Perennial Lovers- how do you feel about annuals?

christinmk z5b eastern WAApril 29, 2014

I posted this question some years ago on a different forum. Thought we could kick it around here too...

So I assume we all love our perennials here (this being the Perennials forum after all, lol). But how do you guys feel about annuals?

*And by annuals I mean plants that are truly annuals and those that are tropical (etc) grown as annuals by those of us in cooler zones...*


1) use them as much as perennials/rely heavily on them for extra color.

2) use hardly ever- you would prefer to plant something only once. If you do have annuals they are likely to be natural re-seeders...

If you do enjoy annuals, do you plant them amongst the perennials or plant them all in a special bed? Maybe all or most of them are confined to containers and baskets? Do you buy your plants or prefer to start them yourself?

I have mixed feelings when it comes to annuals. Some years I get excited to try a whole bunch of different ones and get all artsy-fartsy with color combos. Then other years I ask myself why I spend so much $$ when I could get some super special and pricey perennial I've long lusted for instead.

For awhile there I got into starting my own annuals (indoors and WS'ing). I've gotten too busy for that lately, except for a few curiosities I can't buy locally. I'm hoping to start some variegated corn and direct sow a few other things this year ((if I don't procrastinate...again)).

I'm lucky in the fact that I work at a nursery and have a nice discount on purchases. I have a tray-full of annuals tucked away in one of our greenhouses that I will stuff in a few hanging baskets and pots. I don't plan to plant up all my pots with annuals this year though- many pots are designated for my hot pepper starts and basil!

I like having some in smaller containers so I can move them around the garden when an area lacks color or a raggedy looking plant needs to be hidden.

I overwinter a number of annuals too, things I can't live without/can't bear to throw out every year. Variegated Abutilon, Oxalis triangularis, Iochroma, a few favorite coleus, unique fuschias etc.

So how do my fellow perennial lovers feel about annuals?

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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

I live in an area where annuals can provide many months, to well beyond one year, in flowers. My husband tends to be more excited about using annuals; I would probably plant out those beds with perennials if the garden was just to please me.

He used to bring home extra flats from jobs, and I saw no reason to turn my nose up at freebies. Now I wait until there is a sale at Costco or HD. (Last week HD had 4" color on sale for $.50/each, so filling our small beds with red petunias was pretty inexpensive.) I usually invest in one flat's worth of dianthus every few years; they keep blooming, or reblooming, until I tire of them and pull them out. I like to plant a few six-packs of purple lobelia around the perimeter of a small patio. Occasionally I will purchase a 6-pack of coleus, or something different, just to have something new to look at for a while.

That is about it for annuals in my garden, unless you count the flats of gazania in the road strips. (So many perennials are sold as annual color, even here, where they truly are perennial) The gazania reseeds readily and I will never have to replace them, unless I want to grow something different in the location.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 1:39AM
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I put my funds towards perennials first, but love both. Had a good laugh the day I saw a tshirt that said, "Friends don't let friends buy annuals", tho!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 3:32AM
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I prefer a wild natural look so I always let the annuals come up with perennials. I deadhead the annuals but many seeds fall, I thin what I don't want but always make sure there's seeds left so they will return each year. I have many kinds & I grow some biennials too. They give great color all season with a good balance & they attract lots of butterflies which I enjoy very much. My favorite annual-- Baileya multiradiata, it self sows & blooms from spring until it freezes, they come up where they want.

My favorite thing about annuals is that they self sow & naturalize but then many of my perennials self sow just as well. Some people do not like that, it just depends on the kind of garden you have.

Thinking off the top of my head the annuals I grow are:

Gallardia pulchella, Blackeyed Susans, Mountain Pinks, Standing Cypress, Lazy Daisy, Tahoka Daisy, Bladderpod, Plains coreopsis, Scarlet Sage, Helenium annum, Dyssodia.

Annuals mixed with perennials & grasses below are red Standing Cypress, Baileya multiradiata & Mountain Pinks.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 4:48AM
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I prefer the annual rudbeckia to the perennial ones, they are short, neat & simple. I always sprinkle seeds about so they come up in different spots every year, good for a smile. Thats another thing I love about annuals.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 4:58AM
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Annual Baileya multiradiata with perennial Lobeleaf Coppermallow.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 5:02AM
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I enjoy them both. I use Proven Winners in my containers for the deck and love them. I grow less expensive annual flowers on the outside of my vegetable garden to lure in the beneficial insects. I normally don't plant annuals and perennials together for no reason other than I never really have. Although this year I may pop in just a few annuals in a new perennial garden to provide a little fullness. In my yard I enjoy having both.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 5:23AM
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I second what nutmeg4061 said. I put my money towards perennials first, then herbs (perennial or annual) and then annuals (unless we're talking seeds and they're all relatively the same price - then its a free for all!). I love perennials but I have no problem with annuals, too. There are some I just can't stand but that goes for perennials, too.
I couldn't live without coleus, lantana (though I know some of the ones I buy are perennials in warmer climates), verbena (same as lantana) and nasturtium (though I kind of consider it an herb). The summer before last I was in love with my snowtopia bacopa but this past summer was maybe too humid and it didn't do as well. I love queen cleomes (I know everyone has mixed feelings on these but I love them) and with any luck some of the Zinnia Envy seeds I received from a trade will germinate (I'm having my doubts now but we'll see) because those are so pretty, too. Oh, and snap dragons... love those!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 5:35AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I love annuals! Can't beat them for sheer flower power. I plant them mostly in pots on my patios and porch - I love pottery and filling the pieces with colorful annuals really shows them off. I also scatter some in the beds here and there, thought not to any great extent and my front landscape is dotted with geraniums - the bright pops of color really liven up the shrub border.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 8:43AM
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My garden has a place for both, though my goal is to create a flower garden that I don't have to plant for every year. To that end, I try to get annuals that will reseed themselves. I save seeds in case a particular spring or area is thin on the annuals, but otherwise, I want the area to grow how it grows. Seeds fall where they may and that's great!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:01AM
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I grow both.

The main perennial beds are almost entirely perennials. There is a separate large bed mostly used for annuals/subtropicals/temperennials, although there are permanent shrubs/small trees/perennials in that bed as well.

You can't try radically different things each year in a perennial planting unless you're willing to recycle constantly on a large scale. Having that option elsewhere makes for more exciting gardening.

If my anatomically correct planting works out I'll post photos later.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:04AM
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robo (z6a)

My husband likes annuals better than I do. In my very shady yard there's so little bright color that he gets attracted to super-bright annuals. Poor guy just can't get used to the green-white-purple look. He also gets impatient waiting for perennials to fill in, so he wants to fill in the spaces in between with annuals. I encourage him to buy enough for a few pots every year to keep him out of my garden. Next I'm going to try to get him into veggie gardening on the deck. I'm a very lazy gardener so I try to look for long lived perennials and shrubs. A little mulch, a little watering, we're all happy.

PS Beautiful pictures!!

This post was edited by robotropolis on Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 9:49

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:12AM
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I use both...Pop in a few new or shared perennials each year. Intersperse annuals here and there. Looks a little different every year, which I like. Somebody gave me variegated lysimachia and it reseeds nicely in my very dry sheltered spot; I just pull up the crowded seedlings and then later in July, trim the seedheads as soon as I can. I split perennials whenever I think they need it, or if I want some somewhere else.
I want to try some black eyed susan vine on my trellis this year, I've even seen the white. Don't know which color performs best.
We still have 50 degree nights and barely 70 degree days, so I'm not planting much young stuff yet.
And I love the variegated corn! But hubby has 400+ acres of field corn and he would swoon if I had something that he'd be sure is ...ill; it usually indicates mineral deficiencies in the big fields. LOL
I can't wait to see if the salvia argantea comes up again.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:11AM
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I like both. We have had to move every few years which means starting my gardens over every few years. Perennials are nice, but I need something to fill the void until my garden gets growing again and i figure out the local plants. I like to have something blooming at all times. Annuals tend to do that nicely. In my case, waiting for the perennials seems like putting my life on hold.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:36AM
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pam_whitbyon(6 Niagara)

Annuals were my introduction to gardening. In the beginning that's all I planted, so it was fairly time-consuming - planting and watering every year. Gradually I switched to more perennials. I had always found the thought kind of intimidating but was hooked once I started to see my "babies" come up again the next year! I still love filling the empty spots with annuals here and there, using them for color and texture where it's needed, but gone are the days of bright, massive displays of petunias and geraniums all that watering.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 11:47AM
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I love annuals in pots and sparingly in the border, to fil any holes after all the perennials leaf out. Luckily I pack the perennials in so tight there is usually very little room to squeeze in any annuals in the beds. However, I love playing around with the colors, textures and forms of different annuals in pots around the patio, in hanging baskets, wall planters, etc. I choose specific annual plants for hummingbirds to bring them closer for me to watch, and love to brighten shady areas with colorful annuals as well. Shopping for annuals and arranging them at the store as they will be seen in the pots is one of the things I look forward to in spring!! It literally takes me a couple of hours, darting back and forth between greenhouses filled with different annuals, to get "thrillers, spillers and fillers" for all the containers. It is pure "me time" and I love it. This Saturday I plan to buy most of the annuals for my pots, but I currently have mesclun mix growing in 3 of the 5 patio pots. Trying to multitask while is was still cold (actually is still a cold spring so far).
Can't wait for shopping on Saturday!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 12:32PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-Eric, that is how I'm starting to feel about them now that space is becoming limited. It's nice to have something new to "create" every year. Although this year I have a bunch of re-arranging, digging out, and new perennial plantings on my docket.... I tend to get the itch every few years ;-) Yes! Please do post pics of your properly proportioned plantings!

Here is a pot combo I loved- all the more so because the Abutilon, Fuchsia, and Oxalis were overwintered, only new thing was the Lobelia!

-ginnier, LOL! I could see how that corn would lead to concern! There is a dwarf variegated one called 'Tiger Cub'...maybe you could sneak that in a container or something ;-> I LOVE SALVIA ARGENTIA! Mine does come up yearly, although on the whole it is a short lived plant. It is super easy to keep going via seed though...mine germinated in three days!

-GreatPlains1, (oops, guess your going by 'TexasRanger10' bad), is that a dwarf form of R. hirta? If so, does the progeny come true? Mine always get so tall and floppy...I've been thinking I should replace them with dwarf versions.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 12:40PM
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I have one side of my garden that is pretty shady, and some of my favorite shade perennials don't have a long bloom time. I didn't even realize until fairly recently that there are more shade annuals than I knew of, and so I have been planting some of those this year to provide more color in that part of the garden (browallia and torenia). And then over in the sunny side of the garden, I like annuals that spill over into gaps and fill up the bare spots in a way I like - last year I used fan flowers, this year nasturiums and annual verbena. I am still establishing my garden, and figuring out how to have consistent perennial colors in all the different parts all season long, and until it is all settled, annuals help make sure I never go through a period with no flowers at all.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 12:58PM
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Pardon me? confused on that first part.

Not sure but suspect its R. hirta, never really looked it up. One came up volunteer a while back, no idea where it came from since I never planted seeds, I didn't like them much, but I do like this one. Maybe its biennial because it doesn't bloom til year 2 then dies, they've all done that. They're bout 8" tall, not a lot of blooms/plant but the blooms are very large on short stems, sort of cartoonish looking. Happy flowers.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 3:07PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

While I do understand the value of perennials (otherwise why would I pop in here?), I have never really understood some of the perennial snobs (amusing double meaning there) I have met here and there. Yes, perennials can be great $-wise as they can potentially return year after year. However, that is assuming critters, disease, or freak weather doesn't wipe them out. But annuals provide a number of real advantages:
1) Typically they bloom from spring/early summer through frost. Something that can't be said for many if not most perennials.
2) Annuals seem to offer a wider palette of color and forms to chose from. (Particularly since what perennials one can choose from is dictated, at least in part, by what will survive one clime.)
3) Based on changing tastes or availability, annuals enable one to "change things up" from year to year. Something that would be very costly -- not to mention a royal pain in the dupa with perennials.
4) If vermin -- deer and what not -- come through and chomp the plants done to the ground? Well, with many perennials, you can kiss any flower show that season goodbye at that point and maybe the plants as well. With annuals, even if the plant has been leveled, they typically are inexpensive enough that one can go and buy some replacements to still enjoy the same season.

So suffice to say, I like annuals. I use them in pots/containers as well as mixed in and amongst perennials.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 3:51PM
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As above, no two gardeners are alike.
But interesting/interested gardeners grow (e.g. as per Pam's entry).

At this stage I'm strongly orientated to mixed perennial gardening, my ultimate focus being lots of changing flower colour from early spring to late fall. We need it here with our winters. Still our strong seasonality presumably makes the type of gardening possible.

In my experience, this type of perennial gardening is always "a work in progress". It's a juggling act even when the beds are established. Periodic renovations are required. To use Mila's term, there's lots I'm still "figuring out".

Particularly experiential, but also other types of learning obviously help.

I certainly use annuals if that's the only way to get flower colour; e.g. areas too small to rely on perennials alone: more shaded areas (to get colour after spring): when establishing mixed perennial beds: for remediation (if something goes wrong with a plant or area of a perennial bed).

One thing I've learned (with my type of perennial gardening), is not to use reseeders. I found that Cleome was a beautiful annual filler, but it lingers on (in an undisciplined way) into the following year.

The one use I always like for annuals, is in strategically located pots and planters around the property. We have a large deck and a relatively small garden. Potted annual (one of my spouse's fortes) are, for instance, very useful in breaking up the lines of the deck. I feel she is quite right in saying that they add too, rather than detract from, our perennial beds.

Great pictures/gardens TR an CMK.

Below: August 6, 2013:
(The pelargoniums also cover the back of the New England asters which aren't blooming yet. Our adult son still insists on a planter of marigolds).

This post was edited by SunnyBorders on Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 16:13

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 4:10PM
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sandyslopes z5 n. UT

I hardly ever plant annuals in the flower beds. It's too much work for a plant that's short lived.

I do plant lots of annuals in about 40 or so pots that I put on my decks. Love them for the color and constant flowers they provide. That's well worth it.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 4:26PM
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I have some otherwise neat perennials that seed aggressively. Scutellaria wrightii (Purple Skullcap) is an example, it acts just like an annual in bloom power & growth rate. Its a well behaved, neat tight mound of small leaves, long blooming purple. I believe the trade off of a spring thru late summer blooming time is putting up with seeds -- these in particular are the exploding kind. I have the same plant in red except it has even smaller leaves & even denser in habit. They make great border plants but I do spend a heck of lot of time weeding them out of my paths or moving them elsewhere. Even so, I love the plant.

Another exploding seeder is Flame Acanthus. At least if you loose one after paying for it, you have backups coming up the next year so that's a plus as I'm dealing with an extensive garden area which would be cost prohibitive otherwise.

So another asset -- annuals are a real money saver along with adding season long consistent color when other plants are flagging or past bloom time.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 17:03

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 4:37PM
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Had to give up on Scutellaria myself, TR.

What a lovely colour!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 5:07PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-Tex, my mistake. I'm sure you can understand my confusion though, since you have posted some of the exact same pictures of the exact same garden and plants (both on this and other forums) that GreatPlains1 did when she was a member here. ;-)

-SB, oh wow. That is awesome. I really like the backdrop of evergreens (arbs?) you use as a foil for your myriad of colorful perennials. I've been out in my garden all day and have been trying to figure out what sun plants I want to put in this one area (that I ripped a juniper from- also a rose soon). Your pic turned the light-bulb on above my head. Phlox! I definitely need another tall phlox in that area. I've long regretted not picking up a smoky purple 'Natural Feelings' phlox at a local sale some years ago. Think I will try and hunt one down and plant it next to my 'Mardi Gras' Helenium and dwarf zebra grass! Many thanks for the inspiration ;-)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 5:23PM
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SB it likes it dry. Last spring we were unusually wet & I lost almost all of them & had very few blooms. This year, I am welcoming those dormant (nuisance) seeds coming up from 2012 to reestablish the population. Case in point.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 5:27PM
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For mixed perennial gardeners who aim for continuous flower colour, below is a location in which to defer to annuals; namely, when there's not enough space for continuous perennials colour.

Below a garden I planted and have maintained for over 10 years. (The excellent hardscaping is, of course, not my work).

Medium-sized and small dahlias, pelargoniums and tuberous begonias are my favourite annual fillers.

Picture (Aug 31, 2013).

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 5:34PM
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CMK, the screen at the back is swamp cedar, planted by the previous owner of the property, just before we came in.

I'm not very knowledgeable about trees, but we've really looked after that hedge. Yearly attention from the arborist (trimming and fertilizing), and consistent watering, have really paid off.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 8:41PM
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CMK, Seems you have been checking around to see my posts on other forums. Since certain persons here on the Perennials Forum had GP1 thrown off GW for posting that I & another person got a warning from Webmaster on this very forum, I can no longer post with that name. It doesn't take much to get thrown off I found, just a few members can do this to another member. The other person who was banned & who is also a serious gardener knows what I am talking about.

When a person is thrown into the category of being a troll or troublemaker by small group of old timers because they find their posts objectionable & calls on other posters to turn the person in to the Webmaster it becomes difficult for the targeted person to join in discussions.

I am only interested in discussing plants so please, drop this attempt to open old problems.

I know my garden is different than most posters here but still, I do think I have some worthwhile things to discuss & would like to continue to do so in peace, if thats OK with certain people.

The shrub below is sometimes called a Texas Ranger or barometer bush since it blooms whenever there is rain. Its one of my favorites, hence the name.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 21:36

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:19PM
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I love all Flowers 'great and small' perennials or annuals. I'll admit I am tired of seeing impatiens, petunia's at nurseries...but the color of annuals are awesome! Esp. Zinnia's and Calendula's. If the Bee's and Butterflies enjoy them, so much the better. This season I will have penstemon perennials, I am psyched, so watch for future pictures.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 12:20AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I like annuals that come up and walk around my garden. I like that I am not in control of them. I seem to have them coming up this year because of the november rains. I guess they would be biennials , to be exact since they come up as low rosettes in the late fall. I very rarely BUY annuals. They come home as seeds in my pocket. Almost time to go to a friends house and harvest me some Texas Blue Bonnets. I am trading some salvia romeriana seeds for them.

â¦.I love Texas ranger bushes. They are not subtle⦠I like that and I like your posts. Even the un subtle ones.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 12:24AM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

I've always used annuals in a few pots on the decks and porch, but recently I've been adding annuals to the garden beds, especially the shade beds. I've grown fond of coleus in many colors to brighten up shade areas.

TR10, that skullcap is beautiful. I've never had any luck. Is that texasranger shrub really a shrub, or is it a shrubby annual or perennial? I would grow that as an annual if it were one for sure!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 9:07AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Scuttelaria drummundi and S. wrightii are perennials in Central Texas.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 9:20AM
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Love the picture of the Texas ranger/barometer bush shrub, TR.

It is interesting to see gardens in very different growing conditions from ones own.

I think it's easy to forget that other gardeners, in other regions, have different gardening options from our own.

Of course, one also sees widely different tastes and intents in different gardens.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 2:29PM
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Thank you for the friendly comments above SB, thyme & wantanamara.

It is easy to forget how different the look & overall feel of gardens can be in different regions. I have not traveled much & a lot of the gardens on this forum look very unusual or simply impossibly lush. I can't get my mind around the landscape where some of you live. I started thinking about the angle of the sun on the earth and how we must look like an overexposed photo to ya'll at times.

I noticed posting photos in a thread really emphasizes this, some of you guys are so green, shady & wet looking. We are getting in the upper 90's next week so considering the temps, length of growing seasons along with the amount of sun, it would stand to reason we are, in a way, living in different worlds when it comes to gardening.

The Texas Ranger is a shrub. There are 2 types-- Leucophyllum candidum (2-3ft) & Leucophyllum frutescens (4-5ft). Its also called Cenizo or Purple Sage & sometimes Texas Sage. Its gorgeous in or out of bloom. I'm on the edge of its hardiness zone & it needs good drainage.

Here is a photo of the red version of the Skullcap & uh, er, theres a couple annuals behind it, yellow of course because that is so common around here.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 3:02PM
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For me, the attraction of gardening is the sense of accomplishment I get from putting something in that will grow there for years. So much of my life involves things that have to be done over and over again, or tasks that involve moving pieces of paper's nice to have a task that produces a long lasting tangible result occasionally. Accordingly, I like trees and tough, almost invasive perennials. Planting things that I'll have to plant again next year is discouraging to me. Also, I tend to obsess about something for a while, then lose if I planted annuals I'd plant a bunch one year, then lose interest and have nothing next year. If you plant annuals and are busy one year, you are often left with an empty mulched flower bed...those bug the heck out of me. They strike me as wasted space. I actually would prefer weeds. And I hate impatients.

This post was edited by edlincoln on Wed, Apr 30, 14 at 22:59

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:19PM
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Some annuals are just too ingrained into my gardening paradigm to not use. Of course, some of that's because I don't think of them as annuals because they weren't where I grew up in South Africa: sweet allysum, geraniums (perlargoniums), plumbago (which is supposed to be hardy to my zone, but last summer, 2013, was the first year I'd tried it here and it did not survive the vicious winter we experienced) and nasturtium. All of those get added in some way most years.

Most of my annuals are grown from seed, but others, like the geraniums, I try to overwinter as cutting. I love marigolds, cosmos, and cornflowers.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 11:47AM
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First to perennials, always. I use to think annuals were a waste of money. Then the late freeze of April 2007, in which I lost 1/3 of my perennials. My favorite gardening center pick that year to close. As much as I love green, I needed some color so I got a few annuals. I got a lot of complements on my yard that year. So now I grow them from seed because no way I'm spending that much on annuals. Also growing them from seed gives me a chance to try ones I can't find around here.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 4:40PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I planted larkspur, cosmos, ipomopsis rubra (standing cypress), cowpen daisy, once years ago on different years and they are now volunteers every year , regular as clockwork. They might as well be perennials, since they are perennially there. The larkspur and cosmos has been around for 35 years. When I moved it came with some dirt of the perennials that I dug up and moved out here. Wood sorrel hitched a ride too.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 5:01PM
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wantanamara, I haven't grown larkspur in years, there's a house close by that has a gorgeous mass that's naturalized every spring, I ought to try to get some seeds from her.

Here's a cute little annual native Phacelia campanularia I shot today, they are coming up among some dainty Baby Blue Eyes. I've got a lot of purple this year with these, Tahoka Daisy's, Scutellaria wrightii & annual lupines.

I have a couple areas of mostly white with the Lazy Daisy's but the Gallardia pulchella will dominate soon. Just from that one pack of seed from Native American Seed last year & I have a low growing mass of white in a couple areas. It was a good choice.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Fri, May 2, 14 at 4:16

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 4:12AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

4 years ago I started some plants of Monarda punctatata and some Monarda citriodora, Blanket flower, Phacelia tanacetifolia, American basket flower and Ammi magus,silver leafed sunflower. If I have some well placed rains in the fall, it is a given that I will have many flowers in spring with absolutely no work or money spent. Poppies are an annual here because of the killing summer. I do weed them out of where I don't want them. I must also note that I like the perennial wild larkspur Delfinium carolinanum so much better that the normal annual larkspur, But it does not give a colorful MASS. It has a delicate beauty.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 10:03AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

--wantonamara, gorgeous pics! That Ammi is a cool looking plant. Good alternative to Queen Anne's Lace, as I imagine it isn't invasive?

Ps. I would love to see more of what you have going on the deck there. Aloe and succulent collection?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 11:12AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

That would be getting off topic,â¦.but this whole thread is off the forums focus. I am comfortable with wandering focus. Yes I am a collector of Aloes and cactus and other heat loving water thrifty plants. I garden with minimal watering and a certain amount of cold weather panicked carrying of pots. I am always saying That I am going to get these prickles into the ground, but the summers slip away with work deadlines.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 11:26AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

annuals.. fill in spots in any given year.. while i figure out how to jam another perennial in there.. lol ..


    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 11:27AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I am hearing reports that the Ammi has naturalized in the Houston area. Your winter rains would be what would make these seeds sprout. I see them only after wet winters. Our decade long drought has had them come up only a couple of years. I was surprised to see them this one year after our historic drought broke for one year. Our soil is very porous and things do not seed out as easily as places east of us. I am comfortable with a certain amount of chaos in my yard..

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 11:32AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

To me, "lawns" are areas for seeding annuals. I only have natural bunch grasses and the annuals add to the morass. Beds too, come to think of it. The Perennials just grow up through the annuals once they are spent.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 11:37AM
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Gorgeous pictures wantanamara, you guys down there are ahead of us. Is your spring later than normal? Ours is.

Annual Tahoka Daisy with Yucca whipplei, Sedum & Cheddar Pink Dianthus. These daisy's get much taller here, in front they are only about 6 to 8" tall. Shows the difference soil can make. I like the short ones better so I'll probably do something different next year in the courtyard.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 2:46PM
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Here's the Tohaka in leaner soil, what a difference hey? Looks like a completely different species.

Behind is the single Blackfoot daisy I got to germinate, he's kind of lonely. So far, no sign of seedlings & I've been looking real close. I spread them all over this area last fall hoping they'd colonize.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 2:51PM
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At least the purple winecups & primrose are coming on strong. A Horsemint volunteered behind it, I'd weeded them out about 4 years ago but now I think I miss them, I like them in late summer the best when they get subtle grey & light purple, its a long lasting generously reseeding annual but good for texture.

I decided to let it fill in more than in the past, do less thinning. I'm even thinking of making a little yard sign that says 'Pocket Prairie'--- what do ya think?

Barely detectable behind the winecups is a Sphaeralcea ambigua. I never got one from the seeds from PoSW but a friend in NM sent some from her property and now I have 6 seedlings planted in various spots. Thats exciting for me! I've got various baby penstemons coming up all over the front too.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 3:13PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

TR,The Blackfoot daises will colonize. The seed might need to get a little time to get right. I had a wildfire back in 2011 on the small hilltop, and it has set that area afire with BFD. I put out a bunch of tahoka daisy and I still have not seen a one. I did water where the tahoka daisy was planted several times which is a lot for me. Water is scarce and scarcer.

Those photos are from a couple years ago. Spring is late here too due to cold AND lack of rain. the Monarda punctuates are up but waiting for that shot of rain to breathe life into them. They are crying to me." Water, Water, Water, we are dying here and the hose is at our feet. You are so mean"..It is SO tempting but I need to keep my water for the house right now.

We are on an extreme water diet inside and outside the house. In Austin , they are allowed to water once every 2 weeks. We are on a cistern so rules don't apply to us.. We just run out and need to ship it in and that water is the hardest water I have ever run into. Here I go off topic again.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 3:44PM
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Glad something good came from the fire, I remember that year, pretty scary time.

We are dying of thirst here too. I planted so many seeds last fall -natta--very few have come up, maybe I should put a hose to the spots. They'll come up eventually & I'll have no idea what they are by then because I will have long forgotten. I do have about a zillion flame flowers up so no matter what, I'll have a steady supply of pink til fall. They are as thick as grass out there in spots.

The friend in NM who is trying to establish a plot with natives is just as desperate for water.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Fri, May 2, 14 at 16:22

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 4:17PM
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duplicate post

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Wed, May 7, 14 at 18:29

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 4:20PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Are those tahoka daisies a frilly ferny seedling? I think I see something ever so tiny in the granite. Fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 1:22AM
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They look a lot like the standing cypress seedlings except the leaves are thicker. I think they look great growing with Hairy Golden Asters. The plants are close to the same height, they both bloom all summer & both have those fuzzy balls on the plants while still blooming. Its like a mass of yellow daisy flowers & purple daisy flowers softened with fluffy seed balls. They came up during late winter here from what self sowed.

N.A.P. seed catalog says they grow well in caliche. My Cowpen daisy's are only now just coming up, I probably got those sowed about the time you sowed the Tahoka seeds.

Your silver sunflower is two times taller than mine was last year with three times more flowers. This year I've got a few up by the wall.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 2:24AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I don't know what dead body or pile of poop that seed found but it put in a great impersonation of the giant legendary Beanstock . It usually does not grow that large .It must have sucked out all the strength in the soil there be cause its kids do not like to grow there. They roam around my garden. I see them at about 6 ' at LBJ wildflower center.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 9:24AM
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Love annuals! My stalwarts for covering up after perennials fade are Candytuft, Love-In-A-Mist, and Nasturtiums. I'm trying out Cosmos this year, but the #$@% slugs won't leave them alone!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 3:18PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Annuals - couldn't garden without them. Having the attention span of a hyper-active gnat, annuals are the only solution to termible boredom. Growing everything from seed tends to make me feel both proprietory and, especially if there was a long wait for flowers, even a tad precious. Consequently, I find it harder to toss tedious perennials and, unless they are either flimsy or totally horrible, I end up stuck with things for longer than I would like. Annuals, though - what an easy thrill - new and exciting every year. I sow many, many annuals each season - far more than perennials. I have tried experimental Californian meadows when layia, platystemons, escholzias, tassel flowers, phacelias and sand verbenas ran amok .....all in 1 short year. The following year, I was in Namaqualand, with masses of african daisies - ursinias, gazanias, osteos, felicias, heliophilas, gilias. Wildflowers, moon gardens, scree gardens, umbels and grasses, dry gardens.....and on and on. In fact, if I had to choose between perennials or annuals, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to go with the annuals....and those which wander about where they please are top value.
Having said that, I have tried the annual forum and almost died of misery with the seemingly endless petunias, bedding plants and zinnias.....when the choices are as wide as the ocean.
Which brings me to stating how much I have been enjoying Texas R's and Wantonamaras postings - I like nothing more than trying new things (I suspect I have done my share of whining about the ubiquitous echinaceas and hemerocallis). I do enjoy comparing garden styles in different cultures too. For example, agatstache has never gained much traction in the UK and we are baffled by the massive range of US hostas.........yet alpines, for example, are more or less invisible in the US while we love our rockeries and scree gardens (although it is a geographical, as well as cultural phenomenon).

I like to try stuff I have never seen before (rohmeria hybrida or papaver tianschanicum for example), knowing the pay-off is gratifyingly rapid, easy and ephemeral.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 4:54PM
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Check this interesting one out. I got an e-mail from a friend who is also into native plants & lives in New Mexico. We've been having a lot of fun trying to figure out whats coming up wild on her hill.

Wild Heliotrope (aka Blue Phaecella or Scorpionweed). Its a spring blooming annual. This is not related to the typical garden heliotrope. Seed collecting has begun.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 6:18PM
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Here's another wild one. Some type of Astralagus. Interesting spotted seed pods. She said this one is more common in the area & is low growing.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 6:26PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Hmmm, I grow scorpionweed, aka phacelia tanacetifolia as a green manure - an absolute bee magnet.
Loving the little blue legume (have a bit of a thing for vetchlings and lathyrus and had a bit of a pea binge this year - bellinensis, chloranthus, sativus, tingitanus, rotundifolius, sylvaticum aureum, venetus, niger......and, of course, odoratus).

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 7:16PM
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"and of course odoratus"

I see I'm going to have to do a serious late night google study of those plant names, they aren't familiar. Wow, do you have those memorized just off the top of your brainy head or what? I always have to doggedly look the spelling of the Latin name up which takes forever & am the worst offender for using common names-- but I like the common names because they often provide local folklore or medical info on the plants & thats interesting.

I've mostly studied the western natives so those are more familiar but still, it would take me some time to fire them off like that.

I like many of the native SW plants in the legume family. I want to try some more Locoweed, seed is available from PoSW. The ones I tried a couple years ago got killed with kindness. The plants my friend has coming up aren't commercially available & I'm always interested in those.

I know what you mean about the Annuals forum, I go, I check, I leave. Step 59 in how to breed zinnias & the typical common nursery fare. Unfortunately the Natives and Meadows & Prairie forums are not very active, to put it mildly. I think it would be nice to set up a seed trading network of "unavailable in the trades native seed" on GW but its just dog-dead over there, a post can sit in limbo for weeks or months.

Rockeries & alpines do not fare well here as a rule. Even chicks n' hens need to be grown in shade. The summer sun just fries that stuff as a rule. I'd love to be able to grow them but it would amount to cruelty to plants. Colorado is the closest place for successfully growing them.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Wed, May 7, 14 at 20:07

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 7:57PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Campanula, Email me through my page and I will send you seeds of some Texas annuals. They are blooming now. Many are moisture tolerant. I was just seeing some 4; ipomopsis rubra that were blooming a yellow orange.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 1:19AM
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Don't get me started on my dislike of petunias. Normally there everywhere but I think our hard winter might have caused some problems. Some of the annuals like petunias I'm use to seeing at the garden centers aren't there. I grow one alpine and that's eldelweiss. Still can't believe it survived.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 4:09PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Ho Tex, when I was starting to garden for others, I employed a couple of useful strategies (useful to me, that is) when asked to identify certain plants - either the muffled latinate mumble (usually completely made up) or a confident assertion that it was most definitely, a viburnum. I have got better at it and in truth, I also love words.....humulus lupulus, clematis viticella purpurea plena elegans - poetry! Course, I often still only have a fairly vague recall - endings especially are often suspect while my spelling is atrocious.

Wantonamara e.mail racing towards you - a fantastic offer I absolutely could not miss. Will, of course, keep an eye out for interesting seed for you. It is hard to imagine many parallels between East Anglia and Texas (although Texas is huge and varied.......but while the fens are classed as wetlands, climatically, we are semi-arid with wide skies, flat windy landscapes, little tree cover.... tough natives and simple wildflowers sit comfortably in the isolated fenland peat cuttings,alder carr and miles of marsh, meres, reedbeds. Hybrid roses, dahlias, hydrangeas have np place at all in the Yare valley.....but graceful willowherbs, sedges and eupatoriums are entirely at home.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 4:28PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Scorpionweed is a native annualTexas flower in semi arid Central Texas. They like points east (read wetter). But they do not come up on too dry years. Not many this year. I bet the ipomopsis rubra would do really well there.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 6:02PM
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Here's Western-y poetics for ya.....

Snakeweed, Shindagger, Horsecrippler, Dogweed, Cowblinder, Rattlesnake Master, Flameflower, Scullcap, Starvation Cactus, Antelope Horns, Mosquito Grass (or Skeeter Grass if you're a real hick), Barometer Bush, Rabbitbush, Winterfat, Mormon Tea, Indian Blanket, Mexican Hats, Scrambled Eggs, Texas Yellow Star, Locoweed, Bitterweed, Scorpion Flower, Devil's Claw, Navajo Tea, Prince's Plume, Leadplant, Indian Tobacco, Desert Spoon, Beargrass, Soap Tree Yucca, Buckwheat, Firewheel, Deergrass. Beargrass and of course Sitting Bull Falls Cardinal Flower.

Its not really poetry but its a bit of brief story telling.

I'm not in the horticulture or nursery business so unless I need to specify or pin a species down for some reason I use the vernacular, some people frown on this. I do look them up when necessary.

Semi-arid, wide skies & flat windy landscapes sounds like it would be perfect for many of the natives around here. What kind of soil, I'm interpreting that you are saying there is a lot of natural peat?

BTW, wantanamara is in a primo-de-la-primo spot for native plants-- the Texas Hill Country-- the place is famous for their natives. They've got the Lady Bird Johnson Native Plant Demonstration Gardens and everything. Lady Bird did more for stirring up interest in natives than anyone else I know of. Our highway wildflower plantings, among other things, show her influence.

Each year I collect gobs of seeds stored in several ziploc bulk sized baggies with various SW & prairie natives to keep my populations in check since I have more limited space than some lucky people I could mention. If I lived on an acreage, I'd just let them fall. I'd be glad to to send them later in the year for fall sowing, I try to pass them along to anyone really interested in naturalizing natives. Most are easy, low growing & long blooming making them good for naturalizing with reliable color.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Thu, May 8, 14 at 18:20

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 6:10PM
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Campanula UK Z8

No Tex - you are wrong. It really IS poetry.......luminous and evocative - it speaks perfectly of time, place and a fierce struggle with a truculent climate.

We have Love in the Mist, Virgin's Bower, Cuckoo Pint, Ladies Smocks and other assorted sentimental stuff. Thankfully, we also have Stinking Gladwyn and Piss the Beds.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 6:12AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I never heard that dandelions are called Piss the Beds before. The things I learn on this forum. Thank you. I love names that come from some odd dusty corner.Is it used as a diuretic or is that a superstition?
I use both common and Latin names. Whatever pops into my mind first. I do live in an area where using words longer than 3 syllables is sometimes looked down on by some. This penchant was much more evident years ago, but I was called a presumptive @ss the other day for slinging out a Latin Name. Americans, especially some in the south are uncomfortable with verbiage that is from other languages, dead or alive. In some circles it is not fashionable and darn right uppity to even allude to things that smack of an education.Personally, It is a very easy way of dressing up as smart. I imagine that this penchant is not as prevalent east of the pond. Texans love to mispronounce spanish place names and even English place names. Pedernales River is PER-de-nails. San Phillipe becomes San FILLapee. Manor become MAINor. Menchaca become Manchack. Guadalupe looses the "e" and accented on the first syllable. Latin sends people into a tizzy of aggressive inferiority complex. I watch my mouth when out wandering a field. I think Europeans are much more comfortable with other languages and the knowledge systems attached to them. They don't look at them as unsurmountable mountains to walk around. I am married to a russian and I can't tell you the fear that the sight of three consonants together (Svj) in a name does to a rational Texan.

This post was edited by wantonamara on Sat, May 10, 14 at 15:35

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 9:52AM
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wantanamara, dad blame it girl, you gotta speak the local language down there in Texas otherwise folks'll say yer all swole up talkin' like some sorry uppity yankee married to a ruskie. Makes ya sound like you think yer smarter n' them & they don't like that.

camp-- I love those names & have never heard of them. We ought to make a list.

Here's one: bavinca vine. I like this name since I really do hate ba-vinca major or ba-vinca minor, both of which have to be the most unoriginal & boringest ground covers next to monkey grass except usually you see both together along with privet which I call the unholy three. People plant this loathsome amalgamation because it conveniently fills the requirement intrinsic to the circumstance of requiring conventional "correct landscaping principles" for the lackadaisical.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Sat, May 10, 14 at 15:30

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 2:49PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

â¢Posted by TexasRanger10 7
. Makes ya sound like you think yer smarter n' them & they don't like that.

Just gives them a chance to get "edumacated". heh

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 4:20PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

So, I guess will have to self censor more effectively because someone has a inferiority complex and is frightened of a few plant names. OK, I will try to be nicerâ¦.NOT.

I like Shame boy and Dog weed. I think I will start a thread on this

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 5:22PM
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Also, I just got some small Calendula starts in exchange for some violet plants. I put them in on Saturday, but they still seem a little droopy. Hopefully they'll rebound now that our weather's finally warming up.

The love-in-a-mist plants are about to bloom. I can't wait, even though we live in a windy spot and the flowers don't last too long.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 7:52AM
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