10 less com­mon an­nu­als

Alberta Gardener Magazine - - Garden Market -

by Dorothy Dob­bie

There are gar­den­ers who would rather die than be seen with com­mon an­nu­als like im­pa­tiens or petu­nias in their yards, but what else pro­vides so much colour and ver­sa­til­ity?

Of course there are the even more com­mon gera­ni­ums, pan­sies, snap­drag­ons and cos­mos – “granny flow­ers”, my forty-some­thing daugh­ter Lori calls them.

If you’re tired of the tra­di­tional, you need only head to the gar­den cen­tres. They’re of­fer­ing enough knock-your­socks-off plants to have the neigh­bours oooh-ing and aaah-ing in a cho­rus of con­grat­u­la­tions. A num­ber-one choice is lisianthus

(Eu­stoma gran­di­flo­rum), a bi­en­nial or short-lived peren­nial mem­ber of the gen­tian fam­ily that is mostly grown as an an­nual here. If you want a showy, rose-like blos­som on a her­ba­ceous plant, then you can’t go wrong with this beauty. It blooms best later in the sea­son and will keep it up un­til frost with several blos­soms on each blue­green stem dec­o­rated with well be­haved leaves. There are both long-stemmed and dwarf va­ri­eties and they grow well in the gar­den and in con­tain­ers.

Salvia fari­nacea ‘Vic­to­ria Blue’ is a peren­nial in Zones 7 to 8, but can be used as an an­nual. Also called mealy cup sage, its stems and leaves are a lovely grey-blue that sup­port spires of pale to dark blue all sum­mer. It par­tic­u­larly loves the later months from Au­gust and on­wards. Its tall form makes an ideal cen­tre in a mixed con­tainer.

Brachy­come or Swan River daisy puts out masses of del­i­cate, dai­sy­like flow­ers in blues, mauves and whites from ferny fo­liage. Grow­ing to a height of only 10 inches, this pretty plant loves well drained soil in di­rect sun­light. It does very well in con­tain­ers. Go bananas for a trop­i­cal look. Or­na­men­tal bananas (Musa en­seta) are fab­u­lously easy to grow large-leafed plants that add a spe­cial zing to a so­phis­ti­cated pa­tio. Really a peren­nial that will grow to 20 feet in a so­lar­ium, this banana plant will reach two to three feet in one sea­son to make an ex­otic state­ment in a planter. It’s happy in sun to light shade and will eas­ily over­win­ter in a bright room.

Lisianthus.

Brachy­come (swan river daisy).

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