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A large shrub or small tree, Albizia julibrissin is native to Iran to Japan. It is a fast-growing plant whose seedlings can become invasive. It can be seen growing in the wild in the southeastern U.S. and California in waste places, fields, and along roads.
However, its bipinnate, ferny leaves and fluffy pink flowerheads that cover the tree in summer make it a garden-worthy plant, as do the fragrance emitted by the flowers, which attract bees. Seed pods that resemble flat beans follow the flowers and persist into winter. Still, care should be used so that seeds from garden plants can't escape into the wild.
This bulbous perennial produces ribbed stems and strap-shaped, gray-green basal leaves that decline as its flowers form. In early summer, it bears umbels that are 10 to 12 inches in diameter, and contain up to 100 star-shaped fuchsia flowers with a metallic sheen.
In summer, this plant bears large rounded flower heads up to 4 inches across with a multitude of star-shaped lilac-pink flowers.
This plant bears 12- to 18-inch blooms with nearly 100 pink-rose flowers. When the flowers are spent, they are replaced by airy, fluffy seedpods.
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 plant's silver-blue leaves swirl like a cowlick. It produces flowers that are lollipop-shaped, pink with bright yellow accents and about 16 inches tall.
A half-hardy perennial, this sophisticated climber grows to 8 feet tall. It has a profuse show of 1.5-inch indigo, violet, pink, or white flowers. It's great for the cold greenhouse or conservatory, and will often bloom until the end of the year unless there is a hard frost.
In early spring, 'Forest Pansy' awakens with a long-lasting profusion of bright purplish-pink blooms borne in clusters, before the leaves, along smooth gray branches. Its heart-shaped, blood-red leaves are finely veined and glossy when young, slowly turning a dark, purple-tinged green in full sun. Autumn foliage is a bouquet of reds, purples, oranges, and yellows. The plant's graceful branching structure stands out in winter.
Bright purplish-pink blooms are borne in clusters, before the leaves, along smooth gray branches. Heart-shaped leaves emerge bronze, turning green, then yellow in autumn. Cultivars are available with white ('Royal White') or pink flowers ('Tennessee Pink'), purple foliage ('Forest Pansy'), and weeping form ('Covey'). Grows 15 to 25 feet tall with a slightly wider spread.
This impressive tree, also known as 'Covey', takes the beautiful deep pink spring blossoms and attractive deciduous foliage of our native redbud and displays them on its weeping form. Lavender Twist® reaches 6 to 8 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide and makes a great specimen plant near walkways, foundation plantings, or patios.
Desert willow is shrub native to the Southwest U.S. and Mexico. Its erect willowy foliage is joined by large, blowsy pink flowers from early summer to first frost. This tough plants performs well in xeriscapes and other dry, unforgiving locations. It grows to 10 to 14 feet tall and wide remains blemish-free all season long.
Pink Champagne™ (‘Kakio’) is one of the earliest large-flowered clematis to bloom. As the name implies, this variety boasts bubbly, bright pink tepals with pale centers and bright yellow stamens. Pink Champagne™ is a strong climber with a fairly narrow expanse, meaning it works well in tight spaces. I grow this variety alongside my garden gate in a cramped space that is less than a foot wide. The stems shoot straight up, making a beautiful pink exclamation point. -Richard Hawke, Big blooming clematis, Fine Gardening issue #146
'Princess Diana' is a steady bloomer from midsummer into early fall. Its compact habit makes it a good choice for large containers, but it will be just as happy in your perennial border.
Information provided by Brushwood Nursery
'Nellie Moser' is easy to grow, producing large, flat flowers 6 to 8 inches in diameter with distinctive, gleaming lilac bars on each petal. This clematis blooms from May to late June, with a second, less profuse bloom in mid-August. Planted in a shady spot, the cheery pink-and-mauve-striped blossoms last for weeks instead of days.
Alpine clematis is one of the earliest clematises to bloom, in early May. It bears relatively small but delightful nodding, bell-shaped flowers, 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, in a great variety of colors.
Downy clematis is a hardy, deciduous early bloomer that can flourish in Zone 4. The species will climb to 10 feet with a little support, and it has bell-shaped, purple-blue, almost columbine-like flowers about 1 to 2 inches, sometimes up to 4 inches in diameter, that mature to fluffy, pinkish seed heads. Blooms appear in spring and early summer, sometimes followed by a second flush in late summer to early autumn
Piilu™ (‘Kivso’), which translates as “little duckling,” has pretty bicolored flowers with pale purplish pink margins and deep pink central bars. I’m particularly impressed by its prodigious flower production—it’s one of the most floriferous clematis I’ve ever grown. The open-faced flowers, 3 to 4 inches wide, are produced from early to late summer and are nicely distributed over the entire plant. The early flowers are supposedly semi-double, but I’ve only seen single flowers on our plants. This is a strong climber, reaching 6 feet tall with a narrow but full habit. For pruning purposes, Piilu™ blooms on old wood, so it can be lumped into group 1 or 2. This also means that it will flower earlier if there is no winter injury to the stems. -Richard Hawke, Big blooming clematis, Fine Gardening #146, page 51
'Alba Luxurians' is a very tough, late-flowering climber with small flowers that open from midsummer to late autumn. White blossoms are sometimes faintly tinged with mauve when young, and are open, bell-shaped, single, and 2 to 3 inches across. Foliage is slightly gray-green.
This native flowering tree is best known for its early spring blossoms, which are actually yellowish green flowers clustered in the center of four showy, white to pink bracts 1-1/2 to 2 inches long. Clusters of four bright red fruits mature in early fall, often persisting into the beginning of winter.
This cross of the European smoke bush (C. coggygria) and the American smoke tree (C. obovatus) is a gem in the garden thanks to its multiseason interest. Its iridescent spring foliage is green overlaid with red; then its large pink clouds of blooms in summer are followed by brilliant autumn foliage that ranges from red to orange. 'Grace' combines well with just about anything; asters, ornamental grasses, and Japanese maples are good places to start.
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These vibrant bloomers give even the showiest annuals and perennials a run for their money
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Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
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Q&A Moving houseplants outdoors for the summer
by Tim Pollak
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