Thursday, March 22, 2012

the perennial annual conversation or the annual perennial conversation?

Every year, every flowering season, I walk into Lowes or Home Depot and debate whether to buy a few annuals for our flowering mix. After all, they're so much less expensive, provide instant gratification in the bloom department, and I don't feel guilty when they die at the end of the season.

Every year, every flowering season, I walk out of Lowes or Home Depot with a small cart of perennials and my mind buzzing like irritating bees over our bushes "Should I have bought some? Am I better off this way? What if these all die?" Over and over and over again.

My love affair with perennials cannot be traced back to a specific flower-type affinity or sentimental underpinning. It's purely practical. Every year I buy a clump of perennials to add to my growing flower garden. Every year I expect that half, if not more, will die and not return thanks to my lack of flower-power-insight. Still, this leaves me with the other half in my garden returning annually without much effort on my part. I figure, if I continue this trajectory, I will eventually achieve a full garden into which I only need to put minimal effort. If I planted only annuals, I would be redundantly repeating this process ad infinitum.

This year was different. While Hubby was sprucing the yard for Little E's party he suggested I buy some annuals for the planter-box-sorta-thingy that we have next to our mailbox. Since we have attempted to plant a perennial there each of the five years that we've lived in our house, and have essentially killed five perennials by planting them there, this seemed like a reasonable suggestion and a kind favor to perennials everywhere.

I bought marigolds and petunias. Instant color. Instant green-thumb-looking-success (except that every gardener knows these are annuals and therefore wanna-be-gardener flowers), instant gratification, and a spared perennial.

Of course, this tripped off my aversion to annuals. I bought a few gerbera daisies and a pansy to decorate the inside of the house for Little E's party. Yesterday, we went back for vegetable seeds (more on that initiative later) and came out with more petunias and a ranuncula for my annual collection and, of course, several perennials.

I love the color, and the price is reasonable. I'm still not convinced enough to fill my garden with these one-season bloomers since I really don't want to be planting the same thing over and over again (or even something different in the same spot), but I love that I can put some color punch at the front and back of the house with minimal effort.

My typical closing line for gardening is "time will tell", but this time the only thing that time will tell is that it's the end of the season. So I can just say, enjoy!


  1. Might I suggest bulbs? I feel the same way about annuals-I mean, technically you can harvest and propogate them through the winter so you can replant them the following year but that is WAAAAYYY to much work and green thumb savvy for me. Bulbs you plant early (or late, depending) and it's really cool to see them sprout up (makes you feel even more garden successful, at least it does me) and unless you have a husband who is overenthusiastic with the weed killer most of them will repeat for a few years (I think how often depends on the plant) :) I'm a little bit on a tulip high right now, but I also planted grape hyacinths and the ones Remus didn't eat are pretty and fragrant and no hassle :)

  2. I planted some paperwhite bulbs at the end of last season (and freaked out when they bloomed in December until Mom told me that was normal - whew!). I'm waiting for them to catch up and do some spring blooming so we'll see. I love tulips so I think I may be adding those to my collection. I've also enjoyed a couple perennials that "spread" each year - my asiatic lilies and irises seem to like to expand each year which is fine by me!

    I'll look into the grape hyacinth suggestion, too! Any pictures coming on your blog? :)