Home » Gardens & Map » Annuals Garden

Annuals Garden

Season 2018: “Stars & Stripes”

Oh Say, Have You Seen Our Annual Beds? Visitors to the DABG this summer will be seeing “Stars & Stripes.”

Here’s a preview — from our greenhouse — of what’s to come:

Broad stripes of burgundy, blue, and white fill the entry bed, starring Victoria salvia, angelonia, vinca, petunias, and ageratum.

Patriotic colors are repeated in the upper McKay flowerbed (alongside the brick plaza), where the red and white star-shaped flowers of Cypress vine twine around a blue obelisk. In the lower McKay bed, alternating patches of burgundy and blue petunias are bordered by a row of white begonias and separated by trailing clumps of lime-green sweet potato vine.

Many of the 16 square annual beds display the shapes of stars or stripes, and some of the individual flowers also reflect the theme:

  • Headliner Night Sky petunias are dark purple with white “stars.”
  • The blossoms of Popstars Red annual phlox look like bursts of red and white fireworks—and they smell good too.
  • Low-growing Bidens in Popstar Yellow should bloom continuously all summer.
  • An unusual marigold called Harlequin has red-and-yellow striped petals and grows at least 20 inches tall.

Each summer it takes thousands of flowers to fill the DABG annual beds. A rough count of the plants in the greenhouse just before outdoor planting this year came to more than 6,800. The majority were raised from seed, exceptions being about 1,300 purchased plugs, plants started from slips (coleus) or from tubers stored over the winter (dahlias), and a few flowers purchased already grown.

Some interesting flowers we are trying for the first time this year include a monkeyflower (Mimulus), ornamental oregano (‘Kent Beauty’), and cherry brandy Rudbeckia. Come and see if our experiments succeeded (or not) as we proudly hail the 2018 season!


AAS Display Garden

AAS-Corporate-LogoEvery year the Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens looks forward to receiving sample flower seeds or plugs that have been named All-America Selections based on their garden performance in tests conducted throughout the United States.

  • Season 2018. Several 2018 All America Selections are showcased in the AAS display garden, located at the base of the McKay beds: Queeny Lime Orange zinnias, Mexican heather, ornamental peppers in Onyx Red, and Super Hero Spry marigolds. In addition, recent AAS winners from 2017 appear in other beds, including Evening Scentsation petunias, Supra Pink dianthus, and vinca in Orchid Halo and Pink Halo.
  • During Season 2017, the two small beds at the upper and lower ends of the plaza, one in sun and the other in shade, exhibit All-America selections (AAS), including 2017 winners Asian Garden Celosia and bi-colored pink EnduraScape™ Verbena.
  • The 2016 AAS-award-winning bedding plants included two types of geraniums (‘Brocade Cherry Night’ and ‘Brocade Fire’) and the first-ever lavender-colored salvia, called ‘Lavender Jewel’. 
  • Season 2015. AAS also kindly sent Pink Flame Bounce Impatiens and Spreading Shell Pink Sunpatiens, both 2015 winners.

Many of the flowers in the other annual beds are also previous AAS winners, as noted on their identification stakes.

We hope visitors to this summer’s gardens find a lot to smile about!

[ Article by Kennie Harris. ]

About the Dubuque Arboretum Annual Gardens

What lends more cheerfulness to gardens than annual plants?

For a show of pure color, few plants can measure up to the contribution of annuals in a garden.

Annuals-500x339-WThe Annual Gardens in the Dubuque Botanical Gardens are easily spotted. As you approach the Visitor Center, you’ll come upon a vast area of large and smaller beds bursting with color. Without doubt, you have reached the annual beds!

As you make your way along the pathways in this area, you may notice that the majority of these beds follow a theme. Each year a different theme is designed and carried out by members of the Green Team. Garden volunteers and patrons sometimes get into the spirit by suggesting themes for upcoming years. Recent themes:

  • “How Sweet It is!” (2017) was a confectionery of annuals. Cherry pink, lime green, lemon yellow, and luscious lavender were the colors of 2017’s annual bed theme.
  • “Let the Sunshine In” (2016) featured cheerful shades of yellow, orange, and rose brightening the annual flower beds.
  • “Victorian Sentiments: Say It with Flowers” (2015) reflected the popular Victorian custom of communicating special meanings through flowers.
  • “Fiesta in Red, White, & Green (2014) showcased thousands of annual flowers and foliage plants in gala shades of red, white, and green.
  • “Monet Inspiration” (2013) painted the beds in a profusion of pinks and lavenders and whites reminiscent of Monet’s Giverny.
  • “South of the Border” (2012) displayed a palette with bright yellows and oranges and reds.

Geraniums. Don’t miss the long planter near the Visitor Center. The exuberant, reliable plants in this container are geraniums. These special geraniums have been saved over nineteen winters and replanted. Flowering from early summer to mid-fall, they are a favorite of gardeners. 

Coleus. Many of the coleuses in the beds near the geraniums are grown from cuttings each year. They are dubbed “Mary’s coleus” after a volunteer in the Visitor Center who has supplied us with cuttings of special varieties of coleus from her beds. 

Annuals-in-Greenhouse-500x375-WBecause annual plants …

  • grow from seed,
  • flower,
  • produce new seeds, and
  • die during a single growing season

… they are ideal for providing changing color from year to year in gardens.

Greenhouse activities. Dubuque Botanical Garden volunteers can be found in January in the greenhouse — packets of seed in hand! — ready to start the germination process. During the early months of each calendar year, thousands of annuals gradually fill two greenhouses as volunteers upgrade seedlings into pots ready to be planted in mid-May.

The devotion of volunteers and the cycles of nature are abundantly displayed in the Annual Gardens.

[ Description provided by Mary Reuland. ]

Learn more about planting annuals in our video tutorial section.