Monches Farm, LLC
5890 Monches Road
Our growing season in Wisconsin is so abbreviated that most gardeners try to get the most out of its brevity by filling their outdoor spaces with the abundance of color and lush foliage provided by annual and tropical plants. Now that the growing season is starting to wind down we have a chance to really appraise the performance of these plants. Since we invest in them for a single season we want to make sure they are earning their place in our gardens.
Here at Monches Farm we debate each year over which annuals to offer. We base many of our choices on personal experience but we don’t have the opportunity to follow each and every plant through the whole season to evaluate its merits. So, we’re asking for your help!
We’d like to invite you to give us feedback on the performance of your annuals plants. Which ones did you like the best? Why? Which ones didn’t live up to your expectations? Click HERE to send us your reviews.
Of course we’re hoping that you acquired your plants here at the Farm but we’re also interested in hearing about fabulous annuals that we should be carrying as well as those that we do, so please share your assessment of plants obtained elsewhere as well.
To get the
dialog started each of us here at the Farm picked a few
(click on highlighted text to see images)
Nancy (Garden Sales) :
Nancy’s favorite annual this year was Lantana ‘Bandana Gold’ . She said that it was a strong grower and a reliable performer, even with minimal care. She sprinkled it throughout her perennial beds to provide splashes of vivid color all summer long. She also feels that Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost ’ is an excellent annual, particularly for use in containers. It forms a mass of tiny airy white flowers that companions well with almost any neighboring plants. Another of her favorites is Cuphea ‘Batface’ , whose small flowers bring just the right dash of true red to liven container plantings (Zannah adds here that she loves to combine this Cuphea with any dark leaf annual, as the center purple “face” echoes the purple foliage for a great accent effect). Lastly, Nancy feels that Dorotheanthus ‘Mezo Training Red’ deserved mentions. This variegated trailing succulent is interesting enough simply as a foliage plant so its unexpected little fluffy red flowers are a bonus. We have always grown the Dorotheanthus in full sun but several customers shared with this year they had tremendous results growing it even in full shade. Gardeners are always learning from one another!
Bette (Garden Sales) :
Bette has a love/hate relationship with Cleome ‘Senorita Roselita ’ . She was extremely enthusiastic about it early in the season and very excited to try it in her own garden after hearing rave reviews from so many gardeners and professional horticulturists. Unlike most Cleomes, this one stays compact and continues to bloom prolifically through the summer months until hard frost. It forms up upright mound of bright pink flowers and is great as a stand-alone container specimen. However, Bette lives on a windswept lot and discovered that a weakness of this plant was its brittle stems, which had a tendency to snap off at the base when exposed to heavy winds. We still love this plant and highly recommend it but will add the caveat that it is probably not the best choice for a very windy site. Bette’s new favorite is Papyrus ‘King Tut’ . This spectacular foliage plant is incomparable as a dramatic focal point in a mixed container. It does require significant moisture, though, so make sure to plant it in a large container easily reached with the garden hose. Bette also uses Calibrachoa extensively in her containers. Their color range and non-stop floral display make them an excellent addition to mixed containers.
Bob (Garden Sales) :
Bob made it clear that his favorite annual changes from year to year, depending upon what he happens to be growing that year! This year his favorite was Begonia ‘Dragonwing’ . He said it was robust and floriferous and beautiful, even with very little maintenance. Another great performer for Bob this year on his heavily wooded lot was Torenia , which he dotted throughout his shade gardens and which increased well and has been blooming enthusiastically.
Zannah (Garden Sales) :
Zannah is a huge fan of foliage plants for containers. She plants dozens of mixed planters each summer and utilizes mostly foliage plants, accented by annual flowers. She firmly believes that mixed containers should always contain at least one foliage element. Among her favorites for foliage are Coleus (no brainer), Canna , Nasturtium , ‘Black Pearl’ ornamental pepper ( black foliage topped with its namesake glossy black fruit ) & Talinum (which also has adorable tiny airy flowers followed by glossy red seedpods). She also utilizes herbs, including various types of Basil , in many of her patio containers so that a quick snip of fresh flavor can be added to summer dishes. An ornamental herb that received a lot of “oohs” & “aahs” at the Farm this summer is Origanum ‘Kent’s Beauty’.
Linda (Production) :
Linda has many favorite annuals, but when pressed to offer a single “must have” she chose Ipomoea (Sweet Potato Vine) . She uses it every year in her containers and simply can’t imagine her annual plantings without it. This versatile trailing plant offers foliage color ranging from brilliant chartreuse through copper red to deep near-black . It also offers leaf form ranging from tear shaped to heavily fingered . We love it and agree that it truly is irreplaceable in container plantings.
Like Linda, Chris has many favorites but for her the one plant she uses every year is the Setcresea ‘Purple Heart’ . Its unusual long glaucous purple leaves provide contrast in color, form and texture in mixed containers. The small lavender flowers are hardly worth mentioning as this a primarily a stellar foliage plant. (Zannah adds that we also had a new variegated form this year that was equally worthy). Setcresea is actually a tropical perennial so it can be grown outdoors during the growing season and over wintered indoors if adequate light is available.
Matt (Garden Designer) :
Matt’s choice of annuals is expansive but one plant that he especially likes to use in containers is Scaevola (Fan Flower) . Its blooms with fan shaped flower in blue , pink or white and is a good solid performer in sun or significant shade. He also has favorites for incorporating into his perennial gardens to provide ongoing floral display all season. Annuals for use in the perennial border can’t be too flamboyant but must rather have a certain subtlety about them so as to look natural interplanted with perennials. Matt’s favorite annuals for this use are Verbena bonariensis (Zannah adds: this is the V ERY BEST butterfly magnet you can include in your garden) and the blue annual Salvias.
Scott (Gardener Extraordinaire) :
Scott loves the old-fashioned charm of Kiss-Me-Over–The-Garden-Gate (Polygonum orientale). Standing 6’-8’ tall with long trusses of raspberry blossoms in autumn, this is a plant that warrants attention in the fall garden. It seeds energetically (but is easy to weed out if undesired) and so our patch remains in roughly the same place year after year by the poultry barn here at the Farm. We know to expect to answer many, many times each fall the question “What IS that plant over by the barn?!?” Scott also likes the Nicotiana, and in particular Nicotiana sylvestris . Its white flowers are not only lovely but also are intensely and sweetly fragrant during the evening, making it a great choice for the Moon Garden or for placement near a deck or garden bench. For containers Scott likes Sanvitalia . It is a low growing plant that weaves through a container planting and blooms heavily with cheerful yellow flowers all summer, remaining looking great right up until frost. A new plant this year that Scott was very taken with was the Chocolate Cosmos . Its deep chocolate colored blossoms are exquisite in their unusual color and it has been a consistent bloomer all summer.
Bruce (Maintenance) :