Outstanding Annuals 2012

Annuals play a big role in my garden. They take the heat in stride, bloom all summer long and provide a punch of color wherever there is a lag. Perennials don't do that, and neither do shrubs. Some make more of a splash than others and those are the ones I'll be talking about here.
Passiflora 'Clear Skies'
I haven't grown passion flower before, but I won't be shying away from it anymore. Passiflora 'Clear Skies' shows up nicely against its dark green foliage. It has a light fragrance, which has convinced me that it should be sited closer to the house next time I plant it. It seems to love hot weather and a regular feeding with a water soluble plant food. 

Cleome 'Seniorita Blanca'
My garden will never be without Cleome, partially because it reseeds prodigiously. It also attracts hummingbirds, which I think of as one of the highlights of gardening. When Proven Winners sent me two plants of Cleome 'Seniorita Blanca' to try, I plopped them in the perimeter zone of the Monarda 'Raspberry Wine' for a complete hummingbird buffet. Not only did they hold their own, they formed a serious clump in the garden and provided an accent for everything nearby and lured the resident hummingbirds in for a midday nectar snack.
The introduction by Proven Winners of Calibrachoa 'Lemon Slice' is quite a breakthrough, as it's labeled the first striped Calibrachoa. And as far as I can determine, there has never been a yellow and white striped petunia before, either. I combined the plants sent to me to try together in a pot with another Proven Winners introduction, Lantana Luscious Berry Blend.  Both were did well, the Lantana with little deadheading.
Calibrachoa 'Lemon Slice'
There is something refreshing about a yellow and white flower, and Calibrachoa 'Lemon Slice' is no exception. Its flowers are as perky as a Frangipani, which I've not yet tried to grow. But as easy to grow and as long-blooming as 'Lemon Slice' has been, I'm okay with that.

Frost Fails to Foil Formidable Flowers

"Holy Cow! Where did that cockamamie frost come from?! It's not supposed to do that until some time in November," the spoiled me exclaimed.

If I had just started gardening in the past couple of years, I would have felt as though the temperature dip of early October was directed at me personally. As one who has no such newbie status, I am duly red-faced. My husband lugged in the tropicals, a job that gets more difficult each year as he ages and the plants grow. But I could have ooched the mixed pots beneath the eaves for a possible save. Today it's in the 70s for pity's sake!

Salvia 'Coral Nymph'
OK, enough lamentation. I still have lots of color in the garden, some of it even provided by some annuals. Two I started from seed from Renee's Garden Seeds - Salvia 'Coral Nymph' and Nasturtium 'Cup of Sun'. I like 'Coral Nymph' for its delicate addition of color, blending well with whatever it grows with. Although the Nasturtium is described as fading to a paler yellow, my experience throughout the summer has been a flower of a consistently bright and cheerful peachy gold. I'd shied away from Nasturtium over the years because it hadn't performed well for me. But 'Cup of Sun' single-handedly changed my mind.

Nasturtium 'Cup of Sun'
My roses have finally recovered from the overly-lengthy visit by Japanese beetles. The golden backdrop combined with the fall sun angle turns the Rose 'Pink Home Run' into a bouquet of vibrant beacons near my sun room window. This disease-resistant single shrub rose was developed when a pink-flowered branch was found on a red 'Home Run' rose. It even has a wonderful fragrance when conditions are right.
Rosa 'Pink Home Run'
My favorite rose, 'Gruss an Aachen' put out a smattering of blossoms when the weather cooled off. This floribunda, according to the Antique Rose Emporium, is thought to be the rose that began the floribunda class. I have had this plant for more than 15 years, bringing it with me from the old house, and moving it at least twice before it finally settled two years ago in the south-facing raised bed near the house. I'd chosen it because it was described as being able to bloom in less than sunny conditions.
'Gruss an Aachen' floribunda rose

So aside from putting the kibosh on my Zinnias and several mixed planters, the frost hasn't forced me to forgo continued fun in my fall garden. Enjoy what's left of the season, snap some photos, open the windows and listen to the leaves swish in the wind. And happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

Potatoes and Tomatoes: You Can Grow That!

In a sun-challenged garden, it's not necessary to harvest tons of edibles in order to call it a successful growing year. In the 12 years we've lived in this house and have been attempting to grow veggies, this was a banner year. Our proudest accomplishment was the six or more lbs. of potatoes grown in a potato bag. I planted French fingerling potatoes from Territorial Seed in the cloth bag and by mid-September, we had ourselves a serious clutch of spuds.
We'd grown potatoes before in the bag, but had come away with just a pound of potatoes. Next year, I'll be adding another grow bag to put right alongside the existing one, and perhaps grow sweet potatoes as well.
The two grafted tomato plants were big producers as well, providing enough fruit so that I actually had to blanch, peel and freeze four large  bags full. I loved the flavor of the Black Trifele, but much of the fruit had a condition that caused internal white tissue, which is shown and described on the University of Florida Extension website. The disorder looks somewhat unappetizing but didn't seem to have an effect on the flavor, which was excellent. The Legend tomatoes were nice-looking; the early ones were a bit mealy, otherwise nice and juicy.
I'm officially chalking both issues up to the heat and my lack of consistent watering. But I'll definitely go with grafted plants again.
One of these days I'll figure out how to get more than one small serving of green beans at a time. And would it be too much to ask for a nice, big bowl of salad twice a year? Maybe not. But next year, I'll be reminding myself: