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Yellow flag is a vigorous Laevigata iris with ribbed, sword-shaped gray-green leaves. It grows to 3 to 4 feet high. Over 60 cultivars exist, including ‘Beuron’, with evenly yellow flowers; ‘Ecru’, with its off-white blooms; ‘Fresh Cream’, with lovely, pale-yellow flowers marked with red-violet signals; a variegated type, ‘Variegata’; ‘Donau’, a bright-yellow flower adorned with a brown signal that looks like stitchery; and nearly sterile ‘Holden Clough’, with deep-yellow blooms and reddish purple veining.
Attractive, grass-like leaves to 18 inches long are topped by showy flowers in a wide range of colors. Flowers unfurl in May and bloom well into June. Cultivars include ‘Caesar’s Brother’, with rich purple flowers; ‘Eric the Red’, a bright violet-pink Siberian; and ‘Chilled Wine’, a garnet iris suffused with blue.
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.
Beautiful variegation brightens the green and grey mottled foliage. A wide creamy-golden margin blends to the edge of the cut-leaf foliage. Its spreading branches mingle softly with its garden neighbors. Blooming in early fall, 12- to 15-inch stems produce light lavender aster-like flowers with a yellow center.
This hardy lavender stands out for its unusually large, dark blue-purple flowers, silvery green foliage, and heavy fragrance. It is often used in perfumes. Growing to 30 inches tall and nearly as wide, 'Grosso' has very long flower spikes and blooms from midsummer into autumn. It is especially attractive as an edging.
'Violet Intrigue' exhibits the typical handsome gray foliage of good lavenders, but its form and flowers are particularly noteworthy. Each stem is strongly upright, and requires no staking, and the blooms are a deep violet that remains vibrant even when temperatures rise. Other than occasional deadheading, no additional maintenance chores are required.
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.
This hardy herbaceous perennial has grass-like, strappy leaves and 3- to 5-foot-tall spikes of purple-pink flowers in late summer and early fall. Native to the eastern and southern United States, this tough perennial prefers reliably moist soil but will tolerate drought. It provides a bold, vertical element to mixed borders and attracts bees and butterflies. It has been observed to be resistant to deer browsing and self-sows freely. The flowers are suitable for cutting.
This cultivar of a U.S. prairie plant offers the garden spikes of purple, fuzzy-looking flowers that open from the top down on plants up to 2 feet tall and 18 inches wide. The show starts in late summer and attracts butterflies and bees. Grow it in a moist meadow or border. The flowers are also beautiful in a vase.
In early spring, fleshy stems unfurl and are topped by rounded burgundy leaves. By June, this plant looks splendid, with upturned leaves and their rich purple undersides. 'Britt Marie Crawford' may wilt in the hot noonday sun, but soft shade soon revives it. At the start of summer, right golden daisy-like flowers bloom, contrasting boldly with the foliage. -Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
Often used by florists, 'Star Gazer' lily has bright crimson flowers with purple spots and dark edges. These lilies grow to about 3 feet tall, so they generally don't need staking.
Sea lavender is a rosette-forming perennial with mid- to dark-green leaves to 12 inches long, occasionally to 24 inches. Deep lavender-blue flowers are borne in panicles made of spikelets on wiry stems.
Showy sprays of pretty purple or white flowers in spring are followed by papery, flat seedpods that look like silver dollars. Flowers may attract butterflies.
This spreading evergreen perennial has clumps of grass-like deep green basal leaves. Tiny, brilliant white flowers borne in tight clusters appear in early summer and midsummer.
This herbaceous perennial forms clumps of gray-green leaves from which arise slender racemes of small white flowers with mauve-colored veins, making for an almost gray appearance. It makes an interesting cut flower, and the plant is not invasive like other loosestrifes.
This stunning herbaceous woodland peony has upright red-mottled stems and dark green leaves that are elliptic or lance-shaped with rough margins. It bears usually solitary, single creamy white to pale pink blossoms that are cup-shaped and elegant. The blooms measure 3 to 4 inches across and have pale yellow stamens. Like all peonies, the flowers are with us for too short a time. They are followed by beautiful seedpods.
This plant is a beautiful addition to the garden from early spring until autumn. Red shoots with a crystalline dusting emerge in early April, followed by 5-inch-long, egg-shaped leaves that mature to a dark, reddish green. Each 18-inch stem bears a 2-inch-wide, chalice-like, single pure-white flower with yellow anthers and purple filaments. Mature seedpods open to reveal metallic-blue pea-sized fertile seeds and holly-berry red unfertilized seeds.
Panicum Ruby Ribbons’ soft blue-green foliage emerges in the spring on upright, clumping plants. The foliage takes on a wine-red color in early summer, which intensifies as the season progresses. Flower heads appear in late summer, followed by ornamental seed heads, which, if left uncut, provide long-lasting winter interest.
The 4- to 6-inch-wide blooms of 'Flamenco Dancer' poppy stand out in late spring and early summer with their true red color and fanciful fringes. It is a sport of the popular 'Turkenlouis'. After the flowers fade, this perennial will go dormant, so plant it near neighbors that will fill the vacancy.
Great Plants for a Fall Cutting Garden
Rely on colorful, long-stemmed plants to keep your vases filled as the season winds down
by Suzanne McIntire
Q&A Crafty everlasting flowers
by Suzanne McIntire
Drying Flowers in Sand
Use this technique to enjoy dried flowers year-round
by Georgia Vance
The Allure of Lavender
Intoxicating scents, wandlike flowers, and gray-green foliage ensure its enduring popularity
by Andy Van Havelingen
The Best Flowers for Your Cutting Garden
If you only grow a handful of vaseworthy flowers, these are the ones you need
by Catherine Mix
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