Snapdragons Galore

Learn about the joys and beauty of growing this wonderful old fashioned classic flower

Gardeners ready to share ‘secrets’ October 30, 2008

   Gardeners ready to share ‘secrets’


Annapolis is a town for walkers. It’s also a place where backyards are filled with flower-bordered patios, sparkling fish ponds and conversational settings underneath century old trees.

For four hours tomorrow, walkers who happen to be garden lovers will  have    a chance to visit 14 different garden sites, most of then hidden from sidewalk view, during the city’s eighth annual Secret Garden Tour. This event will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. with all of the gardens within walking distance of the Annapolis City Hall on Duke of Gloucester Street, in the center of the city’s Historic District.

Peggy Waggoner, who has lived for more than 20 years on Green Street, has had plenty of seasons to watch how the sun and the shade hit her small rear yard.

“I would stand at my kitchen window and study the sunlight across the garden,” she said.

From these observations, she was able to arrange plants that like sun and those that prefer shade in locations favorable for all.

Each year, she picks a special flowering annual plant for color. This year her flower of choice is the snapdragon. Last year it was zinnias.

Her colorful snapdragons are planted in the few sunny spots around her small fish pond, just outside the rear door bordering a patio.

A second larger patio is at the end of the garden, bordered by the yard of the Ridout house, a historic house that fronts on Duke of Gloucester Street.

“When I moved in there were two patios and some grass in between,” said Mrs. Waggoner.

She quickly decided to get rid of the grass and did so by adding the pond and a winding brick walkway connecting the two patio areas.

“I sponsor midshipmen and they helped put in the pond and the walks,” she said.

Roses like the dampness of her garden and bloom on the fence that manages to get some sunlight.

Mrs. Waggoner originally planted roses for everyone in her family of five children. But as her grandchildren count, now 15, continued to grow, she decided instead to dedicate a rose bush to each family unit.

Across Green Street from the Waggoner home is a larger garden behind the home of Barbara and John Dugan.

For 10 years the Dugans operated their home as a bed and breakfast known as The Doll House. Now retired from running that business, Mrs. Dugan has more time for gardening.

Her yard is heavily shaded with century old trees, including a deodar cedar which has been designated by horticulturists as a “specimen tree.”

More commonly found in warmer climates, the cedar has long thin needles on sweeping branches that form a lacy canopy above several white-painted wrought iron tables and chairs set for easy conversation or a cool spot for a afternoon cup of tea.

The Dugan’s yard is grass free with the ground covered by small reddish stones.

An extensive back porch and deck area attached to the rear of the house adds to the enjoyment of the outdoors during the warmer weather.

The Dugans are limited with flowers because of the heavy shade but have found that impatiens and hydrangea bring a bit of color to the large expanse of greenery.

For additional interest, they installed a three-tiered fountain at one corner of the yard.

“It’s been a trial and error experience, trying to find out what would grow in the heavy shade,” said Mrs. Dugan. “We also found that nothing grows by the book.”

Tomorrow’s tour also includes the mother-daughter gardens of Carol Safir and Jennifer Christensen who live next door to each other on Charles Street and share backyards and gardens.

When Carol and Harold Safir bought their 1770-era home, it came with a garden of tangled old indigenous bushes, trees and plants.

The Safirs have cleared out the undergrowth and trimmed the trees while retaining the integrity of the old plantings.

With an abundance of sunlight at some areas, the gardens can accommodate roses and flowering annuals.

For added interest. the Safirs have placed curved garden benches, a bird bath, sculptured pieces and a three-tiered fountain.

They have also added the popular Knock Out roses which have become the most talked about flower this summer.

The back yard of the home of Jennifer and Tor Christensen has play areas for the couple’s two young children. There is also a garden house at the rear of the yard which is part of a two-car garage. The house has been refinished to accommodate a study and small kitchen and can function as an adult get-away spot.

Most of the city gardens make use of hanging plants and since they are usually fenced, there is space along the fence wall for placing more plants. This mobility of placing plants at different places not only can change the look of gardens throughout the summer months, it may also add to the health of the plant.


Growing Snapdragons

Filed under: annuals,perennials,snapdragons — patoconnor @ 3:25 pm
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      Growing Snapdragons    

One of nature’s most stunning examples of color and beauty is the snapdragon.

Rows of perfectly formed, beautifully painted flowers adorn many stems. These well-favored annuals come in a wide assortment of colors and varieties. The website “Annuals A-Z: Choosing and Growing Antirrhinums”, written and published by Graham Rice in 1999, says most annuals are not available in as many colors as the snapdragon. Various shades of white, scarlet, yellow, purple, pink, and peach are available. Two-toned snapdragons are particularly showy.

This softly scented flower comes in various sizes as well, ranging from dwarf varieties to varieties that can reach a height of four feet, according to the same article. Taller varieties make beautiful backdrops for shorter plants, and shorter to medium height varieties make nice borders. “Annuals A-Z: Choosing and Growing Antirrhinums” recommends “Lampion” for hanging baskets, which is a lovely cascading variety. Recommended for window boxes is a dwarf variety called “Kim”. It boosts dazzling orange and yellow flowers. “Burpee: Complete Gardener” published in 1995 by Macmillan, suggests planting low-growing varieties as ground cover. One such variety is “Floral Carpet Hybrid”. It also makes a nice flower for a border or window box.


Snapdragons produce more blooms when temperatures are cool, according to “Burpee: Complete Gardener”. Snapdragons are often sold in garden centers and greenhouses, and they can be purchased as fully developed plants. If starting snapdragons from seed, they should be planted indoors approximately two to three months before spring planting.

The same book says snapdragons require light to begin sprouting, so the seeds should be sprinkled on top of the soil in peat pots, trays, or containers. Covering the peat pots, trays, or containers with clear plastic will help retain valuable moisture during germination adds “Burpee: Complete Gardener”. Also, pinching off the tops of snapdragons that are about four inches tall will encourage the plant to branch out. Before you transfer your snapdragons to the outdoors, check the plant hardiness zone for your particular location. The same article says light frost will not adversely affect snapdragons, but heavy frost can be damaging. In addition, they should slowly be introduced to the outdoors before transplanting. Setting them outside for a few hours each day will strengthen and prepare them for outdoor conditions.

“Burpee: Complete Gardener” recommends planting snapdragons while temperatures are still cool in spring or early in the summer. They will do best in a sunny location with soil that drains well. The same book says the first blooms on snapdragons are usually the largest, but a greater quantity of flowers will bloom after the first ones are finished. It goes on to say that flowering will slow down during hot weather and will resume again when the temperature drops. Also, dead flower stalks should be removed to promote new growth. “Burpee: Complete Gardener” recommends supporting taller varieties with stakes.

Snapdragons are a spectacular addition to any flower bed or garden. They are easy to grow, are very versatile, and you will appreciate the touch of color and beauty they add to your property.