers (left over from other purchases) with inexpensive annuals bought some time in June.

        Prominent in this photo are petunias, blue salvia (a very rewarding sun plant), white-flowering Angelonia, some marigolds, verbena, the orange-flowering Gazania, and another purplish-blue plant called unhelpfully 'blue-bells.' Also Lantana (not visible here). I dug some surplus blacked-eyed susans and potted them as well; they flower in July and August, but are pretty much done now. The work here comes in watering them; nature didn't help very much in Massachusetts this summer. 
         The third photo down is the yellow hibiscus. This color blossom is a great variety for this plant. This particular specimen spent the winter (not too happily) indoors and took pretty much until the end of August before blooming regularly. 
           The next plant down is the red-flowering Mandeville rose, another popular hibiscus that will bloom until the frost.  
            The next, the fifth photo down, is the morning glory, another sun-loving annual that I am planting behind the house in a place convenient for climbing but which does not get full sun. The blooms don't come until late summer. 
          Finally, some of the same annuals as those seen earlier in pots. This time they are planted in Anne's densely populated flower boxes, supplemented by a happy gathering of red-flowering impatiens.