Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Patrick's Picks -- Annuals

Patrick’s Picks: Versatile Annuals for Bedding and Contaners

Annual plants can provide a wealth of flowers and color impact in your garden quite inexpensively during this tough economy. I had personal experience with gardening on a tight budget when during my childhood I used my allowance to buy annuals. Since I couldn't afford perennials, I had no idea what I was missing. But consider using annuals on their own merit when you need fast growth and color in your garden.
‘Boxwood’ Basil was bred in France for a highly flavored pesto ingredient. But Alan Stevens of Kansas State Extension believes Boxwood’s real value is as an excellent ornamental plant. “Boxwood is a great new plant for the gardener’s palette,” says Stevens. “It has enormous potential for use in a variety of garden designs. It may become a “line” plant in geometric garden designs much like its woody namesake. As a bonus, it also has the aromatic basil scent

‘Calico’ and ‘Purple Flash’ are two new ornamental peppers hitting the market in 2009. Calico is unique with its leaves of white, purple and green while Purple Flash has primarily bright purple leaves with contrasting flecks of white color. “While Black Pearl has been a model of good vigor and dramatic foliage; it now has company with the introduction of Calico and Purple Flash,” says Stevens. “Both of these new ornamental peppers are highly branched, vigorous plants of great color.” Calico comes in at 12-14 inches wide by 14-16 inches high and Purple Flash comes in slightly largerCalico comes in at 12-14 inches wide by 14-16 inches high and Purple Flash comes in slightly larger.

Gary Leuckenotto of Rosehill Landscaping works with outstanding clients such as the Country Club Plaza and Town Centre Plaza. Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ in pots or as a ground cover sports cascading silver foliage resilient to foot traffic. In sun or in partial shade locations, this variety develops into a 3”- 4” high plant with a spread of 2’ in a typical growing season. "We have been looking for a border plant to provide contrast and durability while not overwhelming container arrangements. This is a gem as it behaves and does not look “tired” midway through the growing season " Gary says ‘Silver Falls’ was displayed beautifully as a curbside edging last season at Ruth Island on the Country Club Plaza, located at Wyandotte and Nichols Road.

‘Big’ Series Begonia performs in sun or partial shade with waxy, bronze-green leaves and pink-coral blooms as large as golf balls. This 2-1/2- to 3-foot plant works well in both garden soil or containers and doesn't need the dead heading of spent blossoms. You can use this Begonia with Diamond Frost Euphorbia and Scaevola for a fantastic pot combination. "The coral-pink is our favorite in the series,” explains Leuckenotto. “It does not have a washed-out bloom color and blends with other colors in borders much better than the red-orange of typical Dragon Wing Begonias.”Leuckenotto predicts that the “Big” Series Begonias will be a popular choice this season. “We did not have a large supply of the “Big” Begonias in 2008, but with their proven performance this year as centerpieces in pots we plan to step up their quantities considerably in 2009" he said.

potato A true breeding breakthrough from my native Australia is Ptilotus ‘Joey'. Rita Arnold of Arnold Greenhouses in Leroy, KS describes ‘Joey’ as “an annual flower sporting a compact habit of 12-18" wide and the same around. The large conical flower spikes are glistening silver with darker neon pink color near the tips.” Arnold says, “This variety performs well as an accent in combinations such as Eucalyptus cinerea, Pentas 'Butterfly Light Lavender’, and Salvia 'Evolution'.”

All six of these annuals provide the versatility of use as a container or bedding plant. Consider using these varieties in both containers and as bedding plants in the same garden to provide a repetition of bloom and foliage. So use your budgeted dollars wisely for annuals this season and pray for our economy to turn around by next spring in time for larger investments of perennials and beyond.

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