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A classic plant for both herb gardens and borders, anise hyssop is composed of erect branches of mint-and-licorice-scented, medium green leaves ending in fuzzy spikes of small lavender flowers. The plant grows to 3 to 5 feet tall and 1 foot wide and reseeds freely. The flowers are edible and are charming crumbled into salads. The flowers are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
This showstopper produces conspicuous, red-purple leaf sheaths with dense, purple domed flowerheads.
Boltonias are vigorous perennials grown for their sprays of aster-like flowers, which appear above clean, gray-green foliage. Their vigorous nature makes them suitable for naturalizing. They are also great in the border (and for cutting), but will benefit from frequent dividing to keep in bounds, and may be cut back in late spring for more compact plants.
This native meadow perennial has daisy-like blossoms in early summer. It bears copper-orange central cones surrounded by short, arching, ray petals in pink or purple-pink, and occasionally white.
Because of its carefree performance, this native meadow perennial with daisy-like flowers appropriately inhabits the gardens of many. It blooms from midsummer into early autumn, with prominent, copper-orange central cones surrounded by rose-purple, ray petals (to 5 inches across).
This 3- to 4-foot-tall glad has luminous deep purplish-rose flowers. It dates from 1959 and is called 'Fidelio' after Beethoven's joyous opera.
Perfectly round, puckered, bright-gold leaves have a pattern resembling seersucker fabric. Pale-lavender flowers appear in early summer.
A botanical giant, 'Sum and Substance' averages 30 inches tall by 60 inches wide, sometimes more. Upright, heart-shaped, flat leaves have a glossy chartreuse hue that changes to gold when exposed to more light. Near-white lilac blooms borne on leaning scapes 36 inches long appear from late July through mid-August.
This beardless iris is one of the tallest growing. It is available in a wide range of flower colors and blooms from late spring to mid-summer. These irises are tall like Japanese irises but have upright flowers and bloom later than the tall bearded ones.
Lavender-pink or white flowers up to 4 inches in diameter have purple veins and yellow throats. Sword-shaped medium green leaves can top 6 feet tall when grown in shallow water.
This tuberous perennial has dense clusters of linear, rough leaves borne in basal tufts to 16 inches long. Dense spikes, up to 18 inches long, of button-like lavender-purple flowerheads are borne in late summer and early autumn. Blooms open from the top of the inflorescences downward.
The showy purple spikes of purple loosestrife are attractive in the garden and along roadsides, but the plant's rampant spread has greatly reduced the ecological value of marshes by displacing native wetland vegetation such as cattails (Typha spp.) that wildlife uses as food or shelter. One mature plant can produce over 2 million seeds a year that are easily transported by the wind or water into wetlands. The seeds easily germinate, and no natural predator holds this plant in check. Even cultivars reported to be sterile can produce highly fertile seed if grown with other cultivars or wild loosestrife.
The flowers of vesper iris open in the late afternoon over a period of several minutes, just about the time the sound of evening vespers might have wafted over an old monastery garden. It is a valuable addition to the garden also because of its late blooming season (high summer into early fall) and for its ability to bloom from seed started the same spring. The vesper iris has typical iris-looking leaf fans and abundantly branched, willowy bloom stalks rising to 4 feet. The inch-wide flowers range in color from pure white to violet.
'Indigo Spires' sage is a vigorous hybrid prized for its 12- to 15-inch-long, twisting spikes of dark violet flowers. It is a non-stop bloomer from early summer through fall. Blooming can be further encouraged by pinching stem tips early in the growing season and deadheading the spikes once they fade. 'Indigo Spires' quickly grows to 4 feet high, and can be grown as an annual where not hardy.
This downy, bushy, evergreen subshrub produces white or purple flowers clasped by soft purple calyces from late summer to frost. It grows 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide, and is great for the border. Salvias are some of the showiest plants for containers, annual borders, and mixed borders. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them.
This unusual tender perennial displays an electric color combination when its vibrant purple-blue flowers open from bright chartreuse calyces. Fortunately, glossy, bright green leaves hold their own until the show gets started in August (and continues until frost). It forms a tall bush, 6 feet tall by 6 feet wide, which is great for the back of the border. Salvias are some of the showiest plants for containers, annual borders, and mixed borders. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them.
This beautiful specimen has tall, delicate stems punctuated by clusters of columbine-like, bluish gray leaves. In summer, it bears sprays of nodding lavender-pink or white flowers with pale yellow stamens that reach as high as 3 feet. Plants grow to 12 inches wide. Plant at the back of a border; it may require staking.
This outstanding annual or perennial deserves its popularity. It makes an architectural statement with slender, willowy stems that stand up to 6 feet tall and do not need staking. It then branches out widely near the top where rich lilac-purple flower clusters stand alone, as if they are floating. This Verbena makes a great see-through plant.
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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