The fiesta of colour that is blanket flower (Gaillardia) has begun! The gentle grey-green foliage is loaded with blooms and buds, and more buds to come that will carry right into frosty fall. This feisty perennial is often short lived, but randomly and socially self-seeds to weave its bands of brilliance through the garden. It even pops up from hardened soil between stepping stones. With circles of fierce red to coral to orange and golden yellow, these sun-loving hot blooms add flare and sensation! Read more about Gaillardia by clicking here.
Marigolds may be stereotyped as Grandma’s flowers or old fashioned annuals, but they are still a favourite of mine! Marigolds’ zesty blooms come in shades of orange and yellow, and also include rusty coppers and golds. Their blooms can be simple and daisy-like, or fluffy doubles. French marigolds (Tagetes patula) are the shorter, bushier variety starting at 6” tall, and African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) are the taller version at 24”-36”. Their pungent aroma is a love or hate experience, and of course I am on the love side. These peppy annuals bloom spring to fall with easy deadheading. They serve as classic container flowers, and a long lasting cut flower. As a companion plant in the veggie garden, marigolds are known to repel aphids, suppress nematodes (microscopic worms that attack roots), and their strong fragrance may even mask the smell of veggies to confuse pests – plus they add splashes of splendid colour!
Technical stuff – Marigolds/Tagetes, annual for Canada, height varies by variety 6” – 36”, full sun, well-drained soil to avoid root rot, richer soil makes for more greenery, leaner soil makes for more blooms.
What could be more extravagant than a flower called a peony poppy!? Peony poppies (Papaver paeoniflorum) are a luscious annual, more than worth the sprinkling of a seed packet. These frothy fluffy blooms come in an assortment of colours including reds, corals, pinks, purples, and creams. Most have purple black stains in the depths of their petals. The blooms are short lasting, shedding their puffy layers to expose enchanting seed heads with detailed floral caps (read more about their seed heads here). An abundance of nodding buds will split seductively to carry on the glamorous show. Sturdy stalks bear gray-green tender leaves as a complementary backdrop. Scatter the tiny seeds onto loose soil in fall or spring, then gently water in with a little firming by foot. In my garden peony poppies self-seed freely, popping up here, there and everywhere. I have small plants with fragile, simple blooms where the seeds land in poor soil, or decadent 5” balls of ruffled bloom where I allowed them to prosper in the veggie garden. Seed heads will self-seed helter-skelter of their own accord, or collect the dry seed heads to scatter where you would like the following year’s crop.
Technical stuff – Peony poppies/Papaver paeoniflorum, annual, easy to grow from seed, height of about 24”, prefer full sun, bloom late spring into fall, will self-seed.