Sunday, July 11, 2010

From Anagallis to Zaluzianskya at Annie's Annuals

Boy did I see some beautiful things at the annual 'Art in the Garden' party at Annie's Annuals & Perennials in Richmond, CA this weekend. Sunny skies, temps in the 70s after a foggy morning, and a light breeze made for a delightful couple of hours. Any of their weekend parties is a fun outing; if you live in the Bay Area a visit is definitely worth the drive. Go with a group so you can 'ooh' and 'ahh' together. Call ahead to see when Annie Hayes herself is there; a romp through the gardens and nursery with this flower child is not to be missed.

Many of their flowers are rarities I had never seen before, and yet could take home in a frugal little 4" pot if I liked. So feast your eyes; a full description of every one of these plants can be found on Annie's excellent website. I particularly appreciate their 'Totally Useful Plant Lists' because, let's face it, they have a shitload of plants, and you've got to narrow things down somehow! Here's what caught my eye yesterday...

This charming, long-blooming ball of blue is Blue Pimpernel (Anagallis monellii) a tender perennial in Zones 9-11. I would love to use this in containers, true blue is hard to find!

In fact, it would look lovely with Ruffled Snapdragon, (Antirrhinum 'Double Azalea Apricot') what a looker!

It's July and warmer colors seem to dominate, like this Calceolaria integrifolia 'Kentish Hero.' A favorite of the staff at Annie's because it has not been "bred into weak, boinky oblivion!"

But the sweet pastels of spring can still be found, perhaps with a bit more attitude, like this Corydalis sempervirens.

LOVED Crassula erosula 'Campfire' what a perfect name!

Cuphea 'Strybing Sunset' is a surprisingly low-key little plant, given the  hot colors of the flowers; their small scale and the freshness of the foliage give it lightness.

I like how you'll never find two blooms exactly alike on the statuesque Dahlia coccinea; each has their own personality.

Uruguayan Firecracker Plant (Dicliptera suberecta) lives up to its, um, perky name! This one likes heat and humidity and is hardy to Zone 7.

I loved this perennial foxglove from Spain (who just won the World Cup! Well done!) Digitalis obscura is hardy to Zone 4; loves sun, sips water! And is now on my wish-list.

Ahh, I'm so glad I added this lovely native to my garden this year, Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick' named for a legendary California plantsman who died in 2003.

Here's another native for my list. Red Buckwheat (Eriogonum grande rubescens) likes dry clay soil and not much summer water once established. AND it has a long bloom period, summer to fall. Want.

Given that my Ghost Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica 'Sharpitor') is less than a foot tall, I was pleased to find this strapping six-foot specimen living happily in full sun. It looks so delicate!

A perky red perennial for dry shade? Yes please! Island Bush Snapdragon (Galvezia speciosa) is another lovely native from the Channel Islands that likes poor soil and little water.

There's a large specimen of Coastal Gum Plant (Grindelia arenicola) near the front gate at Annie's; little native bees practically bathe in the pollen (as you can see!) With a May-October bloom period this native would be a great addition to a habitat garden.

Another kicky red native hummingbird magnet for dry shade? Heartleaf Penstemon (Keckiella cordifolia) is going on my list too.

Whew, thank goodness we've reached the letter 'L' so we can cool down with a shot of Lobelia valida, a Zone 5 Hardy perennial that likes good drainage; it would be perfect in a container.

Marigold 'Harlequin' is an antique from 1870 enjoying a revival; makes a big rounded bush with these great stripey flowers!

Another cool breath of blue, this time from Monardella undulata, a rare native bee-balm. This will grow in almost pure sand near the coast; grows more lush in garden soil.

Cheerful nasturtiums, one of my favorite flowers.

This is the only plant I purchased this visit (several from my over-ambitious LAST purchase did not survive my neglect, so one was my limit this time). Nicotiana mutabilis is a tall, free-branching flowering tobacco with flowers that age from white to dark pink. I'm planting it near my porch to lure hummingbirds into close camera range!

Large containers of Red Chief and Apricot Chiffon California Poppies (Escholtzia sp.) just show you what our state flower can do, given some encouragement!

I liked this interesting Tibetan Primrose (Primula capitata), which is best in rich soil and part shade, perfect to tuck in up-close places like a shady patio with ferns. Hardy to Zone 5.

I was just thinking about Salpiglossis recently, remembering that it was one of the annuals I used to grow from seed, because I could never find nice ones in the nursery.  Annie's had several lovelies, including this wild collected strain of Salpiglossis sinuata from Chile. It will bloom all summer IF it's happy!

I enjoy the pungence of Salvia clevelandii in verrry small doses; it is a quintessential California scent. Was interested to see this variety, Salvia leucophylla x clevelandii 'Pozo Blue' which is more tolerant of summer water than the species, and has a softer scent.

The only plant I couldn't identify, it looks like a lovely yellow Salvia.

Probably a good contender for most intense flower of the day, this Butterfly Flower (Schizanthus grahamii), an annual for dappled shade, really has to be experienced in person to believe. Makes me think of cartoon clowns!

Certainly the winner for most bizarre plant in the place, Porcupine Tomato (Solanum pyracanthum) is a tender perennial with the craziest orange spines along the veins of its blue-green leaves. Click the photo to enlarge, see link for a picture in bloom.

Whew! Safely back to the soft yellow flowers of Verbascum 'Cotswald King.' At first I thought it was a Hollyhock! This species Verbascum is a biennial that comes true from seed, and is snail resistant (sold!)

Winding down for a cool, blue finish with Corsican Violet (Viola corsica) a shade perennial that reseeds nicely.

And a drumroll please for our final plant, with the unfortunate common name of 'Southern Lilac Drumsticks' (Zaluzianskya villosa) a perky annual from South Africa with flowers that look like they should be sprinkled on a cake.

Please enjoy your own visit to Annie's via these links; they'll be happy to ship plants to you with great care. And California gardeners, start planning your pilgrimage!


  1. I always love your posts! Beautiful flowers. I want to take a trip to Annies, it's only a 30 minute drive from me and I've never been there, but heard so much about it in blogland! My favorite is "Campfire"!!!

  2. Well yes then you must go, it's a 130-mile drive for me round trip, but always worthwhile!

  3. I would love the Tibetan primrose, and it's hardy to zone 5 ... but even in the best of years, I don't have enough moisture. I did buy one of the pink and yellow corydalis plants this spring. I hope it'll be hardier than it's blue cousins. Laura, it's fun to see what's growing on the other side of the country.

  4. You are so lucky to live within driving distance. I would be so broke if I did.

  5. Hey Laura, we headed there last Saturday and had a great time. Love your pics. We have one of those Solanum pyracanthum now for about last fall. It put on a lot of growth...until it started to wilt. We suspect it was a gopher attack...but seems to slowly be making a comeback. Matti

  6. These are all extraordinary, Wow! what a fantastic array of beauties. I have to say that the blue pimpernel is exquisite. The color is so rich and vibrant, I just love those. The foxgloves and violets are always such a treat to see. Wonderful photos. And,oh, love the busy bee :)

  7. What a heroic post, what stamina, to winnow AA down into an A to Z list! I'm embarrassed to admit how many of these plants are in my garden. In fact, just brought that corydalis home recently.

  8. We picked up a Cuphea 'Strybing Sunset' among others on Saturday :) Great pics!

  9. @Kari, good to know your limits, some choice plants I will just admire in photos!

    @Loree (they ship!!)

    @Matti & Megan, that's the 3rd time I've missed you guys (Norcal, SFGS, before) we need to coordinate!

    @Poetic, thanks! That bee was hard to get, this is the only clear shot, but SO cute!

    @Denise, this isn't the half of it! I also posted an album on my FB page ( with more pictures of the gardens. It's rather overwhelming...

  10. Ohhh, Ahhh, Sure wish I could have been there. One day I'll make the trip again... But right now, I don't even want to be tempted, so enjoying your beautiful photos is perfect.

  11. Wow, what a list! I can attest to the fabulousness of the Blue Pimpernell- I planted a bunch of it mixed with Chamomile ground cover and red Geum. A circus of primary colors! I love that you included so many late-blooming natives, too!

  12. Nice blog!

    Found you while researching Annie's plants. Was all set to tell danger garden about you, but see it's impossible to scoop Loree.

  13. Great blog, and love your photos!