Tuesday, January 13, 2009

ABC Wednesday: No Surprises Here

This week we have reached the end of the alphabet, and we should probably have a little razzle dazzle to celebrate. But long-time readers will not be surprised by my choice from the garden for the letter Z. What else, but that annual dazzler...

the Zinnia!

Did you guess my choice beforehand? Anyone who read my posts this past summer knows how thrilled I was with these old-fashioned annuals.
For anyone who doesn't remember, just a little background is in order. I expanded my roadside garden last spring and couldn't decide what kind of taller perennial to plant in the back. Then I remembered Lisa had posted some photos last winter of her summer garden with a wide row of zinnias she had sown from seed. I hadn't planted zinnias in years, but hers looked so beautiful I decided to try them. Besides, spending a few dollars on packets of seeds rather than spending 10 or 20 times that on perennials seemed like a great temporary solution. If I found a perennial that fit the spot, I could always plant it next year.

I purchased a mix of the tall variety of zinnias and sowed the seeds directly in the ground. Despite a flood immediately after, most germinated and bloomed by August. The stems grew straight and tall, never flopping over, and tolerated both wet and dry feet, not to mention neglect by the gardener. From August until late October they provided a nonstop show of bright blooms in nearly every color. They called out to passersby and brought a smile to my face every day as I came home. All summer long I wondered, why hadn't I planted these lovelies before? Instead of looking for a perennial as a backdrop, zinnias will again be planted in this spot this summer.

Besides these tall beauties, there are many other varieties of zinnias, including the ever-popular profusion series. While I usually use the Profusions in container plantings, they can also be planted for a mass of color like this bed on the U of I campus near the Idea Garden. If you would like to know more about zinnias, you can check an earlier post I did this summer on these faithful flowers.

These scenes from summer are only a memory now, and unfortunately, it will be many months before we see such displays of color again.

Instead of vibrant colors and sunny skies, the temperature tomorrow is supposed to dip below Zero. Rather than working in the garden, it's a good time to crawl under a blanket . . .

. . . and catch some Zzzz's. I think Toby and I might hibernate until spring!

For more ABC posts, please visit Mrs. Nesbitt's Place or the no-comment blog the ABC Anthology.


  1. Bravo, Rose! I knew it would be zinnias. I'll bet the butterflies loved them!

    Toby has the right idea. I'm just dreading leaving the house tomorrow!

  2. I remember you talking of those zinnias. A purrrfect choice for Z and for Toby too.

  3. I love zinnias. They are so bright and colourful. Don't much like the Zero weather, though. LOL!

  4. I'll admit I wasn't sure what you would post for 'Z'-Duh! But zinnias were the perfect choice of course. And the Zero weather made the perfect conclusion to your post.

    I think we both learned a lesson from the zinnias this year, that new and inproved aren't always better than the old standbys. I know I certainly enjoyed mine and plan on planting even more this spring plus adding some different varieties. The 'profusion' plantings we saw at the Idea Garden and nearby were beautiful and such bee and butterfly magnets. We are just going to have to start shopping for seed!

    The word verification is yawning!

  5. Joyce, I figured most people wouldn't be surprised by my choice:) I thought of you today as I was coming home from the dentist just as school was letting out. Hope you have a warm coat and long underwear for your crossing guard duties--stay warm!

    Tina, All summer long Beckie and I kept saying, why haven't we planted these in years? We both had great luck with them.

    Wendy, We need a little bright color now. On the news today they said that Canada was sending us a blast of cold air--thanks a lot:)

    Beckie, You're so right! I've been drooling over all these new plants, when sometimes the tried and true ones are better choices. I had forgotten all the butterflies we saw swarming over those Profusion zinnias. "Yawning," hmmm; I've been doing that all day:)

  6. I was just reading an essay today, Rose, about zinnias. It was written fifty years ago and was quite amusing. I'm going to blog about it later this week.
    And I think you and Toby have the right idea...and my Toby (and Spunky, and Simon, and the rest) and I will join you in that little nap.

  7. Now that's a raZZle daZZle Zinnia, Rose! ZERO here also ... the night is late and like Jodi, will ZIP into bed and catch up on my ZZZs.

  8. Great choice, Rose. This is the first time with Zinnias for me, as I haven't seen them anywhere in my local-hood right from my childhood and I am glad I did find this beauty. After all the flooding rains, one did germinate in my garden but I wanted a red and got a Magenta.
    I love your red Zinnias!

  9. Thanks for the little glimpse of summer. I love zinnias.

  10. Zinnias are an excellent choice. Reminds me of the summer.
    I think puss cat has a very good idea..... hibernating the winter away ZZZZZZZ, I can almost hear his little snorts. Wish we could do that, hibernating the winter away.
    Not much going on in the garden over here right now!
    Grateful birds on the feeders!

  11. what lovely Zinnias rose! love the zero and the cat catching some zzzzz's too! im in the mood for the zoo today though. happy wednesday!

  12. Rose, what a huge contrast! hot zzzzinnias and snow - refreshing!

  13. The zinnia is a very wonderfully coloured flower! I can understand that you love these happy faces in your garden! Thanks for telling about them, I might try them myself!

  14. I'm definitely getting zinnias this year! You've convinced me!

  15. Oh, that's such a beautiful cat!

    Greetings from London.

  16. Jodi, Looking forward to reading that essay! By the way, there are at least 3 of us here that have cats named Toby:)

    Joey, I think the whole Midwest must be frozen today! It's a good day for me to check out one of your soup recipes for supper tonight.

    Chandramouli, Zinnias are an old-fashioned flower here, which is why I probably hadn't planted any in years. But they've become a new favorite of mine--so easy to grow! You never know what color you will get when you plant them, though.

    Rena, Thanks for dropping by; I need some thoughts of summer right now--it's very cold here!

    Maggie May, The ground is covered in snow right now, and it's sooo cold. The birds are hovering near the food I've set out; I'm trying to get up the nerve to go outside and replenish the feeders.

    Kikamz, Thanks for dropping by! I'd love to visit the zoo--a warm one--today:)

    Ewa, I'm trying to warm myself up:)

    Reader Wil, These flowers are so easy to grow; I plan to always find a spot for them in my garden.

    Babooshka, They are, and some, like the ones I showed, grow to 3-4 feet tall.

    Liz, Zinnias are so easy to grow, you can't go wrong. And yes, tequila comes from the agave. I bought one for non-gardening Daughter to have something green in her apartment, and she's trying to figure out now how to make her own tequila:)

    Cuban, Thanks for visiting. I won't tell Toby what you said; his ego is already too big:)

  17. Your Z post is speczacular. I agree that we should curl up with our pets and catch a few ZZZZZZZZs when it dips into Zero territory.

    Thanks for the shout out too. Your post makes me contemplate doing a zinnia garden again. I love the one in the big picture. Do you remember the variety?

  18. Toby has the right idea.

    Next year zinnias are on my 'must grow' list.

  19. Hi Rose! I love zinnias and other old-fashioned annuals.

    Today's a perfect nap day! I'm really dreading going out there to blow the snow off the driveway and walks. Maybe I'll take a nap instead!

  20. You know, I was never wild about zinnia and then a few years ago [ba-doing!!!], something changed and I now think they're so cute! But not as cute as Toby, who certainly has the right strategy for getting through winter--sleep through it!

    About the bird rescue place, they are usually underfunded and have their hands more than full tending to the words so that they don't do advertising or web pages, and you kind of find out about them through word of mouth. If you have any kind of nature group or even humane Society where you live, they may be able to refer you to bird rehabilitators in your area.

  21. Lisa, I bought two packets of a "giant" mix of seeds, but I don't remember what they were called. The red one--which I named a firecracker zinnia--was just one of the many colors.

    Marnie, I will plant them again, too; I don't know why I stopped planting them for so many years.

    Linda, I just finished shoveling part of the driveway so Daughter could get to work. I'm so pooped I may have to take a nap now:)

  22. Monica, Until last year, I had dismissed zinnias as too "ordinary." I've decided sometimes ordinary is good:)
    I'll ask about a bird rescue group the next time I'm at the Humane Society--granddaughter and I volunteer there once a week. I'd just like to know for future reference; I feel so helpless when I see a bird that needs some care.

  23. Your zinnias look so bright and colourful. I think I'll be looking for zinnia seeds for the coming spring. Yes, it is coming, though winter hasn't really bitten here yet.

  24. I"ve always loved zinnias. My great grandmother had them in her garden.

    Great post!

  25. Zinnias were the the first flower I ever grew in my garden back when I was a young bride, and I have a real sentimental attachment to them. Your photos are lovely. Your transition to zero and zzzz is clever.

  26. I was fascinated by the your post immediately before this one then kept reading down the page until I came to "The Nature of Glass" at the Phoenix Desert Garden, and I was completely mesmerized! What a gorgeous exhibit and what marvelous photos of the installations! I was blown away! Of course I enlarged every one of them. I am commenting here since you probably don't look for comments on past posts.

    Thank you for making my day!

  27. I have been catching up on your last month of postings today. So much to read so little time!

    Do you have any of those yummy cookies left over from your grand-daughters culinary skills? I would like a couple please! :)

    Your snow pics are beautiful to my eyes. I will probably not see anything more then a few flurries our way. One disappointment of living in the Deep South. Sigh,

    You sure soaked up some nice sunny days while in AZ! What a beautiful big Bear your daughter has! Pug looks like a Minnie-Me of Mastiff! Too cute together.

    It looks as though you had a Frohliche Weihnachten with family. So many stockings hung by the chimney with care and for Coconut too and Toby gets ornaments. We have one tree dedicated to animals and of course tons of yellow cats for our beloved Skeeter and black ones for our two Black Beauties of present time...

    Your vacation day spent with Daughter in AZ looked like a nice day. I still catch the Rifleman on TV at times! I was hooked on it for many years on Saturday mornings watching it along with other old westerns.

    Sorry your daughter could not be home as I know there is always emptiness with one missing. I was missing at my family home as well as we spent the holidays with the Saints family in VA. We switch up each year and I miss my family but had them for Thanksgiving instead.

    Looks like you are going to be hunkering down for some really cold stuff the next few days. We are not expecting anything like you will be seeing. Burrrr, looks cold to me.
    Bet you will wish you were back in AZ gazing at the beautiful glass work in the Botanical gardens! And I am sure Toby did a great job of keeping the house running smoothly while you were away. lol

  28. Gorgeous!! I like the idea of the 'Profusions' in boxes. I might just get some seed and do that this year instead of going to buy bedding plants!

  29. Dragonstar, Winter has definitely settled in here--all the schools are closing for tomorrow. It will be awhile before I can plant zinnias again.

    Kim, My grandmother and my mother always grew them, too. Somehow I had gotten away from planting them until this year.

  30. Granny Smith, I can see why you have a sentimental attachment to zinnias; I wasn't much of a gardener when I was first married. So glad you got to see the posts on the Chihuly exhibit in Phoenix. His artwork is so beautiful, and it was a spectacular exhibit. Glad you enjoyed it!

  31. Skeeter, I'm so impressed you read all these posts and commented on every one of them! Sorry no cookies left, but I gladly would have shared a couple weeks ago:)

    I loved your idea of a "memory tree" which is what I now call my smaller tree in the living room. Besides the ornaments for Toby and Coconut, there are also ornaments, too, for dear departed furry friends, Roco and Max.

    Yes, I would love to be in Arizona right now! The wind chill for tonight is supposed to be -35 to -45. Now that's cold. I'd gladly send you some snow, but as weird as the weather has been this year, you may get some in Georgia before long.

  32. Jay, I always buy the Profusions as bedding plants, but I might try starting them from seed this year. I don't know if they're as easy to start as the other zinnias or not.

  33. Rose, no surprises here on your “Z.” It’s still a lovely flower. We are having frigid weather here too. I’ll be curling up by the fire with a good book. So what happens next? Do you start over with A or pick a new meme?

  34. Dear Rose,
    I love the zinnia. I save my seeds every year. I over seed my day lilly bed each spring. The zinnias are loved by the butterflies and the humming birds. Wonderful flowers.
    Stay warm. We also are having the artic blast.
    Spring is not too far away.

  35. Sarah, I think the originator of this meme is starting over again. This is the third round. Some people choose different themes, including my friend Liz who did all Beatles' songs this time just so she could get to Y because she had a great photo of a yellow submarine! I'll probably stick to the garden, though.

    Sherry, I don't remember if I saved any zinnia seeds--darn! I was surprised by what a butterfly magnet they were.

  36. Dear Rose,

    Because of you...I started sowing zinnias! Thank you! They have been a wonderful addition to my garden! So, no I wasn't surprised to see them as your Z word! Toby is wonderful and I have a similar photo on my blog post today! Cat owners (do we really own them) so love our babies and they seem to curl up so nicely on the cold days. Rose do keep warm and I hope you are reading a wonderful book on these too cold days!


  37. Great choice for the Z! Your zinnias were glorious this past summer and you inspired me to sow seeds next season. They are a great flower to attract butterflies to the garden. :)

  38. I nearly posted about Zinnias too Rose, even though I've never grown them. I'm glad I left it up to the expert to tell us about them!

    Our two cats are full of zzzzzzzzzzz too at the moment ;)

  39. Toby sure does look cozy all curled up in a ball! You have a wonderful blog, Rose.:-)


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