Its All About the (annual) Flowers

( Profusion zinnias, marigolds,salvia, plectranthus - Jan Johnsen)
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 some people might think that colorful flowers are too bright, too eye-catching or overstated but I say, 'embrace the color!'

Nature communicates through color. Color is its catalyst and its signal. Birds and insects navigate by color, among other things, and besides, annual flowers' color makes us happy.

(Jan Johnsen - coleus, plectranthus,angelonia, and more)
It does require extra work in the spring.

You must prepare the flower beds and plant seeds or small plants during the cool days of spring. But boy, does it pay off during the summer and fall. The display enriches our everyday life and greets us every morning with a colorful 'pop'.

(Mohonk Mountain House, incredible place)

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' me...

At that time, I had drunk the 'koolaid' that said landscape architects need not be concerned with such superfluous things as flowers...this was decades ago when marigolds ruled the flower world. (smile).

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....

(Versailles Gardens in France)
I worked for Alain Grumberg, who had emigrated from France. He had been trained by his country as a Master Gardener in the truest sense of the word.  He had worked in the Versailles gardens before coming to this country and was the head of the grounds at Mohonk. He had won the "Best Resort Grounds in America' the year before I arrived.

I worked for him, seeding annuals, transplanting every annual seedling into 6 paks and and planting out every plant (thousands!) with him. It was tedious but what a learning 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. And we used no chemicals - aged horse manure compost was our soil amendment. Fish Emulsion was our liquid fertilizer. Then I took care of the garden shown above. Edging, weeding ( no mulch here), and watering....

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

(Jan Johnsen - Verbena bonariensis and 'Senorita Rosalita' Cleome, a fun, tall combo)

I do this because, as I always say, when people see one of my landscapes, they don't say , "what lovely drain grates!" but rather, "What incredible flowers!" In the end, its all about the flowers.

(Jan Johnsen - Angelonia 'Wedgwood Blue')


  1. Due to our drought I am restraining myself a bit....lovely photos here for me to enjoy, thank you.

  2. Lovely. Funny, but today I planted some annuals I started from seed. It was cool and overcast this morning. Just perfect for planting!

  3. Really nice layout. Good work!


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