Saturday, January 14, 2012

Never Say Never!

Can you remember when you first started gardening?  When you didn't know anything about gardening?  Some people start gardening as children and learn things so early on, they may not remember.  But I started gardening late, so everything was a learning experience!  In fact, when I first started gardening, I didn't know the difference between an annual and a perennial.  But I wasn't too proud to ask!

The simple explanation I got was that annuals are plants that bloom for one year.  Perennials are plants that may die down in the winter, but they spring back to life, supposedly perennially.

Easy enough explanation.  So, I made my first gardening rule: never plant annuals.


Why go to all that work and have to do it all over again the next year?  And, generally I still try to follow that rule.  (Have I told you yet that I'm a lazy gardener?)

But there's always an exception to every rule, isn't there?


The exception in my garden is the pansy (viola x wittrockiana).  Although technically a perennial in some southern climates, they are generally used as a winter annual in the south, dug up and replaced when the weather turns warm.  They are hardy to 0 degrees F, and seem to perk up even more as the temperature dips down to freezing.  Which always amazes me.  Of course, they are used differently in northern gardens.

Pansies are technically a member of the Viola genus, which is very diverse.   But I like to think of pansies as the big brother of Johnny Jump Ups (viola tricolor), because so many have a 'face' like Johnny's.


Seriously, who could resist a face like that?

52 comments:

  1. When I first started gardening I said the same thing, why go through all the trouble of planting annuals just to have to plant them again the next year! But I have grown fond of quite a few that tend to reseed and surprise in the garden. I seriously started gardening in my twenties and remember my first real garden. It brought me so much peace. It was quite a few years in between before I was able to have my own garden again.

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    1. Those that reseed are fabulous! Unfortunately, I'm an aggressive weeder and usually realize all those 'weeds' were my baby plants! haha I do much better with shrubs!

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  2. I grew up gardening and my first seeds were annuals. I used to love picking the pansy and viola flower heads and pressing them and then making them into pictures and bookmarks as a child.

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    1. How nice to start with seeds. Having pansy bookmarks sound wonderful! I'm going to do that with my pansies this year!

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  3. Annuals have got their place in most gardens, so handy in filling up spaces too as well as providing changing displays :)

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    1. Yes, they do have a place, and I should probably use them more. Perhaps I'll change my mind about them.

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  4. I grew up around gardening but it was mostly the vegetable garden. Mom never grew flowers and my Grandma's had just a few of the old fashioned varieties around. So when I started flower gardening I was just like you and did not know a perennial from an annual. I had so much to learn and I am still learning. LOL! I love my perennials that are there every year but I like to try annuals too. Every year there are always different varieties and colors to change up the garden scheme. I like the changes I guess. Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. Yes, I can see where annuals make the beds look so much fuller and more colorful, and fill in when other plants are small. I should probably use them more, but I will rarely spend the money for something I think will not last. (I'm thrifty!)

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  5. I save most of my annuals planting for containers. It gives me the opportunity to try new color schemes and combinations. I know we are always moving things around in our perennial beds, but really for the most part they are fairly set with the plants. But with the containers I get to start over and experiment and have a little extra fun. I just never know when the next container is going to catch my eye and come home with me (kind of like the fountain I just bought -- it's a "container" of sorts, right?). The containers just give me more room to have different blooms every year. I kind of poo-pooed bulbs when I first started gardening because they have such a short bloom time, but now I see them as an extension of the bloom in my garden. Yes, they only bloom for a few weeks, but that's a few extra weeks I get to see blooms in my garden. So for the past several years I've been adding more and more :-)

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    1. Now, I think that is the perfect place for annuals - container gardening. I could definitely see doing a lot of containers in annuals and having the color wherever the container was placed. I agree about bulbs. Sometimes I wonder why I bother when their time is so short, but they are impossible to resist!

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  6. Hi Holley, I try to avoid annuals, too, simply because they are to costly for me and I also don't have the time to plant them. I love many annuals, though, especially pansies, violas, cyclamen, lobelias, and petunias. Occasionally I allow myself a few, because I can't resist to put some color in the garden especially in winter. So this year I also planted some white pansies and love them so much. Yours look very nice and healthy!
    Christina

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    1. I bet those white pansies look spectacular in your garden! You have such a great eye for knowing how to have a classic garden.

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  7. Come to think of it, I don't grow many annuals either, apart from pansies and lobelia. Trouble is, with our UK weather recently, a lot of perennials don't survive the winter. Does that make them secret annuals or pretend perennials ?

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    1. Secret annuals - except you don't know the secret until they don't return! I've had a few of those, but mostly when I was pushing the growing zone! Pretend perennials sound terrible, and terribly expensive!

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  8. I generally follow that rule too, but I have three exceptions... I get a couple of double impatiens, a few torenia, and a flat of angelonia... Angelonia being my alltime favorite annual, which I plant in early spring as filler til the perennials fill in the spaces. Works like a charm.

    I have a few reseeders too (cleomi, 4 oclocks and morning glories), which I don't exactly count as annuals seeing as they never go away. They are just more multigenerational!

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    1. Sounds like you have annual planting down pat. Perhaps I will eventually figure out exactly which annuals I want, and keep to a list. Morning glories are terribly invasive here - I made that mistake once! I've been trying to kill the 4 o'clocks for several years now, too. I don't count plants that reseed that freely as annuals, either! They are around 'perennially'! :)

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  9. I seem to remember thinking something similar about annuals and perennials, why would I plant something that dies. Then somewhere along the line I found all the outrageous annuals available, every colour of the rainbow, and how great they are in containers and filling in spaces and how they often reseed themselves and I've been hooked since!

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    1. Well, I suppose there's always the possibility I'll change my mind! You make them sound so exotic and desirable!

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  10. I use a combination of both, although most of my plants are perennial. I always plant pentas, zinnias, lantana, impatiens, and sometimes geraniums. I also love pansies!

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    1. Those are some nice annuals. I may have to give annuals a chance!

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  11. I don't grow annuals at all. There's always a perennial to fill the space and I don't have to waste money on annuals. Interesting they bloom in winter for you down there and that some dig them up when it gets warm though.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. It is very interesting to me how people use pansies in their garden, so much different here than in the north. Here, they are such a wonderful plant to see all winter, but they wilt in the heat.

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  12. I never grew annuals until around three years ago for exactly the same reasons you mentioned. I just couldn't imagine putting in that much effort and spending money on something that would have to be thrown out in a couple of months. Now, of course, I can not go without Pansies every year. Pansies and Violas! They are must-haves for me now!

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one that had that gardening rule! Not only for the expense, but I also hate to see them die off every year. Of course, I know that's their nature, but it's still a sense of disappointment.

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  13. Like several of the others who comment, I tend to plant annuals in containers. And also in my small kitchen garden. They make excellent companions and keep pests away from my veggies. Marigolds and Zinnias keep a lot of bugs away, and Snapdragons add nitrogen back to the soil to enrich it for other plants and veggies. I don't use chemical pesticides and herbicides--instead I use plants to do the work. So there will always be a place in my garden for annuals, (especially in zone 5!). But I rarely plant annuals in my perennial gardens. This is a great post!

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    1. I bet your vegetable garden is gorgeous, too! I haven't tried planting flowers in with my vegetables. And thanks for the information about snapdragons and nitrogen!

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  14. I don't grow many annuals for the same reasons, and the ones I do grow I start from seed. I just can't see going to the expense of 6-packs when there are perennials I'd rather have, and seeds are cheap. Like others have said, they work great in containers and the veg garden, especially marigolds and chamomile. I never grow enough chamomile to make tea, but I love running my hands over the flowers for their fragrance.

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    1. I need to get more into growing things from seed. I am going to give that a try this year!

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  15. I have the same rule as it seems many have here; I only grow a few annuals and when I grow them they are in containers. My window baskets are currently full of pinks and pansies, in full flower, in London, so Holley, I do make an exception for pansies too :-)

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    1. I think pansies must be the number 1 exception to that rule!

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  16. I prefer to spend my money on perennials but I do buy annuals. The pansy is one that I've never been pleased with here however this year I am loving the blue ones I bought and they are blooming. Yay.

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    1. I have a few blue ones mixed in. They are such a delicate shade. Much prettier than some of the brighter colored pansies. I drove by a restaurant that had an entire bed filled with blue pansies. It was gorgeous!

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  17. Me too Holley.... I love Pansies with a passion. They are just so pretty. We plant them willingly every year....

    Have a great weekend.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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    1. No one can resist their smiling faces! ;)

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  18. Mostly, my annuals get planted in containers, but I do plant pansies in the ground because they come back next year from seed. But the little Johnny Jump Ups petered out over the years and I really like them too.

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    1. I think pansies would come back here, and I believe they are actually listed as a perennial in my zone, but no one treats them that way here. They pull them up as soon as they start to wilt and put in something else. Little Johnny Jump Ups are my favorite, but I've only grown them a couple of years.

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  19. Pansies and violas are lovely, and they look fab in your photos. I came late into gardening too. I remember taking an indoor spider plant to a horticultural group meeting for a plant swap (thinking I was so proud to have grown it)... however a few members of the group were slightly disgusted I had brought a common 'spider plant'. Funny huh - I had no idea they were so easy to grow. lol :)

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    1. Well, I don't have a spider plant, so I would have been thrilled to have swapped for that!

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  20. I started gardening in the 80s and have been addicted ever since. LOL Pansies are so pretty, with their beautiful designs. I love starting seedlings indoors in late winter and early spring, watching them sprout and grow. It satisfies my gardening cravings since it's too cold to do anything outside. I start my annuals this way, to save money. Zinnias are my fave, and the butterflies love them.

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    1. I have grown vegetables from seed, but this year I'm going to grow some flowers from seed, too. I can't wait to see their little sprouts come up!

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  21. Yes Holly. I remember the days when we would search for perennials which would match the flowering power of the annuals, not so easy to do. Violas and pansies should be in every garden though.

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    1. That is one thing about annuals - they bloom and bloom and bloom! You're right about nothing quite matching their flowering power!

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  22. Pansies are a favorite of mine but I've given up planting them. The deer and ground hog devour them. I have some volunteer violas but I rarely see their little faces. Enjoyed seeing yours.

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    1. You have such problems with deer - and I didn't know you had ground hogs, too! How frustrating to have your sweet blooms eaten!

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  23. Certainly not me...I am going to start these indoors in about a month to plant out in late March. If I plant these in fall, I can expect them to overwinter under now and appear in spring...it is amazing how hardy these flowers are and my fav annual as well.

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    1. I wondered when they were put out in northern climates. So smart to start them in fall and have them magically appear! I wonder if I start them late summer or even late spring if they would do the same for me.

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  24. Ha, I said the same thing when I started gardening - no annuals for me! Then I realized that really annuals gave the most amazing bloom show all throughout our hideously hot summers, and I was hooked. And then I also realized that I can start them from seed and enjoy seed catalogs during the winter, thus extending my gardening season :)

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    1. I think you've got the best plan! I just may have to start giving this a try.

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  25. This is a very interesting post because I DO remember when I started gardening, and it was not long ago! I found something very interesting with my Viola. I had it in a barrel pot outside near the veggie patch and I found that on the ground under the barrel, there grew new Violas - as if they 'dripped off' the mother plant and started growing. I posted one of these in my GBBD post.

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  26. I love Johnny-jump-ups, but cannot grow pansies. I started gardening when I had young children and needed something to do to get us all out of the house!

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    1. I cheat - I buy them as an annual in the garden center every fall! :) I bet your children just loved being outside, and digging in the dirt. Sounds like something all children would love.

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