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Garden Reports and Rejoicing – July 30

When people tour my garden for the first time one flower in particular catches their eye. “Oh, what is this?” they ask. It’s interesting that the Emilia javanica ‘Scarlet Magic’ draws them because it’s one of the smallest flowers in my gardens. Not only is it small, but this annual isn’t planted in groups. Although I bought seed for Emilia three or four years ago I now depend on it to self-seed in Annual Alley.  It’s always a bit uncertain just how many plants of this “tassel flower” will appear.

Yes, this annual is bright. In fact, those who don’t want any red in the garden should either stop reading right now or be willing to bend on their color prejudices. The species E. javanica is and orange red and ‘Scarlet Magic’ is redder. Not pink red, not rose red, but fire engine red or red-orange. I’m not sure just which one I have at this point as the seeds from the cultivar may not come true. Not that this matters because I love this annual in any hue.

No matter what your color scheme, small dashes of a bright or unexpected color can make it come alive. It’s the creative firecracker that livens up the otherwise boring party. “You think that this is a pastel border?” the Emilia asks, “well try this and see if you can ever live without it again!”

Some plants are like a pinch of cayenne pepper in a cup of hot chocolate…once you get a taste it’s hard to go back to the same safe cocoa.

In this part of Annual Alley the Emilia is pretty thick, while in other sections it's less prolific. Somehow the randomness adds to its charm.


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