Annual Explosion


It’s taken several years, but I’ve finally come around to using annuals in pots on our backyard patio. For quite some time, I was a perennial snob, not bothering with planting those flowers that could only last for a single season. I liked how the perennials got going as soon as they could – they didn’t need to wait for frost-free days, they just waited for their nature cycle to begin. There was no guess work or worry – and whatever happened regarding late frosts or snowstorms was something we could not control. It was risky, but the pay-off was substantial. An established swath of coneflowers or Helianthus could get a head start and fill in sooner than a patch of zinnias.

This was, however, mostly in my head. Most annuals, given their short life cycle, grow much quicker than their perennial counterparts. They have no choice but to make up the time, and because of that they can fill in a space sooner than one expects.

Another mental hurdle I had to overcome was the preconceived notion that pots were insubstantial and pointless. It turns out that the larger ones become integral parts of a landscape, such as in the way something like a mass of sweet potato vines can be completely transformative when softening architectural edges. Those sweet potato vines are currently the bedrock of our backyard patio, forming the living lushness that seamlessly transitions the house to the outside gardens.

This year I also planted some begonias that are taking off quite nicely. Their handsomeness is apparent in both flower and foliage. I’ll coddle and feed them to aid in their swift expansion, as I will do for this hanging fuchsia. A little extra effort reaps great rewards.

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