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This biennial or short-lived perennial species is one of the earliest mulleins to bloom. Its showy blossoms of dark-purple, violet, pink, or white open along slender 3-foot spires for about two weeks in early summer. Its shiny dark green leaves are ground-hugging and evergreen. It has naturalized in some regions of the U.S.
This outstanding annual or perennial deserves its popularity. It makes an architectural statement with slender, willowy stems that stand up to 6 feet tall and do not need staking. It then branches out widely near the top where rich lilac-purple flower clusters stand alone, as if they are floating. This Verbena makes a great see-through plant.
This low-growing perennial produces long-lasting light pink blossoms with dark pink centers. It is an heirloom cultivar of the native species. Verbenas are excellent for annual borders, containers—especially hanging baskets—and some for the mixed herbaceous border.
This fine Veronica was the Perennial Plant of the Year in 1993. From early summer to frost this upright cultivar forms branched spikes (to 7 inches long) of dark violet-blue flowers. It has glossy and crinkled dark green leaves, and grows to less than 2 feet tall. It is a fine choice for adding long-season color to a mixed border.
This dense, mat-forming species has 3-inch-tall evergreen foliage with toothed gray leaves. Its saucer-shaped flowers are deep blue with white eyes, and they bloom from early spring to summer. It is drought tolerant and makes a good groundcover. In garden sites, it needs protection from winter moisture.
This tough, versatile plant requires little maintenance. 'Georgia Blue' is willing to grow in sunny or shady spots, puts up with excessive rain or drought conditions, and attracts butterflies with a low blanket of sky blue flowers from spring into summer. Small, dark green leaves turn glossy burgundy in winter. Use it in containers or rock walls, or as a companion groundcover to spring bulbs under trees.
This species has multiple 5- to 7-foot-tall, tapering spikes of pinkish-lavender flowers from summer to fall. They look like elegant, living candelabras and add a vertical accent to the back of a mixed border or wild garden.
This species has multiple tapering, soft spikes of white to pale pink or bluish purple flowers that look like elegant, living candelabras. The blooms reach 4 feet or more, adding a vertical accent to the back of a mixed border or wild garden from mid-summer to early autumn. Plants spread to about 3 feet.
Like other creeping myrtles, 'Illumination' is a tough evergreen ground cover for shade that will grow in almost any soil. Its hallmark is its bright gold leaves that are edged with a border of irregular green. Periwinkle-blue flowers appear in spring. Use 'Illumination' as a shade ground cover or in hanging baskets. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
A hardworking, compact perennial, ‘Etain’ violet forms well-behaved clumps and blooms from time to time from spring through fall. The attractive, fleshy, bright green foliage needs protection from slugs. -Sylvia Matlock, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
This annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial is grown for its long season of pansy flowers in shades of purple, blue, yellow, and white. Viola tricolor is pretty in containers, as edging, or as a companion for bulbs. It self-seeds readily.
Chaste tree is a southern favorite beginning to gain favor across the country. Whether left to grow as a large, multistemmed shrub or cut back annually for a more compact look, this selection is a winner. Fine, lacy leaves are glossy and green. Bright blue flower panicles begin to form in early summer and continue through the heat of the season and into fall. This is a reasonably cold-hardy, deer-resistant woody plant, and while V. agnus-castus is typically considered a Zone 7 plant, the variety latifolia can be grown in Zone 6 and even in southern areas of Zone 5.
Anyone who gardens in the shade is familiar with heucherella. ‘Sweet Tea’ was bred using Heuchera villosa, a native of the eastern United States, as one of its parents, which has added enough resistance to heat, drought, and humidity to make it able to handle even the extreme climate of Texas. ‘Sweet Tea’ has large, stained, orange-bronze leaves with dark burgundy veins and short spikes of small white flowers that appear in early spring. Its brightly colored foliage, however, is the main reason to have this plant. Give it well-drained soil, and lift and divide it every couple of years. -Jimmy Turner, Perennials for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133
This elephant ear has 2-foot-long, heart-shaped chartreuse leaves that flutter in the slightest breeze and seem to glow, even on cloudy days. It performs well in full sun and partial shade and doesn’t mind slightly acidic, rich, moist soil
The most familiar calla, this 3-foot-tall and 2-foot-wide plant has large white flowers—up to 10 inches long—that surround a creamy yellow fingerlike centerpiece. They bloom from late spring to mid-summer. The upright, arrow-shaped leaves are solid green and glossy.
This heat-loving native Southwestern species has gray-green leaves and grows to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Orangey red, tubular blossoms cover the plant in late summer and early fall.
These Mexican native bulbs actually offer demanding gardeners flowers on demand. They produce strappy foliage to 12 inches tall and clusters of buttery-yellow, starry, crocus-like blossoms two to three days after every rain in summer and early autumn. Or, if it doesn't rain, simply water and fertilize three days prior to your intended display, and the moisture will prompt the flowers to appear, hence the common name, rainflower. These bulbs are widely adaptable to diverse soil conditions, and may be grown in full sun to partial shade, but they prefer some shade.
This native perennial wildflower of the American Southwest bears a profusion of bright yellow to golden yellow flowers atop 4-inch high plants that spread to 15 inches wide. They bloom from late summer into fall.
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
Bulbs for Summer and Fall
You can plant these in spring for an array of bold flowers later in the year
by John E. Bryan
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
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