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Growing to 6 or 7 feet, 'Sémaphore' features slender, dark-bronze leaves topped by spikes of narrow-petaled flowers of an unusual glowing color that's not quite yellow and not quite orange; perhaps flickering tongues of flame would be the best description. It is a Victorian classic from 1895.
This vigorous 5- to 6-foot plant sports fascinating foliage colors. Spring leaves emerge an intense purple and are soon striped with green, yellow, pink, and red. Vivid orange flowers appear in summer on this quick multiplier.
Tropicanna Gold is perhaps the showiest of all of the variegated cannas and one of the best for hot, humid, sunny southern gardens. Favored for its bright green and yellow variegated foliage and deep tangerine flowers, Tropicanna Gold will grow at the edge of ponds in shallow water as well as in normal garden conditions. It is adaptable to heat and humidity. Protect in the northern part of its range, or lift tubers in fall where not hardy and store over winter.
'Bed Head' is a tall plant with 4-inch-wide salmon-colored blooms with an unusually tangled appearance. It flowers less abundantly than many other dahlias, but is striking nonetheless. 'Bed Head' is a lush grower that benefits from strong staking. Plant it at the back of the border, and show it off as a cut flower in a vase. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
'David Howard' is large and vigorous dahlia with fine color. Apricot blooms contrasts nicely with the dark foliage and with dark-colored companion plants. It pairs well both with hot colors such as red and orange and cool blues and purples. A tall grower, it requires staking and looks best in the middle or back of a border. Perhaps best of all, it blooms continually without deadheading. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
If you like the combination of peach and pink, you'll love 'Myrtle's Folly', whose narrow, twisted petals of deep pink and light orange mature to reveal a yellow center. Perhaps too ungainly to use as a border plant, 'Myrtle's Folly' will provide a reliable supply of flowers that look perfect in a vase. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
A charming choice, 'Pooh' has orange-red petals with gold and lemon-colored petal-like sepals. Plant this dahlia toward the back in a border, where its small flowers on tall stalks will be sure to stand out. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
A tropical tree by design, the Mexican fire bush freezes to the ground in winter in Zones 8-11, but grows up to 5 feet tall by summer's end. The erect, branched, woody stems bear simple copper-toned leaves with small orange flowers bunched along the tips. It loves the heat, and the more you can give it, the more vigorous it will be.
An oversize tender perennial, blood banana has large, fleshy, rubberlike leaves with dark markings. The foliage is green with random reddish purple blotches. On mature plants, orange or red flowers develop into inedible orange fruits. -Julia Jones, Designing with annuals, Fine Gardening issue #120
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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