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...
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!
Ruffled Snapdragon, (Antirrhinum 'Double Azalea Apricot') what a looker!
Calceolaria integrifolia 'Kentish Hero.' A favorite of the staff at Annie's because it has not been "bred into weak, boinky oblivion!"
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.
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.
Digitalis obscura is hardy to Zone 4; loves sun, sips water! And is now on my wish-list.
Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick' named for a legendary California plantsman who died in 2003.
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.
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!
Island Bush Snapdragon (Galvezia speciosa) is another lovely native from the Channel Islands that likes poor soil and little water.
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.
Heartleaf Penstemon (Keckiella cordifolia) is going on my list too.
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!
Monardella undulata, a rare native bee-balm. This will grow in almost pure sand near the coast; grows more lush in garden soil.
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!
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.
Salpiglossis sinuata from Chile. It will bloom all summer IF it's happy!
Salvia leucophylla x clevelandii 'Pozo Blue' which is more tolerant of summer water than the species, and has a softer scent.
Butterfly Flower (Schizanthus grahamii), an annual for dappled shade, really has to be experienced in person to believe. Makes me think of cartoon clowns!
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.
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!)
Corsican Violet (Viola corsica) a shade perennial that reseeds nicely.
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!