Name: Emilia javanica aka tassel flower
Type of Plant: This is one of the flowering plants that I refer to as “my party crashers.” For some annuals, if you plant them in your garden once they will show up for the party every year, invited or not. They arrive so colorfully dressed, however, that I let most of them stay and join the fun.
Why I love this: When it comes to party crashing Emilia is one of the shyest of this often-boisterous crowd. The species is orange, and there’s a cultivar called ‘Scarlet Magic’ that is red. Both produce small tassel-shaped flowers that wave on long, thin stems. They are good at mingling at your party, since the base of the plant is small and will fit in and among your other annuals and perennials. I love the tiny dash of hot color these flowers give to the garden. They know what the impressionist painters knew: that even in a field of pastels, a dash of orange or red makes the entire composition come alive!
A Word to the Wise: When dealing with party crashers, the host’s first responsibility is to the invited guests. It’s fine to let some plants self-seed in a garden, but when they are in the wrong spot, or become too numerous, it’s OK to ask them to go. Self-seeded annuals frequently need to be edited: just because a plant has germinated in a garden does not mean it has to be allowed to stay!