Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Leave Room In Your Garden For Annuals!

New border in my garden with annual echiums and Ursinia anthemoides

Self sown Clarkia unguiculata in my garden

Anchusa capensis and self sown wallflowers in my garden

Collinsia heterophylla in my garden

Phacelia campanulata in my garden

Self sown California poppies and echiums in my garden (along with some alstroemerias)

     One way in which my gardening style has changed over the years is that I am much more open to serendipidy in the garden.  It used to be, when I first started gardening,  I planned everything out in my head, and then I adhered to the gardening adage that used to be in vogue, particularly with respect to English style gardens, that no bare soil should show in a garden.  I no longer think that way of planting is the way to go.  Ever since I discovered the joy of annuals, particularly annuals grown from either self sowers or by sowing purchased seed directly in the garden, I have seen that there is a need to have some bare space in a garden.  Otherwise, where would there be room for annuals?
     And the great thing about annuals is that you can acquire mass quantities of plants for only the price of seed, that you can drastically change the look of the garden from year to year, and even from season to season, and that you can be free to experiment.  Furthermore, by using annuals you do not have to buy large more permanent plants to cover bare spots, but instead can simply sow annual seeds in those bare spots while you wait for your permanent plants to grow.
     In the top picture above, there is an image of a bed in my new garden that I just prepared this year.  I took up some sod to make it and added a lot of the compost/sand mix that I have been using in my garden.  I then planted some more permanent plants in the bed, such as restios, a Tiger Eyes sumac, some Blue Leap agapanthus, and some penstemons.  There still was a lot of bare space, so I took some seed of Ursinia anthemoides (an orange flowered daisy from South Africa which I previously blogged about here), and an Echium plantangineum Rose Bedder that I had gotten from Outside Pride, and sprinkled it over the area.  That is all I did. I did not add anything over the top, nor did I press the seed into the ground.  Anyway, the plants came up like gangbusters, and the only thing I have had to do since is thin the seedlings a few times, and make sure the area is weeded.  I did all this quite late in the season--probably in June, but the flowers are now coming into bloom in a very gratifying way.  The Rose Bedder Echium is not very rose, but that does not really matter to the look I was going after.  Anyway, this experience tells me that in our climate, with its very long growing season, annuals can be sowed in waves--some early and some late--to get a continuous wave of color in the garden.
     I am particularly taken with the more wild annuals, not the lumpy tame looking ones so often found in nurseries.  In this I have been greatly influenced by Annie's Annuals.  Some of the ones I am particularly fond of include California poppies of various colors, Ursinia anthemoides, Collinsia heterophylla (a California native pictured above), Phacelia campanularia which I previously blogged about here, clarkias of various sorts, and Anchusa capensis (which may technically be perennial, but acts like an annual here).  I will be writing a separate blog post about Anchusa capensis soon.  Two of my favorite sources for annual seeds are Larner Seeds, which specializes in California native seeds, and Outside Pride, an Oregon seed company which carries a wide range of annuals.  Both companies send large amounts of seed in each packet, which I cannot say about all seed companies.  Also, Seedhunt is another good source, particularly for California native seed.  There are many other seed companies, and sometimes it pays to just spend some time googling them, which is what I often do to while away the time while I am drinking coffee in the morning.


  1. Wow !! Such an amazing garden !!

  2. A great discussion of an approach that isn't much discussed. I vacillate constantly between leaving room for spring annuals and covering the ground with every last one of the great structural plants I can get my hands on. I'm loving getting reports on the new garden!