For Michelle, editor of Gardenista, the springtime evokes such euphoria “that it’s nearly impossible to believe I’ll ever have to live in a post-peony world.” Once June comes around, though, “it’s time to fill – fast – all those big holes the spring bloomers left behind.”
Here, Michelle describes five of her favorites – annuals and a few perennials for a temperate zone. To read her entire list, go to 10 Easy Pieces: Instant Gratification Blooms on Gardenista.
Above: Cleome practically explodes, growing from a seedling to a 5 foot tall preener by August. Although it’s an annual, you’ll probably not need to buy cleome twice; it enthusiastically self sows and will try, next year, to claim the garden for itself. To keep it corralled, pull out unruly volunteers before they develop thick, spiky stalks. A packet of Cleome, Queen Mixed Colors seeds is $3.95 from Burpee. Image via What’s Blooming.
Above: With their strong stems, showy flowers, and propensity for facing you dead-on–as if posing for a model’s headshot–dahlias can pretty much carry the summer garden without any extra help, thank you. The downside is you must dig up tubers in the winter, in climates where temperatures drop below 20 degrees F. For a pink flower the size of a dinner plate, consider Dahlia Otto’s Thrill; it’s $9.95 from White Flower Farm. Image by Lucas Meyer, via Flickr.
Above: In bright sun, Cosmos plays well with others; its delicate, fringed stems won’t overwhelm the flower standing next to it. Pinch back spent blossoms to keep it flowering through late summer. While nurseries tend to sell mixed colors as flats of seedlings, you can order one specific shade from Annie’s Annuals, where for example Cosmos ‘Apricot’ is $7.95 per plant. Image via Moosey’s.
Above: Leggy Verbena spills nicely over the edge of a terra cotta pot; here it’s paired with Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam,’ a tender perennial whose buttery yellow color makes it a favorite of mine although it in no way meets the requirements for “instant gratification.” It’s a terrible baby (for a perennial) and is just as likely to die as return next year. Verbena lilacina ‘De La Mina’ is $7.95 per plant from Annie’s Annuals. Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ ships in fall from White Flower Farm.
Above: Caladium ‘Carolyn Wharton’ is $8.49 for a bag of five bulbs from Eden Brothers.