Shade Annuals Planted in Landscape Lobelia, Begonias, Impatiens, Polka Dot Plants - May 2023

The way that I think about gardening is that you have to have a systemic approach to planning and planting that is paired with a secondary, supplemental approach to zhuzh'ing things during the growing season.  That systemic approach means trees and shrubs and even perennials.  (I need to do more evergreen shrubs....just a self-reminder.)

But that supplemental zhuzh'ing is something that I've mostly done through division and some bulbs.  

I suppose that's the difference between a landscaper and a gardener, right?  A landscape gets it all planted and is satisfied.  A gardener will work the garden all year long.  A plantsman?  That's for another post.

One of the things that I've talked about over the years is how to use annuals in the landscape.  The only place that I've successfully planted them is out front in the porch beds.  In the back?  Nothing.

Last year, I included the idea of using shade annuals and dark foliage.  But, I really didn't move on it.  

25.  Use annuals beyond the container.  I've long talked about using annuals in the landscape, but have never planted one in the backyard.  Mostly...because...I've invested elsewhere.  Try both sun and shade annuals (begonias + polka dot).  And, fill the feet of the Triumph Elm in front. 
I haven't attempted to solve the front porch bed - including in front of the Triumph Elm.  But...I have started on my shade annual journey.   I decided to buy a few 8-packs of shade annual plugs from the orange big box nursery.  They run four-bucks-apiece, so it wasn't a big investment to give most of these a try.  

I went with this set of plants:





First up are the Lobelia with their small blue flowers.  I put them in a bare spot back by the firepit in a small colony where I hope they'll fill-in.  That means that this post counts double for my to-do list - as #15 was to 'upgrade the firepit area'.  Check and check.


Next are the red wax/bedding Begonias.  I used them in two places.  First in the landscape right in between the Amber Queen Epimedium and the recently-transplanted Green Velvet boxwood (from the front yard).  Same thinking here:  blank spot in the shade that these can (hopefully) fill-in.



I also have this cast iron urn sitting in the landscape, so I filled it, too, with the red wax Begonias.  Photo below:


Next are the shade-loving white Impatiens.  I planted these in a colony on the southside - at the feet of one of the Green Giant Thujas and right near the tiny (still) Chinkapin Oak tree.


The last annual - which...is technically a tropical (#12 on my list was to use more tropicals) is the Polka Dot Plant.  This is the one I'm most excited about - it is also the most expensive.  Whereas each 8 pack of plugs for the others cost four bucks.  *Each one* of these Polka Dot plants cost four bucks.  I've posted about how others use Polka Dot Plant - like this garden at the Morton Arboretum.  And last year, we used a lighter pink variety in our front porch container.  I decided that since these were the most showy, I wanted to plant them where they'd get the most views - closest to the patio.  I opted to weave them in and out of the Christmas Tree hostas that I divided into three last Fall, a couple of Summer Beauty Alliums that I transplanted along the border and the two varieties of Hakonechloa Macra Forest Grasses.  This area - at the base of the large Oak tree (tree swing tree) gets morning sun (see photo below), but then moves into shade for the afternoon.  I'm hoping (fingers crossed) that this mix is going to give these the right exposure and they won't get too burned.  


One of the things that I'm going to try to track here in the garden diary is this:  might early May (these were planted on May 5th) be too early for shade annuals and tropicals?  We have a family gathering that FORCED the purchasing and planting of these annuals.  Otherwise, I likely would have waited another week or two. 

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