I will admit, I am dedicated to perennials. I love how I can plant them once and have reliable plants each season for years to come. And with some varieties, I have a source of new plants from divisions. But there’s nothing that comes close to the unapologetic, neverending color that only annuals can provide. And, great news to those dedicated to planting for pollinators, many are prized by bees and butterflies.
The perennial pollinator garden-above.
Zinnias. This annual has stood the test of time: never going out of fashion. And how could it with its extensive color palette and size options? Rarely do I visit my garden and not find a butterfly or moth perched on a zinnia flower.
If you use a short zinnia variety you can add a generous stand of Salvias just behind it. Orange zinnias with a backdrop of the deep purple-blue of the Salvia is striking and is sure to chase away any remnants of the winter blues. I have found my stand of salvia dripping with honeybees and bumblebees. Luckily the plant develops strong, woody stems to support the weight of the foraging pollinators.
Finally there’s Verbena bonariensis. I’ve written about this annual many times, and will continue to do so until every garden in the city has a few of these beauties. I prefer this variety which will reseed. But don’t panic! The young plants are easy to identify and can be plucked from the garden with ease. But once you see a stand, gently swaying in the breeze with bees, butterflies and even finches stopping for a visit, you will want to leave most of the new season’s seedlings in the ground. They are compact in that they easily tuck themselves into any space in the garden. Their tall, slender shape makes them unobtrusive, in fact they disappear in the garden, all except for their purple flower heads I liken to exclamation points in the garden.