Since I did my favorite shade plants in last week’s post… I’ll continue the garden theme, and do my favorite sun-loving flowers for cutting.
My requirements are: low maintenance, long vase life, an extended bloom period…
And? Repeat after me: BIG.
Big, bold, colorful, and easy… (my one exception to that would be Lisianthus.) I’m so over anything that needs more than mulch, water, and a stake.
These are dahlia, Benary giant zinnia, sunflowers, and blackeyed susan.
When Paul and I got married, I moved to what is now our old house… Paul was nearly finished, and had already done the landscaping.
In retrospect? It was REALLY nice. Paul’s idea of gardening is all practical, all the time. He only chose plants that were perennial, hardy, and totally maintenance free.
I thought that was a terrible idea.
I swanned in and waved my hands—and said: this will ALL have to come out.
Paul was ecstatic.
That was my first garden, and I was ALL about the frills.
Possibly, by now? You would have guessed that about me.
I planned something formal. And elegant. Like a mini-Versailles. But also vaguely English… full of roses and peonies. And possibly old stone walls and hedgerows.
I had no idea there was an easy way to garden… and a hard way to garden.
I had no concept of planning a garden that does at least part of the work FOR you.
In fact, I didn’t even know that peonies DON’T bloom all summer.
And since I didn’t know any of that, I did it the hard way… And once it was established? It was pretty. So, so, so pretty.
Peonies are GORGEOUS. Especially as a new gardener… and especially since you have no idea they’re not going to bloom your first season.
And then the second year you watch them come up and you are SO EXCITED. And you wait and wait and wait and the buds get giant, and FINALLY it blooms… and the one hour the plant is PERFECT, invariably it rains and the whole thing collapses… Then you’re out in a thunderstorm with a lightning-rod/umbrella, trying to stake this stupid plant that took two years to do anything and is now ruined.
But, never mind. Because the roses are so beautiful!
By July? Not so pretty.
By August, I was ready for the asylum.
Blackspot, leaf drop, mildew… despite my airflow, despite switching the mulch, despite not watering the leaves, despite making my own organic spray, despite reading an encyclopedia worth of rose-care books.
When we moved, I was HAPPY to leave that garden behind.
When we started the flowerbeds at this house, I planned a cottage garden… where if something falls over, or dies, you can just ignore it.
My goal with this garden was to grow NO-maintenance perennials, some wild flowers, and to fill it out with a few more-effort-intensive flowers (dahlia, giant zinnia) that would reward my efforts, rather than humiliate me.
My garden advice? Choose flowers that will withstand the natural occurrence of water falling from the sky, and not require you read them poetry by moonlight… unless you like that kind of thing, in which case—you’ve earned my utmost garden-respect.
My other garden advice? Order some Benary Giant Zinnia seeds. Go. Now.
You’re only a tiny bit late getting started, and you’ll thank me later.
If you want something you can cut, and cut, and cut, and cut…
If you want more flowers than you know what to do with.
If you want it to still be going in August…
Then you need to grow this!
Here’s my post about getting the most out of your zinnia, so if you get some seeds, you’ll be able to follow along.
I didn’t even bother with dahlia this year, but if you want to order some tubers, you’re still in a good time frame to get them out.
Below is the flower garden before I dug the new bed, and you can see one of my favorite perennials on the left—Cup plant.
It’s like a perennial sunflower. Tall, nice greenery… It needs full sun, but won’t require staking, and pretty much takes care of itself!