Annual Flowers & Mohonk Mt House - Color, Glorious Color

(Jan Johnsen - all rights reserved)

Annual flowers - those that bloom all summer into late fall then give it up for good - are the secret to a joyful and colorful garden. 

I know people will jump down my throat with their disdain for the garish or overstated, perhaps saying that subtle is so much more pleasing or that the extra work planting is not worth it or whatever, but I say, "go ahead, try it!"

(Jan Johnsen - profusion zinnias, marigolds,salvia, plectranthus)

Colorful annual flowers make us happy, enrich our lives and then take our breath away, to boot!

(Jan Johnsen - coleus, plectranthus,angelonia, and more)

I know all about annual flowers because after graduating college (landscape architecture focus) decades ago, I went to work in the display gardens at MOHONK MT. HOUSE in New Paltz, NY. I was not very happy about the situation,  thinking flowers 'beneath' see, I had drunk the 'koolaid' that said landscape architects need not be concerned with such superfluous things as I said, this was decades ago when marigolds ruled the world. (smile).

(Mohonk Mountain House, incredible place)

But, as always happens, the very thing you think is not good is actually the best thing you could ever hope for! Life works that way....

(one of the famed gazebos of Mohonk)

I ended up working for a Frenchman, Alain Grumberg, who had emigrated from France and was a Master Gardener in the truest sense of the word!  He was head of the grounds at Mohonk and had won the "Best Resort Grounds in America' the year before I arrived.

(Versailles Gardens in France)

He had worked in the Versailles gardens before coming to this country...and I worked for him, seeding every annual, transplanting every seedling in the greenhouse and planting out every plant with him ....kind of tedious but wow, what an experience!

(Part of the display gardens at Mohonk Mt. House)
I learned from Alain how to plant annual plants like a professional  - fast and perfect . Then I took care of the garden shown above. Edging, weeding ( no mulch here), and watering....

So here I am today, drawing the detailed site plans (grades, drainage, construction specs) and then planting the annuals as well! Kind of a double whammy....

(Jan Johnsen - Verbena bonariensis and 'Senoruita Rosalita' Salvia, a fun, tall combo)
And as I always say, when people see one of my projects, they don't say , "what lovely drain grates!" but rather, "What incredible flowers!"...its all about the flowers, don't you know.

(Jan Johnsen - Angelonia - 'Wedgwood Blue', I think)


  1. oh it is too - lovely photos! a friend just wrote me an e-mail saying that flowers were a way for God to smile at us!

  2. To have worked in those incredible gardens !! What a blessing ! Thanks so much for this post, Gina

  3. They say God is in the details but we gardeners know that God is in the flowers,
    smiling away.

    a blessing indeed - he couldn't understand back then ( ver 30 years ago) why a college grad. wanted to be work at such a menial level - but it was a graduate level education in horticulture for me!

  4. This was a cute story. I really liked it. xoxo Britt

  5. aloha,

    what a beautiful post, i love the story and how you delivered it...wish i could view in person, but your photos do it justice.

    thanks for sharing it today

  6. Thanks all! this is such fun...Noel, I cannot 'talk story' like you, though!


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