While the large island border is always a reliable kaleidoscope of color and texture at this time of year (see photo above), I have a smaller planting bed next to our main patio that is rather more fickle. It receives blazing sun all day, has terrible, sticky, clay soil, is a magnet for rabbits and deer, and has no irrigation (except for the container in the center of the bed). It is also in prime view from our kitchen! In other words it's a challenging area to plant and a tough spot for poor performers to hide. Most sensible people would plant tried-and-tested stalwarts. Me? To the few grasses, perennials, and shrubs (Weigela 'Spilled Wine, Lonicera 'Twiggy', and Berberis 'Golden Ruby') that have been there for a few years I added several "trial plants" plus a handful of home grown zinnia seedlings – and then left town for almost two weeks. Oops.
The results? See for yourself. No primping, deadheading or mollycoddling for these photographs either.
Cut Flowers that Sizzle
I sprayed the variegated sedum with Deer Out several months ago and protected the emerging coneflowers from rabbits with an old basket cage in spring, but other than that these have all been easy care.
Benary's Giant Coral zinnias are outstanding, multi-branched without any pinching, and continue to bloom even though they haven't been deadheaded. I grew these from seed and set them out at the very beginning of June.
Suncredible sunflower from Proven Winners should be on everyone's shopping list next year. This is just ONE plant, originally a quart size if I remember correctly. It has been blooming for months, has never been deadheaded, and best of all, each flower is on a stem long enough for cutting. It is also so much easier to harvest the cut flowers as the entire plant is only about 4 feet tall.
No spraying, no staking, no watering after the first two weeks….. truly, quite exceptional.
The coneflower you see in the combination is Sombrero Salsa Red, a perennial that I added last year. It was good last year. It is AMAZING this year!
This is more of an orange-red than blue-red so works surprisingly well in the same border as my coral zinnia. While some coneflower varieties seem to peter out after a few years, this is showing great promise.
I like the way these coneflowers fade too – a feature of all the Sombrero series. Lots of different tones all at once.
Tucked in front of the sunflowers I shoe-horned in another Proven Winners sample so I could keep an eye on it.
The latest annual salvia, Rockin' Blue Suede Shoes has lighter colored flowers than previous introductions. It's a bit squished to be honest so would probably have produced more flowers had I given it some elbow room! I certainly like it enough though that I will consider it for displays again next year.
Fall Container Contenders
These late season superstars are ideal for your fall containers too. In fact I used Sombrero Hot Coral coneflower in one of the two designs featured in my latest online workshop Fabulous Fall Containers. You can find out more using the link below.
Enjoy the rich colors of the season! I'm off to Utah, Georgia, DC and Pennsylvania this month - I'll be taking lots of photos to share with you!