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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
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.
Tatarian aster is an impressive, stately perennial with a flowering height of 3 to 6 feet. It can look you in the eye yet require no staking. More important, this aster flowers longer than any other garden aster, beginning in late September and early October and continuing into November. The 1-inch-wide, light lavender flowers are a magnet for local and migrating monarch butterflies. This plant tolerates many soil types, can form large colonies in a few years, and is easily divided.
False blue indigo's spikes of clear blue flowers in late spring can nearly carry a border by themselves. They also make great cut flowers. Large, inflated nearly black seed pods set in after flowering, giving this plant another interesting element. It is low maintenance and will look great in any natural or informal setting.
Serbian bellflowers have an easy, undemanding habit. Creating a stream of lavender blue, the 1-inch-diameter star-shaped blossoms bloom reliably from late spring to early fall. The foliage remains evergreen in mild winters and needs to be sheared only once in a while to keep its appearance tidy. 'Blue Waterfall' flows beautifully along bed edges and through rock gardens in full sun to partial shade.
Mountain bluet is an excellent choice for the border or rock garden. Blue flowers open from attractive buds in late spring to midsummer, then leave behind a mass of vigorous, silvery-green woolly foliage and woolly stems.
A garden favorite for many years, bleeding heart has soft green foliage and 1-inch-long rose pink and white heart-shaped flowers for several weeks in spring. Plants can form clumps 3 feet across and almost as tall. Foliage generally goes dormant in summer, so be sure to choose companion plants carefully so there isn't an empty space left in the garden. Beautiful in a border or woodland garden.
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 native meadow derivative is a compact version of the species. It blooms from midsummer into early autumn, with prominent, copper-orange central cones surrounded by drooping, rose- or purple-pink ray petals. It will reach 24 inches if not cut back.
This native meadow derivative has vibrant, daisy-like flowers that bloom from midsummer into early autumn. Its prominent, dark orange central cones are surrounded by larger (to 7 inches across) and more horizontal, reddish-pink, ray petals than the species.
The 'Rocky Top' hybrid offers the garden an abundance of pastel pink coneflowers with greenish-black cones on plants 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide. Interestingly, the flowers follow the sun like sunflowers and the petals sometimes curl upward slightly. Use this compact coneflower in borders, meadows, or as cut and dried flowers. E. tennesseensis was thought to be extinct in the 1960s, but was rediscovered and is now widely available as a garden plant.
This compact species has cobweb-like, woolly foliage. The unique spherical flowerheads appear steely blue before maturing to a brighter blue. The late summer flowers add charm of form and texture to a mixed border.
This upright plant bears cupped flowers 1.5 inches across in variable hues of pale to bright pink from late spring to midsummer.
Daylilies are classic, extremely popular garden plants. They feature long, arching, strappy leaves and long stems of generally 6-petaled flowers, though double flowers are popular as well. Each flower lasts only one day, hence the plant’s common name. Daylilies come in a wide range of colors, from cream and cheery yellow to peach, orange, fiery red, deep burgundy, pink, and purple. Some have contrasting throats and "eye-zones." Daylilies are ideal for a mixed herbaceous perennial border.
This everblooming daylily is a member of the Happy Ever Appster(R) family of daylilies. All Happy Ever Appster daylilies are offspring of the popular 'Happy Returns' daylily and were developed by Dr. Darrel Apps, famous daylily hybridizer. 'Just Plum Happy' flaunts 6-inch-wide, bright rose-pink blooms with purple centers on stems 12 to 16 inches tall from June to frost above a clump of deep green, strappy leaves 18 to 24 inches wide.
Hemerocallis 'Mini Pearl'
This is a lovely yellow-pink (some say apricot) daylily.
This daylily has large, pale creamy pink flowers.
Gray-green, spear-shaped leaves form a low, tidy, circular mound about 1 foot in diameter. This plant puts on a dazzling show of five-petaled magenta flowers on straight stalks about 2 feet high in mid-spring.
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.
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
Find out what all the buzz is about by planting these colorful perennials
by Sally Roth
10 Shrubs for Summer Color
These vibrant bloomers give even the showiest annuals and perennials a run for their money
by Paul Cappiello
Enchanting Japanese Maples
Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
by Francie Schroeder
Q&A Moving houseplants outdoors for the summer
by Tim Pollak
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