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A large ornamental okra with dinner-plate-sized, sulfur yellow flowers with dark eyes. Each flower lasts only a day—unfolding slowly in the morning and closing gradually in the evening—but the abundance of flowers open on any one day conceals their short life span.
Foot-long blossoms are nocturnally fragrant, and pour out from narrow calyces of light yellow, to terminate in fluted, reflexed openings the hues of golden summer squash.
Few plants evoke tropicalia quite like the Brugmansias, with their voluminous tubular flowers that drip from imposing shrubs or small trees. They look fantastic in containers or plunged into a border, and the dramatic display persists from late spring until autumn. In cooler climates, they may be brought under glass or cut back and held dormant in a cool basement. All parts are highly toxic if ingested.
Foot-long, rich pink blossoms are nocturnally fragrant and pour out from narrow calyces to terminate in wide, flared openings.
Each of this plant's stunning lance-shaped leaves is the softest gray-green, edged subtly with a cream-colored pinstripe. These luminous 5-foot-tall plants are crowned with spires of delicate pink flowers with just a blush of salmon.
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.
A deciduous climber native to the southeastern United States, Clematis crispa bears lavender-blue, bell-shaped flowers with curly edges in summer. Its blooms are not profuse, but their elegant shape makes this plant a good choice for trellises, growing through shrubs, or planting in damp areas. The flowers are slightly fragrant and are followed by attractive seedheads. It also makes an unusual cut flower.
A large, showy, marginal aquatic plant with heart-shaped, dark green leaves, taro can reach 5 feet tall and is often grown as a summer annual. Use it in a container or near water.
Rising to about 36 inches, the elephant ear's deep-purple stalks suspend luxurious leaves of the same color. When the leaves’ undersides are dusted with chalky-looking bloom, they have an intriguing, almost gray look. This plant does well in a bog or even in the margins of a water garden, as well as in average garden soil.
The heart-shaped leaves of 'Illustris' are huge, and their dark highlights are stunning. This elephant ear is a lover of moist shade, but does best with a little dappled sunlight. It will tolerate boggy conditions. -Julia Jones, Fine Gardening issue #120
This vigorous deciduous shrub provides a long season of interest in the garden with its variegated leaves, attractive berries, pretty fall color, and red winter stems.
This cultivar of the eastern North American native Joe Pye weed is shorter and bushier than the species. From late summer into fall, its domes of dusky pink flowers attract butterflies and other insects. The seedheads persist well into winter. Grow 'Gateway' in a border, meadow, or cottage garden. It does best in soil that does not dry out.
Cardinal flower has reddish purple stems and lance-shaped, often glossy, bright green leaves tinged with bronze. Bold red spikes of tubular two-lipped flowers with reddish purple bracts appear in summer and early autumn.
This three-foot-tall evergreen shrub bears many tubular, blue or purple, petunia-like flowers on dark stems over a long period. Each flower lasts for just one day. It is a fast grower that may self-seed aggressively. Use in a border, container, or at waterside. Can be grown as an annual in cooler areas.
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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