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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.
This showstopper produces conspicuous, red-purple leaf sheaths with dense, purple domed flowerheads.
This species is notable in stature, forming a giant mound and producing a profusion of airy white flowers on tall stems in late spring to midsummer and then dying down in midsummer to late summer. Colewort can reach 8 feet high and about half as wide. Grow in a large border or open woodland.
This cultivar of the eastern North American native Joe Pye weed is shorter and bushier than the species. From late summer into fall, its domes of dusky pink flowers attract butterflies and other insects. The seedheads persist well into winter. Grow 'Gateway' in a border, meadow, or cottage garden. It does best in soil that does not dry out.
Large, domed flowerheads of pink, light purple, or off-white add soft color and texture to the summer and fall garden. The leaves are purple-tinged on thick stems suffused with maroon. This eastern U.S. native attracts butterflies from mid-summer to early fall.
This variety has dark, glossy evergreen leaves arranged in tight rosettes, and it produces yellow-green bracts in mid-spring and early summer.
This robust perennial forms a large shrub that adds a nice textural element to the back of the border. In early spring it produces 6-inch-wide, vivid yellow bracts.
Perfectly round, puckered, bright-gold leaves have a pattern resembling seersucker fabric. Pale-lavender flowers appear in early summer.
This upright selection reaches 24 inches tall and 44 to 48 inches wide. 'Fort Knox' has an elegant vase-shaped habit and radiant yellowish-gold leaves 10 inches long by 6 inches wide. Lavender flowers appear in midsummer.
A robust, clump-forming perennial, 'Piedmont Gold' has prominently veined, wavy-margined, bright-gold leaves 10 inches long by 7 inches wide. It reaches an average height of 18 to 25 inches tall and 40 inches wide. White flowers on 26-inch stems appear in midsummer.
Native to the southwestern U.S., California, and Mexico, wild four o'clocks cover themselves with hundreds of purple-pink, petunia-like blooms that open in unison in the afternoon or in the morning on cloudy days. Their musky fragrance attracts their primary pollinator, the hawkmoth. Grow in a border. xeric garden, or rock garden.
An oversize tender perennial, blood banana has large, fleshy, rubberlike leaves with dark markings. The foliage is green with random reddish purple blotches. On mature plants, orange or red flowers develop into inedible orange fruits. -Julia Jones, Designing with annuals, Fine Gardening issue #120
'Little Red' is a dwarf selection of oleander, which is a large evergreen shrub. Its flowers are deep red and bloom all summer long. This plant is tough and drought-tolerant.
Pale yellow, four-inch-long flowers dangle all around the stems of this evergreen, fuchsia look-alike. Given a long enough growing season, it can reach 5 feet tall and as wide. Where not hardy, grow it as a tender perennial.
From late spring to fall, this easy-going perennial bears deep orange-red flowers on 3- to 4-foot-tall spikes that rise above a loose, 6-foot-wide mound of heart-shaped, sticky leaves. The native habitat for this brightly colored salvia is a very limited area at an altitude of 9,000 feet in the narrow range of the Mexican Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains.
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.
A coarse but bold perennial giant for the back of the border with yellow, daisy-like flowers in summer. Cups form where the toothed leaves meet the thick stems; birds are said to drink from the water held in the cups. Tough prairie natives that will self-sow, these plants need lots of sun and lots of room—a single plant can reach 7 or 8 feet tall and 6 feet across.
This eye-catching cultivar has flower clusters that radiate out in all directions and resemble streaming yellow fireworks. Its form is truly unique and enchanting. It reliably provides end-of-season color in blazing shades of yellow. It grows to 5 feet tall and provides good structure in the garden all year.
Alliums All Season Long
Deer resistant and dynamic, these bulbs provide color from the first showers of spring to the last leaves of fall
by Stephanie Cohen
Spectacular Spring Bloomers
These perennials are the light at the end of the long, wintry tunnel
by Dave Demers
Find out what all the buzz is about by planting these colorful perennials
by Sally Roth
Enchanting Japanese Maples
Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
by Francie Schroeder
How to Grow Trilliums
Plant the best species for your region in fall for a spectacular display in spring
by Gene E. Bush
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