The miraculous change from bodacious bloom to bountiful fruit! I would be happy to grow a creeping pumpkin vine just for the glamorous golden blossoms, but am grateful to also get my sweet pie pumpkins. See more pumpkins by clicking here.
Cosmos are a regular annual in my garden - I don’t go a year without them! Their bright, clear blooms are a dependable and cheerful addition. I pop in seeds once risk of frost has passed, or pick up cell packs of starter plants to get a jump start on blooms (or you can start inside 4-6 wks ahead of last frost). Blooms can be single or double, and are traditionally pink, white or red, but there are now varieties with orange or yellow. I somehow did not plant any white cosmos this year, and am missing their pure pearly show.
Technical stuff – Cosmos, herbaceous annual, height of 18”-60”+ (dwarf and tall varieties), full sun, blooms summer into fall, wonderful cut flower and attracts bees and butterflies.
I have often had visitors comment – you have such exotic blooms! But I really only grow easy plants – morning glories are a perfect example of exotic blooms for little work. Both these beauties are blooming now. And this is definitely one of the easiest ways to get pure blue in the garden! Read more about morning glories by clicking here and clicking here.
I plant my nasturtium seeds direct into the garden a week or two before the last expected spring frost. Therefore, they bloom later than those purchased as plants or started early indoors. So their bright, boisterous blooms are now lighting up the late summer garden with shots of ruby red, brilliant orange, softest yellow or richest golden. Read more about nasturtiums by clicking here.
Beets are one of the jewels of the veggie garden. Juicy red-purple stems carry ruffles of wine veined leaves that can be a feast of their own. Plump and potent roots swell into globes of earthy sweetness waiting for harvest. And ‘oh the glow!’ of pickled beets nestled amongst vinegar, sugar and cloves in a mason jar.
There is a bit of a lull in the garden as summer bloomers soften, and September thrillers are just budding out. Sparkling annuals fill this lull: the iridescent sheen of osteospermum, the fiery crimson and gold of amaranthus, the merriest orange and bronze of simple marigolds, the buttery yellow or tender orange of lantana. The sun backlights a ruby petunia so it glows like a jewel. A begonia is edged in the ripest ruffled pink. Compare the mood of a blush double snapdragon to that of a zinnia in brightest coral. Always there is fascination and beauty to be found in the garden.
Veggie gardens are in full swing now! Fat, fragrant garlic bulbs have been pulled. Frilly, bushy kale is lush for the picking. Cabbage heads have rounded out. Beets have plumped. Green beans hang waiting. Snow peas jiggle in the breeze. Lettuce is still lush. Fennel and dill wave their feathery leaves and waft their savoury scents. Zucchini and cukes are profuse – pickling has begun! Peppers are dangling. Precious tomatoes are ripening. The bounty, the glory, the harvest!
The iconic sunflower is blooming now. As the name implies, sunflowers love sun, wanting full sun all or most of the day, and loving long hot summers. This drought tolerant annual is basking in our current heat wave, with rich, golden petals blazing. There are many varieties of sunflowers, ranging in height and colour. These beauties self-seeded from the bird feeder, popping up in my garden at their own discretion!
Technical stuff – Sunflower/Helianthus, annual flower usually planted from seed after danger of frost, height of 2’ to 10’ or even up to 15’ depending on variety, full sun, blooms in summer.
A simple annual in a quirky pot can perk up your day! This mix of portulaca in lemon yellow, ripe coral and fresh white add an appreciated spot of colour and brightness. Read more about portulaca by clicking here.
A sunny day last September, I was out taking photos and was enthralled with the stunning blooms of morning glory. The startling purple, fuchsia and pink encircling a glowing white center, left me in awe. Such a simple seed, which grows quickly and easily into a lush vine, and then exalts with stellar, striking blooms until frost. The heart shaped leaves backdrop in lively green. And what is more enchanting than a twisting, twirling, twining vine making its magical way up an aged garden post? Read more about morning glories 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.
As you can see from above, I am partial to candy pinks, tangerines and corals, but zinnias come in a rainbow of colours. The bright and bold blooms can be single, double, ruffled, cactus style or domed, often with contrasting centers. This is one of my favourite cut flowers, bedazzling a bouquet to last a week or more. Zinnias are an annual, easy to grow from seed (one seed company boasted over 100 varieties of zinnias!), or cell pack if you have less patience or too short a growing season. They adore sunshine and heat – not a plant to overwater. I enjoy zinnias in containers or as fillers amongst perennials. Next year I am planning a row in the veggie garden for regular bouquet harvests. The fun-to-say name was in honour of the botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn, who first recorded the zinnia.
Technical stuff – Zinnia/Zinnia elegans (most common), annual to grow from seed or cell pack, height varies from 6” to 36” depending on variety, prefers well drained soil and go easy on the watering, blooms summer to frost.
Nasturtium usually makes me think of vivid orange, spicy red and golden yellow. I love all these vibrant shades, but this year a delicate peach bloom left me enamoured. Its gentle petals were truly peaches and cream with intricate orange veining, and a touch of saffron at its center. Now if I can just remember which seed packet gave me this charmer! You can see more nasturtium blooms by clicking here.
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.
Each year I buy several ‘beyond zone’ herb plants to have in pots. I love the addition of exotic scents and textures. The curry plant above has exquisite detailed gray-green leaves in a petite shrub form. Last winter I expected this curry plant to be a casualty. It was left in its 9” pot on the back patio amongst a few other pots of annuals – I often leave frost proof pots as-is for winter interest. Over the season as I shoveled droves of snow, much was piled on top of those pots. The curry plant is hardy to zone 8 or 9 (versus my zone 5), yet to my sheer delight it started to grow up fresh last spring and had another successful summer. Apparently piled snow was the deep, protective layer this plant needed. Of course it was about 6 feet plus of snow, so that is quite the blanket! Little accidents will teach and thrill you in the garden. This year I am purposefully reenacting the scenario to see if I can orchestrate the same results!