What is the deal with THAT statement? I was picking out some flowers (yes, perennials, which for all you city dwellers who don’t garden, means that you plant them once and they come back year after year) at a local nursery, and some woman came up to me and asked me if I realized that I was looking at perennials. I told her, yes, and as a matter of fact, I was not interested in annuals at all (annuals survive for one season and then the next year it’s back to the drawing board).
Last year, when I moved here, it was already late June, and there was no time for me to get up to speed on what grows here in Northern Westchester, and what gets eaten by deer, and I have to admit, I was quite taken by the loveliness and wide availability of the annuals I kept seeing. Many annuals are brightly colored and lushly petaled:
But when I got to thinking about my garden this year, now that I have had the benefit of time to read up on what works in this climate and what won’t attract the damn deer, it struck me as vaguely wasteful to purchase a garden full of annuals each year only to have to do it all over again the next year. Wasteful monetarily, energetically and perhaps even ecologically.
I began reading up on perennials and became fascinated by the way that different perennials show their blooms at different times during the season. Yes, that makes it more difficult to plan the garden. Unlike annuals, which you can count on all season long for strong, bright, lush blooms (as well as for certain death once the first frost hits), many perennials have short-lived blooming seasons. Thus, daffodils appear at the first sign of spring and are gone before Mother’s Day.
But there is a definite upside. Plant daffodil bulbs in the fall and then forget about them. In early spring, they emerge, sunshine-colored, from the cold ground, like “Surprise! Bet you forgot about us!” And when they die back, as they do as spring chugs along, if you’ve done your perennial planting properly, another plant is waiting right beside its roots to emerge when it is its turn. Next to my front steps, where my daffodils are fading, a hydrangea is now beginning to emerge from its winter sleep.
Unfortunately, deer love hydrangeas. It wasn’t my idea to plant a hydrangea in the front yard where the deer come out from the woods to browse and graze. The former owners of this house did it. I suppose it was an act of hope. A failed act of hope, of course, since I never saw one bloom last year: the deer nibbled every bud.
So far, in the shady part of my back yard garden, I’ve planted Columbine,
and Bleeding Heart
In the sunny part of the garden, I’ve planted a whole bunch of varieties of
And now, I think I have to wait a bit to see what stops blooming when and then plant some other stuff in its place when that happens. For example, we already have about seven peonies , and they’re all about to bloom. So, I actually planted some zinnia seeds around them
(yes, zinnias are annuals, but I had some seeds lying around from the brief moment of insanity when I decided I was going to grow annuals from seeds; the sweet peas and sunflowers are doing okay, but not much else) in the hopes that they will germinate, mature and bloom by the time the peonies fade.
So, why would anyone NOT want perennials?
Do I sound obsessed?
Did I skip practice today?
It was strictly a blip, that skip. I just needed a gardener’s holiday.