Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Blanket Flowers Galore!

I was pulling together some plant lists for our Pollinator's Paradise theme in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden and realized we'll be including a nice assortment of blanket flowers (Gaillardia).  This is the second year for this theme and last year was a rousing success with many pollinators in evidence.  Blanket flowers continue to be a colorful addition to this space and in other areas of the garden.  The variety above and directly below is 'Arizona Sun' which is also an All-America Selections (AAS) winner and one of my favorites.  We'll be incorporating many "pollinator appropriate" AAS selections (including blanket flowers) in this garden and will also use this collection to enter the AAS Landscape Design Competition which we've participated in over the last two years (and won).  This display will also include many repurposed containers which should add a nice look.  More on blanket flowers further below.
It was a colder day today with some significant winds.  It looks to be cold and rainy throughout the remainder of the week so we'll focus on as much outdoor gardening as possible (not me personally, I'm too delicate).  Terry, Big John and Larry continued work on the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) take down.  Cheryl was back in action and spent time tidying up the color rooms garden which needed her attention.  Janice continued work on the Spring Plant Sale labels and other office duties while Pat did some major painting and then headed out for some pruning.  Kay and Patrea arrived this morning for garden clean-up in the shade garden and Dr. Gredler continued on his painting projects.  Maury ran some helpful errands and Urban came in for some pruning.  We also saw Art H., Sue M. and many others.
'Arizona Sun'

Blanket flowers (Gaillardia sp.) are native to North America and portions of Central and South America.  I've personally been confused by some of the species references as it is important to note that there are both perennial and annuals species.  However, even the common perennial species (G. aristata) is short-lived although you get your money's worth with such heavy blooming from early summer until frost.  The annual species (G. pulchella) has some fun double forms and is also a strong bloomer.  Many of the newer varieties are classified as Gaillardia x grandiflora which is a cross between aristata and pulchella.  These are also short-lived perennials and typically hardy to zone 5.  I see some varieties listed as aristata and also x grandiflora but regardless, at RBG, we use them all as bedding plants for one season.  Consider checking the "parentage" on those you are interested in so you'll know their life expectancy.  I've never observed any blanket flower in the same location for more than three years but they are so easy and inexpensive to grow and will bloom quickly from seed (and frequently will reseed).  Preferring full sun and well-drained soils, blanket flowers are drought tolerant and are blooming "powerhouses".  They continue to produce blooms well in to October and have a heavy flower count the entire time.  The variety above and directly below is 'Arizona Apricot' which has great coloration and also happens to be an All-America Selections winner (2011).  Most varieties are in the 15"-18" range and are great for the front of a sunny border where they can be appreciated by humans and butterflies alike!  My brief description of blanket flowers doesn't do this plant justice as you'll see just a few of the many varieties to consider further below.

'Arizona Apricot'
 'Mesa Yellow'
'Gayla Eternal Flame'
'Gayla Corneto Blaze'
same as above
'Gayla Pink Spark'
'Sunrita Scarlet Halo'
'Sunrita Yellow'
'Punch Bowl' (annual)
'Punch Bowl' (annual)
'Sundance BiColor' (annual)
'Red Plume' (annual)
'Red Plume'
'Commotion Tizzy'
same as above

'Oranges & Lemons'
'Amber Wheels'
'Mesa Bright BiColor'

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