An Annual Event

The paths on my nursery become incredibly congested at this time of year and some days there seem to be more plants on the paths than there are on the beds. But this phenomenon is one I enjoy and look forward to as blocked paths means it’s planting season.
Throughout April, May and June, Troy, our Head Gardener will tour the nursery selecting plants destined for the garden and these plants are pulled out onto the path to await collection by one of the team, who will have the plum job of adding them to the garden.
Mid-May is particularly welcome as it serves as the signal for the end of cold nights and frosts and a safe time to plant out the multitude of annuals which have been growing in the glasshouse and poly tunnels over the last couple of months.

Here is a selection of some of the annuals gracing the garden this year.

Arctotis
Arctotis are a major feature of the Cottage Garden where you will find them planted en masse in front of the cottage. Beautiful, eye catching and sun loving, they bear masses of large daisy blooms over a very long period from May until the first frosts. As well as being a superb border plant, Arctotis make excellent cut flowers.

Arctotis 'Flame'

Arctotis ‘Flame’

Cut flowers

Cut flowers

Bacopa ‘Snowtopia’
Bacopa are delightful trailing annuals which bear a profusion of small white flowers over an extremely long season from early May until October. These hardworking little plants can be found cascading gracefully in a pot in the White Garden.

Bacopa 'Snowtopia'

Bacopa ‘Snowtopia’

Gazanias
A firm favourite here at Sissinghurst, Gazanias are beautiful annuals with large daisy like blooms which open with the sun and close up again in evening. We plant four different Gazania varieties  (G. uniflora, G. ‘Freddie’, G. cookei and G. ‘Cream Beauty’) in troughs in the Top Courtyard and in various beds throughout the garden. This season I have also grown a new variety for trial in the garden; a stunning sunny yellow form called G. ‘Colorado Gold’ which I hope will make a good addition to our collection.

Gazania 'Colorado Gold'

Gazania ‘Colorado Gold’

Heliophylla longifolia
One of my absolute favourites, this exquisite South African native bears a mass of bright blue flowers with white centres on flowing wiry stems. Planted in the Rose Garden, it forms a tumbling mass of blooms perfect for softening the edge of pathways. Truly delightful.

Heliophylla longifolia

Heliophylla longifolia

Helipterum roseum ‘Pierrot’
Another striking annual with glaucous foliage and drooping stems which bear large acorn like buds opening to pure white flowers with dark eyes. Beautiful in bud and in bloom this unusual plant adds texture to a border and makes a great dried flower.

Helipterum roseum'Pierrot'

Helipterum roseum’Pierrot’

Nasturtium ‘Empress of India’
A superb variety which has graced the garden with its presence for many years. Grown in the Herb Garden due to its edible flowers, this striking ground cover annual is outstanding due to its vibrant flowers and graceful habit.

Nasturtium 'Empress of India'

Nasturtium ‘Empress of India’

Nemophila ‘Penny Black’
Introduced to the garden last year, we grew Nemophila in a container to great success. The stunning black and white flowers were borne in profusion all season and this truly unusual plant proved to be a great talking point for visitors. If you have a greenhouse overwintering is possible, but Nemophila come well from seed or cuttings so they are good candidate to try propagating.

Nemophila 'Penny Black'

Nemophila ‘Penny Black’

Stylomecon heterophylla ‘Copper Queen’
This unusual, rarely seen annual is currently an outstanding addition to the large pot in the centre of the Cottage Garden. It’s a dainty but striking plant that bears exquisite copper orange, single poppy like blooms on slender, drooping stems in May and June. Another firm favourite of mine; I was so pleased the warmer weather encouraged some of the flower buds to open in time to get a picture for this blog. The garden team have combined it with the sunny yellow flowers of Bidens ferrulifolia for wonderful effect.

Stylomecon

Stylomecon heterophylla ‘Copper Queen’

Tagetes ‘Cinnabar’
A superb, well known annual, Tagetes are valued for their long flowering season and delightful marigold like blooms. This choice variety (T. ‘Cinnabar’) is a selection from Great Dixter Garden. Soon to be added to the Cottage Garden, this form is taller growing than most others with a continuous profusion of rusty orange-red blooms on upright stems. A great performer.

Tagetes 'Cinnabar'

Tagetes ‘Cinnabar’

Verbena ‘Sissinghurst’
A stalwart of the garden and bearing the name of Sissinghurst, this Verbena greets visitors in the urns at the front entrance and often graces the Top Courtyard pots through summer. The lax, flowing habit forms the perfect base for the electric pink blooms which appear in abundance from late spring right through to the first signs of winter. This is without doubt the plant we propagate the most in the nursery, with a batch of 60 cuttings going into the prop frame every two weeks. The cuttings take roughly two weeks to root so it’s a continuous merry-go-round throughout spring and summer.

Verbena 'Sissinghurst'

Verbena ‘Sissinghurst’

Viola tricolor
We have many perennial Viola varieties spread throughout the Rose Garden, Courtyards and White Garden but this annual species is well worth noting for its sheer profusion of blooms. Grown from seed each year V. tricolor graces both pots and borders in the garden with its three coloured yellow, white and purple flowers.

Viola tricolor

Viola tricolor

Annuals, although quite often maligned, have a distinct and valuable place at Sissinghurst. They are reliable, exquisite performers which perfectly complement the perennials and shrubs which form the essence of the garden.

Emma Grigg

Photos by Bridget Wheeler – assistant propagator

10 thoughts on “An Annual Event

    • Hi Many thanks for your comment. In reply to your query of the colour of Verbena ‘Sissinghurst’, The main Verbena ‘Sissinghurst ‘ is pink as shown but we have records of there being other colour forms including Verbena ‘Red Sissinghurst’ and Verbena ‘Purple Sissinghurst’, so you may well have seen a red form. Hope that helps, best wishes Emma

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  1. I love this blog, and today’s pictures were a feast for the eyes. But I best like the “behind the scenes” entries and would love to have seen your nursery paths filled with plants ready for planting out.

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    • Hi Jo many thanks for your comment, its really nice to hear you’ve enjoyed the blog and hearing about whats going on in the nursery, best wishes

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    • Hi Sue there is a fantastic array of annuals to try, really glad you’ve enjoyed seeing some of the ones we grow here, good luck with trying some out

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  2. It is interesting how terminology varies around the world; it seems most strange to me that you call many of these plants, “annuals”. I think of the non-hardy perennials as “seasonal colour”. I do wish I was closer to come and visit you though; it is my favourite time of the year in the UK. Your photos are beautiful and the garden must be looking stunning. Enjoy; I am very envious!

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    • Hi Janna glad you enjoyed the blog, the garden is looking beautiful at the moment, hopefully you’ll be able to get over to see it at some point. Terminology is really interesting, here at Sissinghurst we have a lot of terms which we use specifically here (such as divided plants are affectionately known as ‘muddy lumps’) or as in the case of the annuals we tend to use this a blanket term for the true annuals and the non-hardy perennials which we grow from seed each year. All the very best

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  3. The arctotis are beautiful and lovely, especially the gorgeous red one…and the wavy, purple-petal one looks fascinating.
    I know that nasturtium has a soft parma violet like scent in the earlier morning, but do any of the other flowers in this post have a scent?

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