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These short-lived perennials or biennials are charming plants, and are worth their weight in gold in the cottage border. After flowering, the attractive foliage holds the space well.
This mat-forming species with dark green leaves is one of the easiest to grow. Blossoms range from white to red and are usually single and without fragrance. Use as bedding or in rock gardens.
This mat-forming species with narrow, dark green leaves is one of the easiest to grow. Blossoms with red eyes open in early summer and may rebloom if sheared back after flowering.
This foxglove has long-lasting flowers in seductive shades of burnt umber. Its glossy, linear leaves are evergreen in mild climates, but turn brown in colder climates.
This is a biennial or short-lived perennial, which may last longer and rebloom if deadheaded. It sports dramatic blossoms in contrasting colors in spires reaching six feet high in rich soil, but more likely to 3 or 4 feet.
Bright lime green foliage and perky rose-colored flowers in spring make this plant a great selection. It turns a nice orange in autumn.
'Crimson Curls' heuchera is fairly pest free, but it requires constant moisture to look its best. White flowers contrast with ruby-colored foliage that deepens in direct sun. 'Crimson Curls' flowers in late spring, and if deadheaded, will flower again by late summer. It needs too much water to grow well in containers. Instead, use it massed along a walkway or in a woodland bed. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
Clump-forming perennial features a mound of maple, or ivy-like, long-petioled leaves (3-5" wide) which are an attractive deep purple above and beet red beneath. Foliage color may fade to a bronze green in hot summers. Tiny, pinkish white, bell-shaped flowers in open, airy panicles are borne on slender, wiry, dark red stems extending well above the mound of leaves typically to a height of 15-24" in late spring to early summer. Attracts hummingbirds to the garden! They look especially good used around the edge of a border. -Santa Rosa Gardens
Large, fuzzy, gray-green leaves distinguish 'Autumn Bride' from other cultivars of Heuchera villosa. Attractive white flowers bloom in midsummer. This heuchera tolerates full sun but prefers partial shade, especially in the afternoon. -Jane Hutson, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127
This vigorous perennial bears elegant clusters of pure white flowers marked with purple or pale violet from early to late summer. Semi-evergreen basal rosettes and deciduous or semi-evergreen stems are also often marked reddish purple.
'Bright Eyes' produces fragrant, salmon-pink flower clusters with a darker ruby eye on large 7-inch flower heads.Information provided by Santa Rosa Gardens.
This garden phlox has striking, bicolor lavender-and-pink flowers beginning in early summer and displays a pleasing compact form. Its slightly waxy leaves hold powdery mildew at bay, and the plant doesn't even flinch in heat, humidity, or drought. 'John Fanick' grows to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
Obedient plant is a clump-forming native perennial that grows aggressively. From midsummer to early fall, spikes of purple or pink (and sometimes white) flowers rise above sharply toothed leaves to four feet high.
This prolific cultivar has dark green foliage and bears nodding blue flowers from mauve buds. It grows to a compact height of 18 inches tall. It may become invasive and difficult to eradicate once established.
From the Fairytail series of dwarf lilacs, this petite cultivar bears single, light pink flowers in mid- to late season. It has a rounded, compact habit, 6 feet high by 5 feet wide. It shows good resistance to powdery mildew.
This fragrant hybrid (S. persica × S. vulgaris) has slightly nodding, 6-inch-long clusters of lilac-purple flowers. It forms a spreading shrub, 15 feet tall and wide.
This fragrant hybrid (S. persica × S. vulgaris) produces slightly nodding light-purple flower clusters to 6 inches long in midseason. It forms a spreading shrub, 12 feet tall and wide, and shows good disease resistance.
This early flowering hybrid produces fragrant, single white flowers. It forms a shrub 8 feet high by 10 feet wide, and exhibits autumn coloring. This hybrid and its offspring show some disease resistance.
This graceful hybrid produces fragrant, pale lilac flower clusters up to 4 inches long in late spring. The difference this lilac offers is its airy, finely textured foliage. It forms a spreading shrub 6 feet to 8 feet tall and wide.
This hardy, late-flowering hybrid bears perfumed rose-pink buds opening to pink flowers. It forms a shrub 10 feet high by 8 feet wide.
Q&A Ground covers to avoid
by Nancy Ondra
Planting Ground Covers
Proper spacing and regular care are the best ways to create a lush, weed-free carpet
by Mary Hirshfeld
Flowering Ground Covers
To blanket an area small or large, these are the perennials to pick
by Nancy Ondra
Great Plants for a Fall Cutting Garden
Rely on colorful, long-stemmed plants to keep your vases filled as the season winds down
by Suzanne McIntire
Dividing a ground cover
by Liana Mackey
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