There is a small plot at the north end of all of the rest of the gardens at the back of our property where I've designated space for annuals. I grow them other places, but with the exception of some very bright asiatic lilies, everything that grows in this spot gets planted fresh every year. This is only the second year that we've had this bed, but I doubt it will ever be as pretty as it is this year. It's so vibrant and alive, you nearly need sunglasses to look at it.
The first thing you'll notice is the cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus 'Ladybird Mix'). Due to a mix-up on my part - mark this down - I was wrong! - I thought I'd planted marigolds here and when these started blooming I thought I could like marigolds again.
Then Kim and Alyssa alerted me to the fact that these are cosmos, and that's why I thought they looked like cosmos. Because they are!
I did plant some marigolds ('Disco Mix'), but they apparently didn't come up and that's why I have a big blank spot elsewhere in the garden. It's the place where the marigolds aren't growing.
I will, for the rest of my life, plant these cosmos. The color hues of these things are just right and they don't get ridiculously tall and flop over like other cosmos I've grown. They bloom like crazy, and keep doing it. They're show-stoppers and heartbreakingly cheerful.
Next to the marigolds are zinnias that are a mix that I put together. If you recall, I don't care for pink zinnias, so I bought individual colors and mixed the seeds together.
Behind the zinnias and the marigolds are the lipstick red hardy gladiolus 'Atom' (Gladiolus x hortulanus).I grew these last year, too, but they were tucked in behind the cosmos and zinnias that I'd mixed together that grew like they were on steroids, so we didn't get to enjoy them unless I cut them and put them in a vase (which I did).
They're charming and delicate, looking more like a species-type version of traditional glads, and with a picotee white edge. Though they're called hardy, they aren't in our zone (5), so I have to lift them in the fall and store them through winter, but they're worth the effort.
To the left of these are more zinnias (Zinnia haageana), this time 'Chippendale.' They look sort of like marigolds - the kind I don't particularly like - but I love these! Go figure. I grew these last year also, and I saved the seed so that I could grow them again this year. They appear in a delightful mix of oranges, reds, and golds and the flower heads are quite small, being about an inch-and-a-half in diameter and 12-18 inches tall overall.
Behind 'Chippendale' is a mix of sunflowers (Helianthus sp.). I tried to plant shorter varieties this year than last, but I don't know what happened. They're taller than ever. One is even at nine feet right now.
The birds and the bees love these. When the petals fall off, I cut the flower heads off and lay them on a small utility table we keep nearby for when we use the fire pit. The birds don't care if the heads are attached to the stems, judging by the amount of the seed shells on that table!
I've got some cannas planted in this bed, too, but they aren't blooming yet. This is the first year I've ever grown them. I remember how my dad grew them in a circular garden between our house and my grandma's when she lived next door. They were bright red and there were lots of them. They were always so pretty. I chose 'Lippo' and 'Gaiety' which are each a yellow and red combination.
Now somehow I managed to sink some dahlias ('Peaches & Cream') in here at some point, but I forgot that I had planted them, so I now have these dahlias blooming and they don't really go with anything else here, but I'm not about to dig them up now.
In the middle of all this is a dead pine tree, which is all that is left of a sapling that Kara brought home when she was in the sixth grade (1991-92). It grew very quickly and became a lovely tree until it decided to die two years ago. Instead of cutting it all the way down, Romie left about four feet of it and we put a decorative birdhouse on top of it that my mom didn't want anymore. This spring, wrens made a nest inside the birdhouse and raised their family there.
Below that are directional markers painted in bright colors with the names of towns where family live and how far they are away from here.
I planted cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) by seed at the base and it is now climbing up and around the tree.
This is just how I envisioned this part of the garden, but I'm rather surprised that it turned out this well. I wanted something that screamed "SUMMER!" and for me, this does it. And you probably won't be surprised to find out that the hummingbirds approve, too.