It's the Plants, Darling

Old-fashioned annuals are awesome


Sometimes my experience with these falls under the “interesting” category rather than “delightful,” but this year I am very pleased with the results from two starts I got from Select Seeds in the spring.

This Martha Washington geranium (developed c. 1870s) is better than anything I can get in local nurseries. SS calls it “Gardener’s Joy.”


And you probably recall my ravings about the sacrifices made to get over-blooming, voluptuous masses of petunias. I love the various Waves for public plantings, but for my own yard, I like older varieties that don’t bloom nearly as much but have a scent, like the deep violet ones you can still get at many nurseries, or the “Rainmaster” whites, which have a light, sweet fragrance, especially at night. Their upright growth is perfect for me since I’ve got them in a container on the pavement.


Other old timey annuals I’d find it hard to get along without include my tall, branching heliotrope and my “outhouse flower”—rudbeckia laciniata “Golden Glow.” The image above is from last year; they are much taller this year. Nine feet easy, I’d say.

Posted by on July 18, 2011 at 10:00 am, in the category It's the Plants, Darling.
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10 responses to “Old-fashioned annuals are awesome”

  1. Astra says:

    I love Select Seeds. Some of my can’t-do-withouts: nicotiana, evening scented stock, Lauren’s Grape poppy, and love-in-a-mist. Those petunias are great too.

  2. Brenda says:

    I need to tell you about my Martha Washington geranium that I found. It smells divine. Its like smelling lemon zest and the best part is that it keeps the mosquitoes away.

  3. I am a huge fan of growing from seed. Economical, too! I’ll have to look into the varieties you have shown here.

    Nigella, California poppies, larkspur, rose campion (returns for me and I collect the seeds to give away) and perennial flax are my “go to” seeds for spring blooms. In summer, Benary’s Giant zinnias, cleome, alyssum (favorite), annual BES.

  4. Thou forgot-est my favorite annual: Sweet Peas. For a crimson one, see:

  5. Lisa says:

    I love the beautiful flower on the first photo. Captured perfectly.

    Lisa from Acoustic Guitar Lessons

  6. tropaeolum says:

    I’m growing petunias from seeds that I gathered last year in South Carolina. I used to see them at old home sites in SC and GA. They aren’t as compact as the newer cultivars, but they are pretty and smell heavenly.

  7. commonweeder says:

    I get my Sweet Peas from Renee’s Garden. They are always beautiful!

  8. Sandra Knauf says:

    What a delicious first photo! I envy your 9′ rudbeckia (almost an impossibility here in Colorado). Yes–poppies (Lauren’s Grape is my favorite too), nigella, zinnias sweet peas, sunflowers. I grew mignonette a couple of times and loved the raspberry scent; insignificant flowers but magical.

  9. Cheryl M says:

    the rudbeckia you mention is a perennial z2-9, just in case you have been ripping it out and re-seeding every year, I am a huge devotee of old fahioned plants (annual and perennial) and an admirer of the petunias, but do the older varieities have to be dead headed?

  10. Carolyn says:

    *Shhh*…don’t tell my Martha Washington pelargonium/geranium she’s an annual. Mine has been around for 7 or 8 years. Don’t want her to get any ideas about exit strategies.