Magazine article Sunset

Glorious Godetias

Magazine article Sunset

Glorious Godetias

Article excerpt

For borders or bouquets, these choice annuals are easy to grow. And they now come in single colors

Old-fashioned flowers like the ones we see in pictures of old cottage gardens are gaining favor once again. Among the most flamboyant of these old-time annual bloomers is godetia (Clarkia amoena), also called farewell-to-spring.

You may already know the wild species, a sprawling plant with wiry stems that's native from California to British Columbia. But two much-improved hybrids, called Grace Series and Satin Series godetia, are now available. They produce clusters of vibrantly colored 2-inch-wide flowers on bushy, uniform plants. And unlike older types sold as mixes, these godetias come in individual colors.

We grew them for two seasons in Sunset's Menlo Park, California, test garden and found them to be outstanding performers. Like all godetias, they prefer cool temperatures, so plant them in fall or late winter for late-spring bloom.

GROW TALL ONES FOR CUTTING, SHORT ONES FOR EDGINGS

Plants in the Grace Series were developed for cut flowers; each plant grows 2 1/2 feet tall and produces 15 or so strong flower stems. The numerous flowers on each stem start opening from the top. Cut stems when the first flowers open; other flowers along the stem will open successively.

In our tests, the outer stems tended to flop over. If you want the entire planting to grow upright, stake up the outer stems. Flower colors include lavender, rose pink, shell pink, red, and salmon; you can also buy mixed colors. …

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