I grow flowers. I liked to grow vegetables but I have so many pests and troubles about getting the vegetables to the table that I decided long ago to let the farmers handle that, and I would grow flowers. Good decision on my part, though the deer voted against it (they wanted melons and tomatoes and sweet grasses, preferably the expensive variety).
The “bones” of my garden are set, and have been for years; by that I mean I have perennials to give a predictable show. The viburnum will be blooming in about a month and the scent is wonderful. the fothagilla isn’t as nice as it once was, but it still opens up and blooms, my roses gone wild are pretty sturdy (I grow the kind that the Bulgarians grow for attar of roses, the rosa damescena trigintipetala), summer bulbs, and the “specimen” peony or two. But there is the delightful question of annuals, the decorations of the garden which change the feel of it so drastically from year to year.
Zinnias have been my color divas for about three years. I have lots of sun, and they certainly need that. They come in the most wonderful colors, including the exquisite “Envy” variety which is green and goes with everything. They are divinely inexpensive, a packet of top zinnia seeds is about two dollars. They are so easy to grow that anyone can produce big beautiful plants even if they are unsuccessful at growing just about anything else. You can cut them and bring them indoors. If you leave them outdoors you will attract hummingbirds , and goldfinches love love love them.
Other than that, there is no reason on earth to grow zinnias. Did I mention that they do actually have a fragrance, too? It’s not their most highly regarded feature, and it’s not very strong but if you bury your nose in a bouquet of zinnias, you will smell summer. It’s a hot and dry pollen-like smell which just cries to be combined with melon. You can hear cicadas “going off” when you inhale the scent of a zinnia,
I am planting my favorite color combination: the pale green “Envy” variety, red-orange Will Rogers, cadmium yellow and ivory white. They are spectacular in vases together. I will have to wait until the threat of frost is past to plant them, but I have a feeling that this year is going to be warm and frost is over, but I am not betting my stock of seeds on it.
Planting seeds is ever so much less expensive than buying plants. If you buy $100 worth of plants, it seems that the landscape swallows them up; but $15 worth of seeds feels like you end up with far too many and have enough to share with neighbors.
And if you have a few dollars left, and you want to buy just a couple of plants, please consider the dark purple petunia. It is a grand summer showy thing, and it’s the only petunia which has a fragrance. It smells gorgeous, and strikes the perfect note when the air is languid. Goes with zinnias for a splendid summertime arrangement. I do recommend buying the plants, petunias are pretty difficult to grow, and you end up with loads of them when you only need two or three for a good scent and color display.