Morning Glory Mix-up

Morning Glory_DBG-CO_LAH_9033

You’re growing morning glories? On purpose? Are you crazy? Those things will take over your garden! Our friends, who live in wet western Washington, were appalled. They couldn’t understand why I’d plant something so invasive.

Yet, I’ve grown morning glories for years, first in California’s benign climate, then here in Colorado. I’ve never found them to be at all invasive. True blue flowers are hard to find. I couldn’t understand why our friends, avid gardeners, wouldn’t want to grow something so lovely.

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Captivating Cosmos

Cosmos_DBG_LAH_7489Do you enjoy big flowers with bright, showy colors and carefree maintenance? It’s hard to beat annuals for season-long impact. Whenever I think of annuals, I immediately think of cosmos, one of the very best annuals for Colorado gardens.

There are currently thought to be 36 species in the genus Cosmos, but the two most often grown in our gardens are C. bipinnatus (left) and C. sulphureus. (There are two other Cosmos species in cultivation. One is a frost-tender, tuberous perennial known as Chocolate Cosmos, C. atrosanguineus. The other is Cosmos parviflorus, a wildflower of the western United States.)

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Love Lies Bleeding

 

Amaranthus_DBG_LAH_7264Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and what could be more appropriate than a post on a romance-themed flower: Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus). You have to wonder about this name, though. I get this mental picture of a jilted lover and a heartless ex. Which one of them did the stabbing?

Thankfully, the flower we call Love Lies Bleeding isn’t quite so melodramatic. It’s a member of the amaranth family from the Andes of South America, where it is known as kiwicha, and is now grown around the world.

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Annual Sunflowers

helianthus-annuus-sunflower-csu-23jul04-lah-029Sunflowers may resemble a huge yellow sun towering overhead, but their name comes from their ability to keep their “face” turned toward the sun. Everyone recognizes a conventional sunflower with its huge dark disk surrounded by yellow petals, set atop a sturdy stalk that may reach over eight feet in height. A quick tour of a seed catalog shows that this is just the beginning. Breeders have developed shorter plants (as low as two feet) and an expanded palette of hues ranging from mahogany through orange to lemon yellow, white, and even soft rose to wine-red. Many types sport more than one color.

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Calibrachoa (gesundheit!)

calibrachoa-_colospgs-co_lah_5043Imagine a petite petunia with intensely-colored, trumpet-shaped blossoms in shades such as magenta, violet, or copper. Flowers smother the slightly fuzzy, gray-green leaves from late spring until the first hard frost. Prolific flowering means that new flowers quickly replace those damaged by hail, a major asset in our area. Mature plants reach about eighteen inches in width and are less than a foot high. A relative newcomer on the garden scene, Calibrachoa has already gained a place of honor among annual flowers.

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