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This is an erect, bushy perennial with scented gray-green leaves. Its raspberry-red flowers grow on loose, foot-long spikes from midsummer to late fall. The flower spikes have a long bloom period and attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insects.
The drumstick allium has egg-shaped flowers in summer that start off green, then bloom and develop to pink and then clover red-purple. These plants are attractive in a bed or border, especially peeking up through other plants, such as roses, so that their nondescript foliage is hidden. Their vertical presence and eye-catching flower shape are valuable additions to the garden, and they naturalize freely.
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.
'Casablanca' Peruvian lily is the closest to white that this genus has gotten as of yet. Inside its amaryllis-shaped white flowers, reddish dashes on a yellow wash and a pale pink throat add interest. 'Casablanca' is also taller than most other Alstroemerias. They make great cut flowers and are frequently used by florists; they also add a tropical feel to beds and borders. Roots are very brittle and care should be taken when planting.
This plant produces upright racemes of two-lipped flowers with spreading, rounded lobes in a vast arrray of warm colors. It flowers profusely summer through autumn.
Calibrachoa is a relatively new genus of flowering plants. The first cultivars weren't released until 1992. This cultivar's self-cleaning, petunia-like flowers are painted in a sunny mix of orange, red, and yellow. It is an easy-to-grow, trailing perennial, often used as an annual in hanging baskets, window boxes, and other containers.
This deciduous shrub has a dense, rounded habit, growing 6 to 9 feet tall and as wide. Its unusual, waterlily-like, fragrant flowers combine the scent of strawberries, banana, and pineapple. Flowers appear in May and continuing blooming on and off into June and July. The dark green leaves and bark release a clove or camphor-like scent when crushed.
One look at ‘Texas Scarlet’ flowering quince in bloom and most gardeners are instantly sold. Though the display only lasts a week or two in early spring, the sight of the tomato-red flowers is unforgettable. During the rest of the season, ‘Texas Scarlet’ remains a wave of glossy green leaves that reaches 2 to 3 feet tall in the toughest of conditions.
There would be few cut flowers blooming in October were it not for hardy garden mums. Their clusters of flowerheads show over a long period and are available in many colors, including red, orange, yellow, white, and lavender.
This vigorous climber can easily cover a support of 8 to 10 feet tall once established. Finely textured, dense light-green foliage makes an excellent foil for dainty, pink and carmine teardrop-shaped flowers 2 inches across. Blooms appear in early August and continue well into autumn.
'Route 66' features big, bold, bicolor blooms. A rich ring of burgundy surrounding the flower center bleeds out to the very tips of the yellow petals. Narrow, deep-green foliage forms vigorous, uniform clumps.
Abundant eye-catching, brillliantly red, tubular flowers appear in midsummer atop bold, slightly arching, sparsely branched 3-foot-tall stems. Crocosmia's mid-green leaves are pleated and swordlike.
Totally Tempted™ cuphea has nonstop, bright red summer flowers that don't need deadheading. It doesn't mind summer heat and has a more compact habit than most cultivars in this species, growing to just a foot tall and a little wider.
With its deep purple-black leaves and brilliant summer blooms, 'Bishop of Llandaff' is a fine addition to the sunny bed or border. The 4- to 6-inch-round red-petaled flowers have deep purple and yellow centers, which are set off nicely by the plant's dark foliage. Use this long-stemmed cultivar in cut-flower arrangements. -Gerald Gibbens, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue#120
'Bodacious' lives up to its name, with brilliant color and blooms that are supersized in both height and diameter. Heavy-headed 'Bodacious' requires beefy stakes. The rich color and ruffled effect of the loosely arranged petals make it stunning as a cut flower. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
'Figaro' is a dwarf "landscape" dahlia with semi-double flowers in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, and white. It works well as bedding and in containers, and blooms from planting time until frost.
Of the maybe 10,000 named dahlias introduced in the 1800s—when dahlias ranked right up there with roses in popularity—only three survive. One of them is 'Kaiser Wilhelm', introduced in 1892. Its 3-inch flowers have neatly curled petals of soft custard-yellow brushed with burgundy, and a green button eye just like that of an old rose. The plant can grow to 5 feet.
For a change of pace, 'Zorro' looks fantastic floating stemless in a bowl of water. The ruffled petals accentuate the dark red hue. Staking is a must to prevent the stems from flopping beneath the weight of its huge and heavy blooms. Pinch back the young shoots to promote branching and sturdier stalks. 'Zorro' consistently produces quality tubers for division and, as such, is the perfect cultivar to start (or sustain) a dahlia collection. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
This winter daphne has yellow-margined leaves and rosy-pink flower buds that open to white. Fragrant flowers bloom in winter and early spring. Reaching 4 feet tall and wide, 'Marginata' is beautiful against a wall or near a patio or deck where its fragrance can be appreciated. Or grow in a shade garden where its variegated leaves really shine. Daphne odora is evergreen and has a rounded form. It is native to China and Japan.
Especially fragrant and variable in color, modern border pinks form mats of grayish green leaves and fringed, saucer-shaped flowers.
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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