Have you ever thought about a flower garden as a source for thoughtful gifts? With so many potential uses, and the side benefit of having a beautiful yard, we think it’s an idea worth considering.
Gardeners love annual flowers for their beauty, variety, and flexibility. They make great additions to container gardens, fill in flowerbeds, and some can fit quite nicely in window boxes. The broad diversity of annuals allows gardeners to create interesting and exciting combinations of flowers that bloom across the Spring and Summer seasons.
That variety also makes annuals a great choice for creating your own fantastic bouquets that you can bring to dinner parties, give to friends and loved ones, or use to decorate your own home.
California’s largely temperate climate provides a lot of flexibility when it comes to planting annual flowers, so there are many annuals that grow well here in the Bay Area. Some of the more common types include:
Cosmos – These plants produce bowl or open cup shaped, daisy-like flowers atop long stems. They come in colors including orange, red, pink, maroon, yellow, and white.
Sunflowers – Big, tall, and bright, sunflowers are the iconic summer flower. Most are yellow, though there are red varieties, and most will grow quite tall (up to 16 ft.). Shorter versions have been developed if height is an issue in your space.
Petunias – A very popular flower, petunias have delicate flowers (that can be prone to damage from heavy rain). Grandiflora petunias have larger flowers, while Multiflora petunias have smaller but more numerous flowers.
Marigolds – Typically known for their gold colored, carnation-like flowers, marigolds come in a number of varieties. French marigolds and rock-garden marigolds offer smaller, daintier flowers. The great thing about marigolds is that they will usually put out bright blooms all summer.
Impatiens – With flowers somewhat like petunias, impatiens make good houseplants due to their preference for shade. They also bloom into the fall, which helps extend the life of your flower garden.
There are also a lot of interesting and more unusual varietals you can use to add a bit of flair:
Zinnias – Zinnias make great cutting flowers. They grow quite quickly and bloom heavily, with a single flower on each stem. Their bright colors can attract butterflies.
Mexican sunflowers – The big yellow Sunflower’s smaller cousin, the tithonia plant has
daisy-like flowers in a variety of colors, typically yellow, orange, and red. This flower is a preferred food for Monarch butterflies.
Lavatera – With abundant blooms of smaller flowers in vibrant lavender shades, these grow into bushy plants that provide plenty of cut flowers.
To add fragrance:
Stock – Stock flowers, also known as Gillyflower or Matthiola incana, produce attractive and interesting flowers in colors like pink, purple, red, and white that also happen to smell wonderful. Stock plants prefer cooler weather.
Reseda (mignonette) – While it may not be the best looking flower of the bunch, Reseda is very well known for its fragrance, having been cultivated for just that reason since before the 1700’s.
Nicotiana – A member of the tobacco family, Nicotiana are another type of fragrant, flowering annual. Their flowers are typically trumpet shaped florets, with lavender, red, rose, pink, white, and yellow colors. The flowers grow on slim stems, and the plants are usually 1 to 3 feet high.
To round out your bouquets, and garden arrangements, you’ll want some attractive foliage:
Caladium – Commonly called Elephant Ears, Caladium’s large colorful leaves really stand out. They typically prefer shade and can work well indoors, although some newer versions can handle some sun.
Coleus – There are low-growing, midsize, and tall types of coleus, with many color and texture variations among them. Bright magenta to buttery yellow, smooth to frilly, coleus can add a lot to a bouquet (or your garden).
Dusty miller – The silvery grey foliage of dusty miller plants provide distinct contrast from other plants and flowers in your garden or bouquet. They hold up well through the summer and can tolerate some frost.
We’re already entering prime season for planting annuals, so don’t wait much longer.
If you need assistance, Bayscape Landscape can provide expert garden planning and installation services.