Seeds and cuttings for another decade

I promised a post on the decade’s best plants and after making an enormous list with Gail’s help, realized that it was too hard to narrow down our favorites to a mere ten. So, because our favorite perennials and shrubs are essentially permanent fixtures in the gardens (if I haven’t talked about them all already, you can be sure I will), and we’re heading into full-on propagation season, I thought it would be much better to give you a list of plants that we actively choose to grow every year. Below is a probably very familiar looking gallery of 10 of our favorite seed annuals and tender perennials that will follow us into the decade. Gail and I can’t imagine the gardens without them. (I know I’ve already talked about a lot of these guys too so I’ll try to be brief…)

5 favorite seed annuals: Nicotiana (sylvestris, mutabilis, ‘Tinkerbell’, ‘Lime Green’…) I love them all and don’t mind doing a little editing whenever they seed themselves around. Asclepias physocarpa ‘Oscar’ (a.k.a. Gomphocarpus physocarpus ‘Hairy Balls’ – Swan plant) I’ve already gone on and on about this one – sturdy, 6′ tall with delicate flowers and weird puff ball seed pods. Pennisetum ruppelianum a.k.a. Pennisetum setaceum – Fountain grass – we love it because it’s a good looking grass that grows into a large graceful clump by August. Gomphrena – globe amaranth. I heart polka-dots and these are just the best cut flower. Zinnia. No garden should be without zinnias. They’re too easy (7 weeks from seed to bloom) and too beautiful. We especially love the Benary series (for tall) and Profusion (for short).

Nicotiana mutabilis and a green lilyGomphocarpus physocarpus 'Hairy balls' Chrysanthemum 'Sheffield Pink', Pennisetum ruppelianum and P. setaceum 'Rubrum'Gomphrena 'Bi-Color Rose'Zinnia - a Benary mix 9-22-09

5 favorite tender perennials: Stachytarpheta – Porterweed. On a fast-growing to 3′ plant, inconspicuous flowers climb a green stem spike. Weird = love. Plectranthus fruticosus – we grow it for matte green foliage with purple undersides and love it for the very late (Sept/Oct) luminescent flowers. African blue basil – you already know why I love this plant – scent + bee-magnet blooms + vigor = love. Salvia guaranitica – It’s Gail’s and the hummingbirds’ very favorite and I’m sorry I didn’t take a decent picture of it this year! And Cupheas, which are also high on Gail’s list. – We’ll take any we can get our paws on but especially love ‘David Verity’ because it’s never not blooming.

Echinacea 'Virgin', Stachytarpheta mutabilis (pink porterweed) Plectranthus fruticosusAfrican blue basil (and Gomphrena 'Fireworks')Echinacea seed heads and Salvia guaraniticaCuphea - an assemblage of stock plants 1-11-09

What annuals and tender perennials can’t your garden grow without?