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Hate watering? Here are some less thirsty annuals

As I've written before, I hate to water. I know I must, but if I can avoid it, I'm happy. So I'm looking for annuals that don't need much water. My search has netted a long list of possibilities for my annual spots this summer. Here are a few suggestions:

Calendula officinalis (common name pot marigold): sun to partial shade, this annual has gold, red or yellow flowers from summer to fall. It grows 12 to 24 inches.

Nicotiana alata (common name nicotiana): Lime green, red, white and yellow flowers from summer to fall in sun to partial shade; I purchased several heirloom nicotianas that I'm sure we'll enjoy - the grower said they will have a lovely scent. These reseed so they will continue to give you pleasure for years to come.

Gomphrena globosa (common name globe amaranth): Blooming late spring to early fall in sun to part shade, this lovely annual flowers in lavender, orange, pink, purple, red or white at a height of 12 to 24 inches.

Cleome hasslerana (common name cleome or spider flower): An unusual bloom in pink, purple or white at 36 to 72 inches, a popular cultivar is Sparkler Mix.

Lobularia maritime (common name sweet alyssum): Flowering spring to early fall, this all-time favorite produces clouds of purple, red, or white blossoms at a height of 3 to 10 inches.

Portulaca grandiflora (common name portulaca or moss rose): These beautiful succulents flower summer to early fall in full sun in orange, rose, yellow and white. At 8 inches tall, some favorite cultivars include Duet, Margarita Banna, Sundial, Mango, Sundial Peach, Sunnyside Flame and Yubi Summer Joy.

Melampodium paludosum (common name melampodium): Yellow flowers in late spring to early fall in full sun at 18 to 24 inches tall; popular cultivars include Million Gold and Showstar.

Dyssodia tennuiloba (common name Dahlberg daisy): These have dainty yellow flowers and thrive in hot conditions from spring through fall. They grow to approximately 6 to 8 inches tall.

Senecio cineraria (common name dusty miller): This annual makes an attractive foliage plant that works well in the foreground, and its gray makes it a good plant for bringing other plants together. It comes in many varieties.

Gaillardia pulchella (common name blanket flower): Annual gaillardia is a low-growing, colorful plant in warm colors that appears fringed; it grows in full sun and blooms from summer to early fall at 18 to 24 inches tall.

Gazania rigens: This bright annual comes in a host of colors in full sun. The flowers close at night.

Melampodium paludosum (common name medallion flower): Abundant, small, yellow, daisylike flowers are low-growing throughout the summer.

Helianthus annuus (common name sunflower): The familiar yellow giant can grow to 10 feet and makes a striking backdrop, providing seeds for the birds. Some varieties come in orange and reddish hues.

East End gardens

The East End Main Street Garden Showcase, June 14-29, will focus on the fabulous talents of our urban gardeners in the East End of Charleston. Last year's event was a huge success with hundreds of visitors coming from as far away as Parkersburg and Ashland, Ky.

According to program director Ric Cavender, "We are putting the word out to East End gardeners who would like to have their gardens included in our annual event. Families, individuals, schools, businesses and churches are all encouraged to sign up. There is a registration fee of $5, but the first 30 addresses to sign up will receive a $10 gift certificate from a local East End business. Registration forms and payments are due at the East End Main Street office by May 16. Yard signs will be delivered to each location to identify "Showcase" gardens and a self-guided tour brochure will be printed and distributed through East End businesses.

There will be a "Meet the Gardeners Day" June 21. This is the first day of FestivALL and gardeners will be in their gardens that day to answer questions from visitors about what they've planted and why, how to care for certain plants, where they got them and, of course, to share gardening tips.

"Our goal is to promote the walkability of the East End and to admire and learn more about urban gardening. This is a great celebration of the community coming together to display their gardening achievements for residents and visitors alike. We plan for at least 30 gardens to sign up and to have even more visitors than last year come out to enjoy them," Cavender said.

I'll be visiting some of these gardens soon - and I'm sure you'll want to as well.

Sara Busse is a Charleston resident and master gardener. She may be contacted at sjbusse@gmail.com.


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