Designing With Annuals and Perennials

Does your perennial bed cry out for color during that stretch of summer between Independence Day and Labor Day? Then plant some annuals. They flourish in hot weather, high humidity, and even drought. Plus, its easy to add annuals right where you need a punch of color. And if you don't like the combinations you create, it's easy enough to switch things up next year.

We've matched some commonly grown midsummer perennials with annual plants whose color, height, or structure look good together.

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida). 'Bright Lights' cosmos, globe amaranth, tall cigar plant, and salvias all have colors and shapes that play well off those challenging yellow-orange petals with black centers.

Catmint (Nepeta). Unless it's cut back in late spring, catmint goes to ground—that is, it flops. Let it recline on a chartreuse sweet potato vine (used as a groundcover). Also try 'Profusion White' zinnia or annual black-eyed Susan. Cardoon echos the catmint's silvery foliage, but contrasts in size and shape.

Coneflower (Echinacea). These look stiff and brittle to me, so I surround them with plants that look like they're giving them a hug: pincushion flower, lantanas, tropical smoketree.

Coreopsis. Most coreopsis, be they bigleaf or threadleaf, have yellow or gold flowers, so anything that flowers in blue or purple looks good, including angelonia or salvias. Cigar plant flowers in orange and yellow-pink, so it harmonizes and contrasts at the same time.

Daylilies (Hemerocallis). The straplike foliage contrasts well with copperleaf, dragon wing begonia, and anything else that grows up instead of down.

Lilies (Lilium). Upright growers with trumpet-shaped flowers that emerge along the top of the stalk. Cover their spindly stems with full foliage: tropical smoketree, flowering tobacco, taro, copperleaf.

Rose campion (Lychnis). Soften the screaming magenta flowers of rose campion with spider flower, 'Ace of Spades' pincushion flower, or beets. (Yes, beets. 'Bull's Blood' and 'Ruby Queen' have terrific red leaves.)

Russian sage (Perovskia). Sprawling, weedy-looking Russian sage works alongside any daisylike annual, hyacinth bean vine, sweet potato vine, or annual black-eyed Susan.

Source: www.organicgardening.com


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  • Avatar sharbysyd Where are some good sites on the internet to help me design my flower garden?
    Jul 08, 2007 by sharbysyd | Posted in Garden & Landscape

    I'm realizing that I'm not very good at designing our flower garden and I thought maybe I could get some help online. I'm working with annual flowers right now. I did a search and found a couple of sites, but I'm looking for something simple - maybe with pictures and simple information. Any helpful sites would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • I agree with that guy! He said all that i would have said if i got here first! Too bad i didnt.... that is some great advice! You should listen to him! I love flower gardens but they are hard sometimes to decorate!...You …figure it out. And it could be really hot so you dont even want to even try and do anything with it so it just looks terrible...you should get on decorating your garden and mabey get off the computer?...lol..jp....Cassie