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Black foliage and spiky blue flowers (which appear in early summer) make a dramatic contrast. 'Black Scallop' thrives in full sun, which intensifies the black color. In full sun, the plant produces numerous runners, which should be thinned to prevent crown rot. In large plantings, you can run a rotary mower with a bagger attachment over the patch to control crowding and keep the foliage fresh. In mixed container plantings, the spilling habit of the plant makes it a standout choice. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
About a third the size of the more well known A. mollis, A. alpina has delicate leaves edged in brilliant silver.
For long-lasting bright yellow flowers that sparkle in midsummer, try Allium moly. It is robust, hardy, and an excellent cut flower, naturalizing and increasing happily in the sun in most garden soils. The cultivar 'Jeannine' flowers earlier and produces larger umbels on sturdier stems.
This plant has thin, strap-like foliage that tends to twist. It produces up to 30 long-lasting, 12- to 40-inch-tall pink or lilac flowers in mid- to late summer.
This is the last of the ornamental onions to flower, when mop-like heads of rose-purple flowers appear with orange anthers. The flowers are impervious to frost or snow. Superior cultivars include ‘Ozawa’, with larger purple flower heads than the species. A white-flowered form known as A. thunbergii ‘Alba’ is a splendid plant, with cup-shaped florets sporting white stamens, yellow anthers, and green centers.
This plant produces a great low-growing mat of flowers. The cheerful starlike blossoms come in pink, blue, and white, and the attractive finely cut leaves disappear soon after flowering.
This is a short-growing aster has creeping rootstocks and pink, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.
This is a dwarf astilbe with attractive red-green leaves and reddish pink flowers in broad, dense conical groups. Its blooms appear mostly in summer.
Upright, open bell-shaped flowers completely cover the foliage of this late-blooming Campanula for several months in summer. This small plant is suitable for the front of the border or a rock garden. Numerous cultivars are available.
This low, mat-forming plant has blue-purple flowers in summer.
Serbian bellflowers have an easy, undemanding habit. Creating a stream of lavender blue, the 1-inch-diameter star-shaped blossoms bloom reliably from late spring to early fall. The foliage remains evergreen in mild winters and needs to be sheared only once in a while to keep its appearance tidy. 'Blue Waterfall' flows beautifully along bed edges and through rock gardens in full sun to partial shade.
Spotted bellflower has heart-shaped foliage on a creeping rhizome with tubular, bell-shaped creamy white to dusky pink flowers with red spots and hairs. This foot-tall bellflower is native to Siberia and Japan.
This sedge's pearly, straplike leaves resemble striped ribbon waiting to be wrapped around a package. It sports fuzzy green flowers with green stamens in late spring. Grow as an edging or groundcover.
This low-growing, spring-blooming succulent touts 5-petaled, pale-pink striped flowers with strap-like foliage that continues to grow after bloom but disappears in late spring when the plants go into dormancy. It can literally carpet the ground in early spring, giving the impression of a light dusting of snow. Its flowers open when the sun is out and close when it is cloudy.
Clematis integrifolia is no longer only blue. This selection produces progeny with pink, white, and lavender blooms from midspring until late summer. The flowers are followed by attractive seed heads in fall. It has a compact, herbaceous form and grows to just 10 to 14 inches tall.
Meadow saffron is a cormous perennial with erect, lance-shaped leaves 5 to 14 inches long. It bears 1 to 6 goblet-shaped, lavender-pink flowers in fall.
This vigorous cormous perennial has semi-erect, lance-shaped leaves 7 to 10 inches long that emerge in spring, then go dormant in late May. In September, it bears 1 to 3 leafless, goblet-shaped, intense pink flowers with yellow anthers and often white throats.
Lily of the valley's bell-shaped, sweetly scented flowers bloom in early spring. It likes partial to full shade and is perfect for a woodland garden. It may not be the best choice for your beds and borders because it tends to spread, but it is a perfect ground cover if you have a large shady spot under some trees.
A spreading subshrub, Cornus canadensis has whorls of leathery mid-green leaves that turn purple in the winter. Green and white, sometimes pink-flushed flowers emerge in late spring and early summer, followed by clusters of scarlet berries.
In spring, this biennial produces small yellow flowers, which are carried tightly over finely divided, sea green leaves. It self-sows freely.
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Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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