Every summer we plant a bunch of annuals alongside our surviving perennials in containers on our kitchen and back decks, where I can more easily get to them to water, dead-head, fertilise, etc. I sometimes post pictures on Twitter and Instagram, and several people have asked if I’d do a post going into the planting in a bit more depth because they’re thinking about trying something similar next year.

I’m happy to do that—but to be clear, I am not an expert, far from it. Half the time I dn’t even know the names of the stuff I plant—I pick them because I like the colour, and from the care labels I can guess how much sun/shade and water/not they need, and how high (if vines) how wide (if shrubs) and how long If trailing plants) they’ll grow.

Today I’ll just post pretty pictures of different parts of the garden/decks taken at different times of year, with the names of the plants (at lest the ones I remember) bascially the results. Then sometime in the next couple of weeks I’ll do a more detailed, how-I-decided-and-what-I-did-and-why post, that is, the initial choices. Backwards, I know, but right now the plants are blooming, and it’s pointless planning for next year yet, so it makes sense to me.

The Results

This year we changed the colour of our house exterior, so we had to tear out the climbing roses at the front of in order to paint. This broke my heart (well, okay, made me sigh a bit) because I’d spent years training those fucking roses to look perfect. Here’s how it used to be, from the inside of the front picture window and then from the outside:

A garden of flowers and lawn viewed from inside a house and framed by a window
Seeing the roses around the porch trellis from inside the house
The front garden with roses all around the front porch

Sadly, because the timbers on the front bed had rotted, we also had to tear out everything in the front bed. So we made a new flower bed with a couple of trellises, and planted a mix of vines, shrubs and flowers, both perennial and annual.

Midday sun, August

The vines at the front—on either side of the porch—are a mix of evergreen jasmine (glossy green leaves, for colour during the winter, white flowers for a lovely scent all summer) and deciduous trumpet vines, which (once they flower—not this year, sadly) will have gorgeous flame/salmon flowers that hummingbirds love.

You can see from the picture that I went with lots of warm colours to offset the indigo house—mostly petunias at the front (which being annuals never last past the end of September), with some geranium, hyssop, yellow snapdragon, and a ground cover with white flowers that I can never remember the name of, and at the back some hardy fuchsia plus a shrub with wine-coloured foliage that I frankly have no idea what it is but seem to remember thinking, Hey, that’ll work!

We had such a terrible spring and such a slow start to summer that the front bed looks a bit sparse. Hopefully this time next year will be marvellous.

If you look carefully at the front window you can see through to the back deck and a peekaboo view of the flowers there. And here’s a closeup:

Taken in early evening light in late August

From the top, centre: flame-coloured snapdragon (I hope the vines at the front will flower that colour); just below that pink geranium, to the right of that, red geranium, below the geranium little pink million bells below that red petunia, to the left of the petunia orange marigold, moving clockwise and up a bit, more marigold, next to that variable-pink petunia, above that red/purple salvia, above that hyssop, and at the top blue/purple salvia.

And here’s a wider shot taken a month earlier—before those gorgeous snapdragons really got going, and showing some dark red salvia—in early morning light:

Early July morning

The back deck is where Kelley and I sit in the evenings to talk, drink wine, and grill while bees and hummingbirds zuzz at us and the cats completely ignore us. Here’s a wider shot, showing some other flowers and fruits: some bright pink petunias, behind that a small blueberry shrub—we didn’t get many this year, but are hopeful for next—and some strawberries planted around some kind of daisy.

Early evening on a hazy day

The side deck, just off the kitchen, is where I spend time during the day—usually for an hour or so after lunch—with a cup of tea, some chocolate, and a book. This year that deck has been a haven and balm.

Kitchen deck early afternoon

Here, from lower left, we have pale salmon-pink petunia; above that, Flaming Lips, a kind of Salvia—with some vivid red petunia planted at its base; on the ground, fuchsia; next to that the three jasmine vines we’ve had for years now, entwined to make a small tree; behind the jasmine, though you can’t see it, is rosemary with a few marigolds for colour; at the base of the blue pot that hold the jasmine is something I’m really pleased with this year: bright yellow begonia. (We tried begonias last year on the back deck and they did not do well.) You can see things more clearly here—though it was early in the summer before things really got going adn before we decided where things would end up. Those blue and yellow flowers in front of the begonia (er, the name will come to me…) got moved somewhere else, as did the small purple things to the left of the jasmine—to the front garden I think:

Early summer, when things are just getting started

And this is the deck from the opposite angle. You can see we have a variety of herbs in the coir baskets, along with flowers for colour (petunias in various colours are my standby). We also have herbs in pots on the deck itself—some sage and some oregano I think—stuff like chives and basil and thyme and marjoram:

End of September

From a slightly wider angle you can see the hanging basket behind the herbs, again with Flaming Lips salvia—hummingbirds adore salvia, and I love watching them, so we try to plant different varieties in different places.

Those orange things are million bells I think, and on the table there a basket of petunia and marigolds—but I’d just dead-headed a batch in this photo (marigolds, like petunias, are super-sensitive to moisture of lack thereof; miss a day of watering when the sun is shining and, oof, sadness ensues) so they’re not visible—and behind that some lavender (it didn’t do well this year, I’m not sure why) and then behind the table another coir basket full of fuchsia an little blue flowers that have some woman’s name I always forget—lobelia? veronica?

End of September

So the above photo is from September, and this one is what the table and basket behind it looked like in June (and before we add the petunia to the pot with marigolds):

Early days—lavender, marigold, fuchsia in June

To whet you appetite for a future, How To post, here’s another photo, taken the same day in June, this time of the back deck, while we were still figuring out where things would go and whether we’d bought enough. You can see still still in their starter pots—with the strawberries looking particularly delicious.

Wine o’clock in June