Old Fashioned Annuals In A Modern Garden

This is one of the gardens I am restoring. The stone work is new,and many of the shrubs were chosen and planted by the landscape designer. The hill behind the wall is steep, and dangerously slippery when wet. The soil nearest the wall is moist and heavy with clay. As the garden goes up, the soil gets harder, and leaner.



When I first saw this garden it was infested with Bermuda grass. The grass sent its stolons down deep and colonized the rock crevices  and the iris beds. In short, this border had gone back to lawn.

Its shrubs were overgrown, and some of the newer perennials such as Heucheras were dying from exposure to sun and poor ,dry soil at the root. The owner had stokesias and perennial geraniums still in nursery pots and yet to be planted.

Besides its location and rock work the garden had some good plants in place. Some interesting  conifers, a half dozen contented “Knockout” roses, “May Night” salvias, and a lovely stand of the old fashioned self seeding annual Impatiens balsamina.





Balsams come in many sizes and colors, but of all I have seen this is the best. It seeds itself along the stones and in crevices and gives the garden a vintage look.

Seeing how well it seeded gave me the idea of bringing in a Jewels of Opar (Talinum paniculatum) called “Kingwood Gold”. This will seed itself around for next year in true cottage garden fashion.



Here it is growing beside the “May Night” salvia, which blooms in early summer, and then if all the lucky planets align, blooms again.. I had it in my old garden, but never saw it re-bloom-

I plan to scatter seeds of  the Purple Toadflax-Linaria purpurea “Canon Went”-here as well. Toadflax loves sun and the tight spaces between rock, and though it does not live more than two seasons, its descendants live on, assuring that the garden will never be without it.

I think these old-fashioned flowers are good companions to the roses and to the bearded iris this garden’s owner is so attached to.

And here are two additions I added.  Penstemon x mexicali “Sunburst Ruby”, which unlike most penstemons , is sending up new blooming spikes , and a pink Gaura lindheimeri.

I found the penstemon at a big box store. I have one plant in a container, and this garden has the other. We shall see what it does the rest of the season, and how it does in our wet Tennessee winters.


Here is a view to the shade end of the garden, which has yet to be planned or planted. We have not brought in many new plants this month because of the heat, the drought, and worry over water restrictions. This garden is still disheveled  in places, and every two weeks there is a new invasion by the Bermuda grass. It has invaded a large clump of Miscanthus.


About talesofanashvillegardener

Professional gardener, Experimental Cook. Constant Reader
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