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The light, lavender-blue flowers, which attract butterflies to the garden, bloom in July, and often last throughout September. Russian sage is a particularly striking plant when grown along with white, yellow, or orange flowered perennials. Tones down bright yellow in the garden as well. Its silver-gray, deeply cut foliage and stiff stems are striking in the winter. -Santa Rosa Gardens
This vigorous, but noninvasive perennial flowers from early summer into autumn with bright red, purple, or white blossoms. The narrow blossoms are up to 4 inches long, and are held on long stalks above pointed, slightly puckered leaves. It grows to 4 feet high and wide.
This vigorous but noninvasive perennial flowers from early summer into autumn with crimson blossoms to 6 inches long. Its leaves are dark green, arrow-shaped, and slightly puckered. It grows to 4 feet high and wide.
This massive herbaceous shrub needs a lot of room to show off its vase-shaped form, but it does not spread or self-sow like some of its relatives. It blooms close to the ground from June and continues throughout the summer atop 6-foot-tall stems. The large, white, astilbe-like blossoms fade to pink and then reddish-brown as the season comes to a close.
This clumping perennial has triangular, strongly flavored, crinkly leaves. Its bright green foliage livens up any garden.
This easy, fast-growing annual cascades 3 feet or more from window boxes or hanging baskets. It's a prolific bloomer, with nonstop, violet flowers approximately 1.5 inches wide blanketing the foliage. Plants bloom from May through the first frost.
This spectacular selection shines brightly in the most brutal of circumstances. Month after month, this petunia spills oodles of white- and yellow-throated, pink-rimmed blooms elegantly over bed edges.
This evergreen, rhizomatous, perennial grass has an upright habit, with bamboo-like foliage to 14 inches tall. Flat, linear leaves are sometimes striped yellow. Pale green spikelets turn buff with age.
Mock orange is an upright, deciduous shrub grown for its very fragrant, creamy white flowers that bloom in early summer. 'Aureus' has golden yellow leaves in spring that turn yellow-green in summer. Use in a shrub border or woodland garden.
An unusual looking perennial from Turkey and Syria with hooded, pale yellow flowers encircling hairy stems. The flowers somewhat resemble Monarda. Leaves are aromatic and slightly fuzzy. P. russeliana reaches 3 feet tall and nearly as wide. Grow en masse in a border or near a warm wall.
This cultivar of the popular blue phlox has round, full flowers with overlapping petals. It is noteworthy for its particularly rich blue-violet color. Use it in rock gardens or alpine houses, in a dry wall, or as edging.
This is a very fragrant native woodland phlox with powder-blue flowers in spring. Reaching only 1 foot tall, it can spread to almost 2 feet and makes an attractive groundcover under shrubs or planted with other spring-blooming wildflowers. Leaves are semi-evergreen and hairy; stems root along their length. The blue flowers are salverform with petal lobes. This plant attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
This spreading, semi-evergreen perennial has hairy leaves and lavender-blue to pale violet and white flowers borne in open clusters in early spring. Flowers can have notched or unnotched petal lobes. Cultivars include ‘Clouds of Perfume’ with light lavender-blue flowers; ‘Eco Texas Purple’ (dark purple with a violet eye); ‘Fuller’s White’ (white); and ‘London Grove’ (lavender-blue flowers).
This upright, herbaceous perennial has slender, hairy stems reaching 1.5 to 3 feet tall, with clusters of lavender-rose, lilac-pink, or white flowers. The stems often have burgundy spots on them. Blooms appear in early summer and midsummer.
This sturdy, upright perennial reaches 2 to 4 feet tall. In July and August, and through September with deadheading, it bears flowers in shades of white, coral, pink, red, lavender, and violet, depending on the cultivar. Some have a lighter or darker eye, and others have variegated leaves. Many of the cultivars are fragrant; scent is most noticeable at night.
This pure white phlox is valuable in the garden because of its abundant, fragrant flowers, its sturdy growth habit, and its resistance to powdery mildew. Growing to about 3 ½ feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide, it blooms from early summer to early fall. It needs a consistently moist soil. Use it in a border or cottage garden. It will glow at dusk.
This garden phlox has striking, bicolor lavender-and-pink flowers beginning in early summer and displays a pleasing compact form. Its slightly waxy leaves hold powdery mildew at bay, and the plant doesn't even flinch in heat, humidity, or drought. 'John Fanick' grows to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
A dense, vigorous, mat-forming ground cover, creeping phlox has short flower stems from 3 to 12 inches tall. The flowers can be pale lavender-blue, rose-pink, medium violet, or white, with unnotched petals and a yellow center.
Moss phlox is a dense ground cover blanketed with notch-petaled flowers in April and May. Blooms can be muddy hot pink, bright rose, and magenta, while other cultivars include white, soft lavender-blue, clear pale pink to deep pink, clear scarlet, and lavender, some with a darker or lighter eye. Evergreen foliage is narrow, short, and stiff. Darker-flowered forms have dark-green leaves or red-tinged leaves that darken to burgundy in winter.
This New Zealand flax has dark reddish brown leaves that form a neat clump less than 2 feet tall and about as wide. It makes a great container plant.
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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