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Montbretia looks like a small gladiolus until it blooms in late summer, when abundant sprays of orange, gold, or yellow star-shaped flowers are held by gracefully thin, arching, zigzag stems rising from a cluster of pale green, sword-shaped leaves.
The saffron crocus blooms in the autumn, producing 1 to 5 rich lilac flowers with dark purple veins, held wide open above inconspicuous foliage.
This autumn-flowering cormous perennial bears long-tubed flowers in shades of violet-blue with deeper blue veins and divided, bright orange styles.
A fine plant for fall, this cyclamen's frequently scented, mottled flowers emerge directly from the soil, followed by a carpet of patterned, mid- to dark green leaves attractively variegated with patterns in white or silver. It often blooms for up to two months. Each small pink or white flower has swept-back petals resembling a dove in flight, marked with maroon at the mouth. It makes a good foliage display all winter after the flowers have faded.
Cardoon is an architectural splendor with bold texture, thanks to its large, prickly, almost dagger-shaped gray-green arching leaves and a statuesque, vase-shaped frame. It is topped with round, purple, thistlelike flowers in midsummer. Cardoon can reach up to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
'Bashful' is a reliable and prolific bloomer. The blooms (purplish petals surrounding a golden center) have a velvety feel that draws bees and butterflies. As dahlias go, 'Bashful' is not a tall plant, so it's best to place it near the front of a bed. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
'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
With its deep purple-black leaves and brilliant summer blooms, 'Bishop of Llandaff' is a fine addition to the sunny bed or border. The 4- to 6-inch-round red-petaled flowers have deep purple and yellow centers, which are set off nicely by the plant's dark foliage. Use this long-stemmed cultivar in cut-flower arrangements. -Gerald Gibbens, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue#120
'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
'Figaro' is a dwarf "landscape" dahlia with semi-double flowers in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, and white. It works well as bedding and in containers, and blooms from planting time until frost.
'Gallery Art Deco' is a little taller than the other plants in the Gallery series. It grows to a height of 2 feet and bears 4- to 5-inch-wide peach/apricot blooms. Petals are outlined in burgundy. 'Gallery Art Deco' provides lots of large flowers for a long time, and it is a perfect choice for containers. -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
'Honka' has a simple, cheerful charm. Its eight-petaled, star-shaped flowers are lightly scented (not many dahlias are fragrant). 'Honka' brings a subtle presence to the late-summer border. Sturdy stems support the flowers above the plant and look good in the front of the border alongside taller perennials with a backdrop of dark foliage. No staking is required. -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
This new dahlia has gorgeous, bright yellow blooms that pop against its rich, dark purple (nearly black) foliage. 'Mystic Illusion' is well branched and makes a strong statement in beds, borders, and containers.
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
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
A guide to growing, care, and propagation of rex begonias, plus some great cultivars
by Rita Randolph
PLANTING PLAN: A deer-resistant bed that shines in fall and winter
by Nancy Matthews
Q&A Economical edging for beds
by Kate Feely
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