In last week’s post, we talked about playing favorites and how difficult it is for a gardener to choose what to grow. There are many beautiful varieties out there, and playing favorites can be a monumental task, especially when you are indecisive. But, last week, I put myself up to the challenge and named five of my favorite houseplants that I couldn’t imagine not growing. So, this week, we are back to playing the favorites game, only now we are talking about flowers.
Choosing my top five favorite flowers to grow in the garden was more difficult for me than the houseplant challenge, mainly because there are so many flowers that I love to grow! So, I was tempted to cheat and break this category up into other groups such as top five favorite flowering annuals, perennials, bulbs, and trees or shrubs. I certainly know that I could quickly think of five (or more) favorites in each of these categories. But, I wanted to ask myself if I could only grow five flowers in my landscape, which would I choose. Here is what I came up with:
Peony: If you’ve been following along with my blog, I’m sure you’re not surprised to find this flower on my list. My affection for peonies is no secret; I have written several blog posts about them. Their array of colors, size and fluffy, cloud-like appearance has officially won me over. They also win high marks in my book for being relatively carefree and long-living. There aren’t too many flowers that you can plant that your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will also enjoy. Peonies have a relatively short bloom time compared to some other flowers on my list, but that makes me appreciate them all the more.
Zinnia: This flower comes in a staggering array of varieties in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Again, they are relatively easy to grow, have a long vase life, and the more you harvest their flowers, the more they bloom. They are powerhouses in the garden and will give continuous flowers for the growing season. As a bonus, pollinators love them!
Cosmos: The delicate flowers and misty, fern-like foliage of cosmos have won my heart. They too come in many varieties, are easy to grow, and are a favorite of pollinators. Adding a cosmos stem to an arrangement always gives it that special something that takes your breath away.
Dahlia: Dahlias are not as carefree as my previously listed favorites. They tend to need a little more attention and can be the divas of the cutting garden. And don’t even get me started on the digging, dividing, and storing their tubers each season. But, when they are in bloom, it is perfection on a stem. The colors, the shapes, and the number of flowers make all of the extra effort worth it.
Hydrangea: The long-lasting blooms and dazzling colors of hydrangeas earned them a spot in my top five. I’ve never seen another flower as brilliant blue as those of my Nikko Blue hydrangea. As the flowers mature, they can change colors with the season and make excellent dried flowers. And the fact that their flower color can vary based on soil pH has the science nerd in me fascinated.
Honorable Mention (you know I had to)
Gomphrena: It was tough to cut this flower from my top five; it was barely edged out of the running. I love the globe-shaped blooms and so do the pollinators. I saw more butterfly species in my garden than ever before, growing gomphrena.
Lilac: Another fabulous flowering shrub that holds such nostalgia in many gardeners’ minds. The scent alone has the power to transport you back to your childhood.
Summersweet: The summersweet shrub is quickly moving up the ranks of my favorites list. The scent is intoxicating, a mix of vanilla and spice that greets you the moment you walk into the garden. The flowers are beautiful and completely covered in bees when they bloom.
Rudbeckia: These flowers are long-lasting, attention-getting, and pollinator-friendly. They bring a bright and cheery feeling to the garden that always puts a smile on my face.
So, there we have it, my top five favorite flowers to grow in the garden (plus a few honorable mentions). I would love it if you’d like to play along and share your top favorite flowers to grow in the comments below. You might persuade me to change my mind! The great thing about this game is that your answers may change over time, and that’s okay. If they didn’t change, that might mean you’re not experimenting with new varieties, and that would be a shame. I had never even grown a dahlia until last year, and now they are in my top five!
I plan to try many flower varieties in my garden this year that I have never grown before. So, who knows? Next year, I could have a completely different top five list. Perhaps ranunculus or anemones will appear, or poppies, asters, or amaranth. I don’t know yet, and that’s what makes it exciting! Today I could be sowing the seeds of tomorrow’s favorite!
Next week, we’ll wrap up our favorite game with my top five favorite edibles. So, start thinking about what edibles you love to grow, and I will be doing the same—happy dreaming and drooling (mmm edibles). Suddenly I’m hungry…