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Acanthus mollis is prized for its bold clumps of shiny green leaves topped with striking, 3-foot-tall spires of white flowers which are clasped by showy purple bracts. This is a great plant for an eye-catching structural element in a part-shade border.
'Blue Fortune' produces spikes of powder-blue flowers held over large, deep green foliage. The plant stands approximately 36 inches tall with a mature width of 18 inches. Peak bloom occurs in midsummer when butterflies are plentiful.
A cultivar discovered at High Country Gardens in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this aromatic, water-wise perennial grows to 30 inches tall and 18 inches wide and features fine, mint-scented, gray-green leaves and spikes of tubular flowers in shades of soft pink and peach from summer to early fall. The plant is hugely attractive to hummingbirds, hence its common name. It is resistant to heat and drought, and can be used in both mixed borders and containers.
A cultivar discovered at High Country Gardens in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this aromatic, water-wise perennial grows to 30 inches tall and 18 inches wide and features fine, mint-scented, gray-green leaves and spikes of tubular flowers in shade of orange from mid-summer to fall. The plant is hugely attractive to hummingbirds, hence the common name.
True to its name, sunset hyssop encapsulates a Western sunset in its flowers: bronze with hints of orange and yellow, and streaks of magenta and pink along the margins. More and more flowers emerge as summer progresses. The plant blooms heavily in August, and continues into autumn.
Black foliage and spiky blue flowers (which appear in early summer) make a dramatic contrast. 'Black Scallop' thrives in full sun, which intensifies the black color. In full sun, the plant produces numerous runners, which should be thinned to prevent crown rot. In large plantings, you can run a rotary mower with a bagger attachment over the patch to control crowding and keep the foliage fresh. In mixed container plantings, the spilling habit of the plant makes it a standout choice. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
About a third the size of the more well known A. mollis, A. alpina has delicate leaves edged in brilliant silver.
This plant has lobed, densely hairy, chartreuse foliage that is crimped at the edges. Soft, frothy, yellow-green foliage hovers above the plant from early summer through autumn.
This plant produces open clusters of pinkish purple, droplet-shaped flowers along drooping, arching 2-foot-tall stems. Its foliage is bluish green.
This plant produces fast-growing, edible, pungent, onion-like leaves. Small, white flowers appear in late summer.
'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.
A. ficoidea ‘Red Threads’ is a slender-leaved perennial selection that doesn't wander, forming a textured carpet in shades of deep burgundy. A single plant makes a mound about 8 inches tall and 14 inches wide. It blooms on and off all year, but you may never notice. The small, pale flower buttons are held in the leaf axils, where they are nearly indistinguishable from the foliage unless you're paying close attention. Use 'Red Threads' at the base of taller plants in the border to provide vibrant color echoes or contrasts. Grow as a warm-season annual in cooler climates, mass the plants in beds, or use in a formal knot garden as the Victorians did.
'Yellow Form' Alternanthera is an easy-to-grow, tropical plant with a fast-spreading habit and pointed, chartreuse-yellow leaves. It forms a mat of color from spring's frost-free date to fall's first frost. Like others of this genus, it makes a great edging, bedding, or container plant. In formal landscapes, it can be used in a knot garden. It looks great with dark-leaved plants.
This perennial vine sends out abundant pale purple to lavender flowers beginning in late October. It grows to 4 to 5 feet tall, and frost does not seem to impede the blooms. It can attract bees and butterflies well into November.
To get the best flower display, give climbing aster as much sun as possible. It should also have something to lean on, like a fence, a trellis, or an ornamental shrub. Don't prune it over the winter, no matter how dead it may look. It’s better to wait to tidy up things after the new growth appears in spring.
Arkansas blue star's delicate, willow-like foliage is topped with pale blue star-shaped flowers in spring. The light green foliage looks good all summer, turns a beautiful golden-yellow in fall, and can stand through most of the winter, adding interest especially when mixed with grasses and other attractive seedheads. It grows to almost 3 feet tall and wide.
Chalk up another great plant introduction from the folks at Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina. This dwarf blue star grows to only about half the size of the species, making it well suited for gardens with limited space. It performs best in full to partial sun and is appreciative of moist, well-drained soil. The sky blue flowers appear in early spring above the clean, dark green foliage. Try planting 'Short Stack' in a mess and along bed edges for a winning display.
In addition to willow blue-star’s small but charming clusters of blue flowers in late spring, it has upright, willow-like leaves that turn clear yellow in fall.
This beautiful, pale pink, semi-double-flowered anemone reaches 2 to 3 feet high. The Anemone × hybrida plants are commonly referred to as Japanese hybrids. They're the result of a cross between A. hupehensis var. japonica and A. vitifolia, a tender Himalayan species with grapeleaf-like foliage and white flowers.
This tall, woody-based perennial is distinguished by its elegant flowers. This cultivar displays the purity of a single, white, open-faced flower with a delicate center ring of golden yellow stamens. Every moment of floral development from bud to seed brings satisfying interest.
This beautiful, vigorous, pale pink, semi-double-flowering anemone starts blooming in early July into September on 28- to 36-inch stems.
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Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
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