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This species has deeply divided, fan-shaped leaves of blue-green to 3 feet across. It bears ivory blossoms on 6-foot-long panicles in summer. It may be shoot-hardy to Zone 6 with a deep layer of mulch.
In late summer, this large, clump-forming species bears huge plumes of delicate pink flower clusters, which eventually fade to silver.
This large, clump-forming grass has linear leaves with central white stripes. In late summer it bears huge, purplish-bronze flower clusters, which eventually fade to silver. It resents high fertility and shows considerable drought tolerance.
'Indigo Spires' sage is a vigorous hybrid prized for its 12- to 15-inch-long, twisting spikes of dark violet flowers. It is a non-stop bloomer from early summer through fall. Blooming can be further encouraged by pinching stem tips early in the growing season and deadheading the spikes once they fade. 'Indigo Spires' quickly grows to 4 feet high, and can be grown as an annual where not hardy.
'Maraschino' bush sage is a superb Salvia that is irresistible to hummingbirds and gardeners alike. Even after dying back to the ground in winter in the cooler zones, this plant comes back in full force each spring, reaching its full height and covering itself with cherry red blooms by midsummer. The flowers bloom nonstop through the first hard frost, and the leaves are sweetly fragrant. Plants do best when given afternoon shade. 'Maraschino' grows to 3 feet tall.
Throughout the summer, 'Mystic Spires Blue' produces long stalks of dark blue flowers, which continue to reward in abundance when deadheaded. Refresh tired plants in midsummer by cutting them back by half. This cultivar makes an excellent bedding or container plant.
This short-lived, tender perennial shrub native to the Canary Islands off the African coast sends up 6-foot white-furred stems cloaked with long, felted, arrow-shaped leaves and topped, summer to frost, with plumes of purplish violet flowers clasped by red-tipped calyxes. It grows up to 4 feet wide.
This choice species boasts narrow, downy sage-green leaves and true sky-blue blossoms from summer to fall. It has woody stems and forms a beautiful specimen 12 inches tall by 18 inches wide.
This upright tender perennial provides rich color for annual bedding schemes where it is not hardy. Its deep red flowers are borne on 2- to 2.5- foot, open spikes from summer to autumn. Plants grow to about a foot wide and bear hairy, oval to heart-shaped leaves. Salvias are some of the showiest plants for containers, annual borders, and mixed borders. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them.
From late spring to fall, this easy-going perennial bears deep orange-red flowers on 3- to 4-foot-tall spikes that rise above a loose, 6-foot-wide mound of heart-shaped, sticky leaves. The native habitat for this brightly colored salvia is a very limited area at an altitude of 9,000 feet in the narrow range of the Mexican Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains.
This tender perennial from Peru is highly unusual for its dramatic, purple-black flowers and pistachio-green calyces. The flowers appear from late summer to early fall. The drama is heighted by its contrasting silvery leaves and stems, which are densely cloaked in woolly, white hairs. Plants grow to about 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide. This specimen looks great tumbling over the edge of a container.
This perennial forms a shrubby upright clump 2 feet tall by 1 foot wide, with white mealy stems and glossy green leaves. It bears deep, lavender-blue flowers on tall spikes from early summer to frost. Salvias are some of the showiest plants for containers, annual borders, and mixed borders. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them.
This compact perennial forms a bush less than 1.5eet tall by 1 foot wide, with indigo stems and glossy green leaves. It bears deep, navy blue flowers on medium spikes from early summer to frost.
This native of Texas and Mexico has a woody base and can form a dwarf, evergreen shrub, 1 foot tall by 1 foot wide. It has small, leathery leaves and bears bright flowers in shades of pink, purple, or yellow from early summer to frost.
This perennial produces long spires of large, deep blue flowers from mid-summer to frost. It forms a tall bush 6 feet tall by 2 feet wide that is great for the back of the border. It is drought tolerant because of its unusual, moisture-conserving rhizomes.
This downy, bushy, evergreen subshrub produces white or purple flowers clasped by soft purple calyces from late summer to frost. It grows 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide, and is great for the border. Salvias are some of the showiest plants for containers, annual borders, and mixed borders. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them.
This unusual tender perennial displays an electric color combination when its vibrant purple-blue flowers open from bright chartreuse calyces. Fortunately, glossy, bright green leaves hold their own until the show gets started in August (and continues until frost). It forms a tall bush, 6 feet tall by 6 feet wide, which is great for the back of the border. Salvias are some of the showiest plants for containers, annual borders, and mixed borders. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them.
This native of the American Southwest and Mexico forms an evergreen shrub or shrubby perennial with dark, glossy leaves that are small (but slightly larger than most microphyllas) and softly toothed. It blooms off and on all summer, and again, more vigorously, in late summer and autumn, in blossoms of cherry-red. Its attractive foliage cloaks the plant to the ground, so it is well suited to the front of the border. It can grow to 4 feet tall and twice as wide.
This moisture-loving perennial produces clear blue flowers with white highlights in late summer to mid-autumn. It forms an airy clump to 6 feet tall by 3 feet wide, and is great for the back of a border. It is tolerant of heavy soils.
This plant is as dependable and adaptable as they come. Its flowers bloom from August into November; they open pink and mature to a copper befitting of autumn. It is 2 feet tall and wide, with succulent stems and leaves. 'Autumn Joy' looks great with ornamental grasses.
Hens & chicks are always a welcome sight, and this exciting 'Black' variety is a newer take on the old favorite.
This spring bloomer produces bright chartreuse floral domes atop bract-like, rounded leaves that are pierced by the flower's stem. This plant's form and color contrast well with spring bulbs. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Let it regenerate itself by self-sowing. It is a biennial or short-lived perennial that makes an excellent cut flower and produces worthy combinations with neighboring shades of maroons and blues. Grow it in large, mixed borders, naturalistic plantings, and open woodlands.
This flowering evergreen tree has pinnate leaves 4 to 6 inches long. Notched, mid-green leaflets grow in pairs. Pea-like, fragrant blue-violet flowers in terminal racemes appear in spring, maturing to bright red seeds.
This shrubby, woolly perennial is native to the warmest, dry regions of the US and Mexico. Its large, rose-like salmon-colored flowers appear in loose clusters from spring to frost. It grows to 3 feet tall and almost as wide, and can bloom nearly year-round in warm regions.
This pest-free perennial blooms best during warm months. It is strange how these small blue flowers attract butterflies more than large-blooming, showy neighbors. Blue porter weed gradually reseeds nearby for a fresh batch of new plants. Mix with other species of Stachytarpheta for a variety of leaf shapes and colors ranging from purple to coral.
This evergreen species makes a handsome specimen with narrow, arching foliage that is streaked orange in summer and becomes orange-brown in winter. Its fine, pendent flower inflorescences open purplish-green in midsummer and have a misty quality.
No other grass exhibits quite the refinement of texture as this species. Its bright green foliage resembles delicate filaments that arise in elegant, vase-like clumps and spill outward like a soft fountain. All summer it bears a profusion of feathery panicles, which mature from foamy-green to blonde. It is native to the Americas.
This tuberous-rooted tender perennial is related to portulaca, but has fleshy green leaves and delicate, wiry flower stalks. Stalks have a fine, see-through texture. Minute hot pink flowers are followed by carmine-colored seed pods that are showier than the flowers. The variety 'Kingwood Gold' has chartreuse foliage. Plants can grow to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
Large—to 20 inches across—almost rounded, lobed leaves colored a downy gray-tinged green contrast beautifully with almost any companion plant. This thicket-forming, sparsely branched, evergreen shrub, which behaves like an herbaceous perennial in Zones 6 and 7, produces thick, leafy shoots topped by white flowers borne on branching stems to 20 inches long in fall.
This tender perennial climber is evergreen in Zones 10 and warmer. Cheerful, 1.5-inch flowers in shades of orange and yellow cover this fast-growing vine. The blossoms have a simple form: 5 petals surrounding a brownish purple center. Where grown as an annual, plants can reach 8 feet; when grown as a perennial, 20 feet.
This compact plant produces abundant blue, tubular, two-lipped flowers from planting time until frost. It is excellent in containers and as bedding.
Golden Moon™ brightens up gardens with unique, saturated gold-and-maroon blooms. This vigorous, low-growing introduction is loaded with flowers all season long. It is beautiful in a container.
This species bears dome-shaped flower heads several inches across that are crowded with tiny, tubular amethyst or white flowers that look somewhat like the blooms of an allium. It has lance-shaped, toothed leaves in hues of cordovan purple or deep green brushed with plum highlights. It blooms over a long season. Though it is a perennial, blue throatwort performs wonderfully as an annual and blooms summer to fall. Plants grow to about 3 feet tall and wide.
One of the hardiest palms, Chinese windmill palm has single stems with large, 4-foot-wide fans of sword-like leaves. It produces large plumes of yellow flowers in early summer; the flowers of female plants transform into bluish-black fruits. Chinese windmill palms may be shoot-hardy to Zone 6 if protected with 10 inches of mulch. With their rich fans and handsome habits, they make attractive specimens for formal outdoor spaces. These evergreen palms are native to the mountains and temperate regions of subtropical Asia. Plants can grow to 20 feet tall and 8 feet wide.
In early summer, slender stems are topped with flowers that produce a crop of jointed seeds. Clumps get large and die out in the center, so division is necessary. Autumn frosts turn the leaves attractive shades of red-bronze. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
This annual or perennial climber grows vigorously, yet does not strangle its host. Its edible leaves are deeply divided like the fingers of a hand, and its bright yellow flowers are outrageously formed: The larger, upper petals are deeply fringed and look like tiny birds' wings; the smaller, lower petals are spurred. It blooms in summer and autumn and can climb up to 12 feet.
This tender perennial climber has edible, hand-shaped leaves and crimson red flowers in summer and fall which are uniquely textured. Their softly squared petals are held apart from each other at the flower's mouth and the rear tapers to long spurs. The blooms yield blue fruits. Flame nasturtium climbs up to 10 feet.
Pink agapanthus is a fast-growing, clumping perennial with narrow, garlic-scented leaves and large umbels of fragrant lilac flowers in summer and early fall. It grows to 2 feet tall. Leaves can be used in soups and salads.
Heirloom dahlias, gladioli, and cannas offer flower colors and forms unmatched by more recent introductions
by Scott Kunst
Annuals Pep Up Perennial Borders
Use the flowers and foliage of annuals to spark summer’s show
by Elisabeth Sheldon
Experts Pick Their Favorite Plants
We asked 42 gardening experts from around the country to select their favorite plants. Now you can see the complete results of the survey.
Alliums All Season Long
Deer resistant and dynamic, these bulbs provide color from the first showers of spring to the last leaves of fall
by Stephanie Cohen
Sweetly Scented Annuals
Pique your senses all season long with colorful, long-blooming beauties
by Danielle Ferguson
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