Spring is the time to dream in flowers. All of the plants here at the nursery are beginning to burst forward with a promise of abundant spring blossoms. I love looking for new, unusual, and long forgotten plants that create excitement in the landscape. That is when I turn to our good friends Annie's Annuals for their prolific assortment of heirloom annuals and perennials. Some of you may be familiar with them because you have purchased their products through mail order. Others may be fortunate enough to have visited their grounds which are fully planted.
Annie's Annuals labels themselves as a growing urban nursery in Richmond California. I see them as plant connoisseurs who are constantly on the lookout for the most unusual, delightful, and pleasing plants you can have accompany your garden. While many plant propagators look toward the hybrid varieties that have a compact growth habit, Annie's seeks out the old fashioned varieties that are pleasing in the landscape. 20 years ago this company began as an enthusiastic hobby, now it has progressed into the vast 2 ½ acre display it is today.
Their plants look unassuming, only sold in four inch containers. Simple green stems with a non-distinct display of foliage when compared to other annuals and perennials at the nursery. They look rather average, something you would do at home. This presentation is a result of intentional propagation to give their customers the highest level of success one could ask for. With the exception of a few cold tender varieties, their plants are all started outdoors to acclimate them to natural conditions. To many large scale wholesale nurseries, this is a very non-traditional method, especially when selling small four inch containers. Most keep their plants in a greenhouse with perfect conditions until it is time to ship out. Because of this, other grower's plants will appear healthier on face value, but when incorporated in the landscape the harsh reality of the outdoors causes them to initially go into shock. Annie's quickly acclimate to their new home, pushing out new roots and flourishing immediately. Another main component that differentiates Annie's is their application of nutritional supplements. They operate on the principle of less is more, providing young plant's with the appropriate amount of slow release fertilizer and fish emulsion. Without a constant regimen of high nitrogen fertilizer their plants do not have a lot of dense foliage or abundant blooms when purchased. Although it may look good to buy a showy annual or perennial, most of the plant's energy is spent by the time you take it home and has difficulty establishing new roots.
We just received two shipments of Annie's in at The Gardens and here are just a few that I am particularly excited about.
Achillea 'Rosa Marie' - Yarrow
This is a new variety of Yarrow that is a showstopper. An evergreen variety and blooms continually spring through fall stays a nice tidy 18" tall and 24" wide. I love incorporating Yarrow in cut flower arrangements, or drying the stem and using it as a garnish on gifts.
Angelica stricta 'Purpurea'
This rare Angelica is knockout in the garden. It quickly reached four feet tall and three feet wide needs full sun and regular water. The deep purple foliage and 4" wide violate purple flowers make this a unique specimen within the landscape.
Hypericum cerastoides 'Silvana'
St. John's Wort
A bright and sunny ground cover to trail its way through your garden. Yellow flowers cover this tidy plant spring through summer while it maintains a compact 4" tall and 16" wide habit. Add along your pathways or include in a hanging basket.
Who doesn't enjoy a plethora of cute daisy-like flowers? This spring bloomer reaches three feet tall and wide and is COVERED in pale purple 2" blossoms.
Clarkia amoena 'Aurora' – Farewell to Spring
Blooming late spring, this Clarkia is loaded with 6" blush pink flowers. Maturing to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide you will be impressed with the surprise of flowers that greet you every year.
Delphinium 'Cobalt Blue'
This massive 6 foot bloomer exhibits a stunning deep blue flower. Multiple flower spikes will adorn this gorgeous plant spring and summer for loads of cut flower arrangements.
Follow these essential planting techniques to ensure the best in your plants.
Step1: Backfill with soil amendment. For flowers and vegetables I recommend using Harvest Supreme. It has wood products, rice hulls and 15% chicken manure to give your plants a jump start.
Step 2: Fertilize. Use a good quality organic fertilizer that wont burn your plants. Avoid products high in nitrogen like Miracle-Gro that will primarily promote leaf growth. You want healthy stems and roots before blossoms.
Step 3: Top dress Add bark or humus to the top 2" of your soil to insulate the soil from water evaporating out, heat getting in, and weeds from germinating. Stop by The Gardens to see all the new and exciting spring bloomers to add to your landscape. Now is the time to plant, don't let the season pass you by!
**all images by Annie's Annuals