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'Bed Head' is a tall plant with 4-inch-wide salmon-colored blooms with an unusually tangled appearance. It flowers less abundantly than many other dahlias, but is striking nonetheless. 'Bed Head' is a lush grower that benefits from strong staking. Plant it at the back of the border, and show it off as a cut flower in a vase. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
'Bodacious' lives up to its name, with brilliant color and blooms that are supersized in both height and diameter. Heavy-headed 'Bodacious' requires beefy stakes. The rich color and ruffled effect of the loosely arranged petals make it stunning as a cut flower. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
'David Howard' is large and vigorous dahlia with fine color. Apricot blooms contrasts nicely with the dark foliage and with dark-colored companion plants. It pairs well both with hot colors such as red and orange and cool blues and purples. A tall grower, it requires staking and looks best in the middle or back of a border. Perhaps best of all, it blooms continually without deadheading. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
'Hissy Fitz' isn't a fussy plant, in spite of its amusing name. Its prolific and strong clear yellow blossoms look like pompoms, thanks to the small incisions at the tip of each petal. Of medium height, 'Hissy Fitz' is a sturdy grower and not hard to stake. It's a fine addition to the sunny border. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
The 20th century's most celebrated dahlia is 'Jersey Beauty'. This towering, 4- to 6-foot-tall 1920s classic will produce so many lively, true-pink, classic dahlia flowers that you can cut all you want and still have a great garden display. This selection is exceptionally vigorous and beautiful.
Of the maybe 10,000 named dahlias introduced in the 1800s—when dahlias ranked right up there with roses in popularity—only three survive. One of them is 'Kaiser Wilhelm', introduced in 1892. Its 3-inch flowers have neatly curled petals of soft custard-yellow brushed with burgundy, and a green button eye just like that of an old rose. The plant can grow to 5 feet.
The pink-and-cream dinner-plate-sized 'Kidd's Climax' of 1947 has 10-inch flowers atop 4-foot-tall plants.
If you like the combination of peach and pink, you'll love 'Myrtle's Folly', whose narrow, twisted petals of deep pink and light orange mature to reveal a yellow center. Perhaps too ungainly to use as a border plant, 'Myrtle's Folly' will provide a reliable supply of flowers that look perfect in a vase. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
A charming choice, 'Pooh' has orange-red petals with gold and lemon-colored petal-like sepals. Plant this dahlia toward the back in a border, where its small flowers on tall stalks will be sure to stand out. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
For a change of pace, 'Zorro' looks fantastic floating stemless in a bowl of water. The ruffled petals accentuate the dark red hue. Staking is a must to prevent the stems from flopping beneath the weight of its huge and heavy blooms. Pinch back the young shoots to promote branching and sturdier stalks. 'Zorro' consistently produces quality tubers for division and, as such, is the perfect cultivar to start (or sustain) a dahlia collection. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
Darmera's flower stalks emerge from the ground on naked stems in spring, and are followed by cupped, rounded but indented leaves up to 24 inches across. The foliage forms a lovely, vase-like clump, 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The flower clusters are composed of many 5-petaled, starry, pink or white florets with conspicuous stamens. This native of the western U.S. is found growing along woodland stream banks, and helps to add a tropical look to temperate gardens. Darmera makes a distinct and long-lasting foliage statement in moist conditions, and exhibits autumn color also.
'Blue Bird' is a Pacific Hybrid delphinium grown as an annual or biennial. Its mid-blue flowers have white centers. The flowers are large but short-lived and bloom on tall stems from early summer to midsummer. Grow at the back of a border or in the middle of an island bed. There is nothing quite like delphiniums in the garden.
Belonging to the Belladonna Group hybrids, this delphinium bears loose, branched spikes of intense blue flowers with soft white edges. It may rebloom if deadheaded. The cultivar name pays homage to the resemblance of the flower color to Delft pottery.
The parent of the regal hybrid Delphiniums, the species has 3- to 4-foot-tall spires of blue, violet, lavender, or white flowers. It usually requires staking.
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.
This is a biennial or short-lived perennial, which may last longer and rebloom if deadheaded. It sports dramatic blossoms in contrasting colors in spires reaching six feet high in rich soil, but more likely to 3 or 4 feet.
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).
Coneflowers have much to offer the garden, and now they have fragrance, too. 'Fragrant Angel' has large, sweetly scented flowers made up of two rows of white petals surrounding a greenish orange cone. The plants grow to 40 inches and attract butterflies. Grow them in a border, meadow, cottage garden, or cut flower garden.
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.
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