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A native perennial shrub that grows to about 2 feet tall and wide and covers itself the whole season with honey-scented, white and yellow daisy flowers. The foliage is typical of the aster family. Plant en masse in a well-drained border or use in a rock garden. Blackfoot daisy can be short-lived.
This clumping, blue-green foliaged grass has amethyst-pink flowers that create fluffy, 8- to 12-inch-long plumes throughout the summer. Eventually, the flowers mature to the color of root beer foam. It is heat and drought tolerant, and it makes a fine annual in colder climates. Excellent drainage will help it thrive in humid summer climates. Not invasive from seed, ruby grass works great grown singly in pots or in groups.
This bushy perennial has oval, deep green leaves on branched stems. In summer, blooms appear: fragrant red, pink, magenta, yellow or white flowers with a delicate, faded-vanilla aroma. Flowers open in late afternoon and die by morning.
'Skyracer' grows to about 3 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet wide, and in late summer to early fall, sends up delicate panicles to a height of 6 or 7 feet. This finely-textured ornamental grass is great for areas where you need height but don't have space for a wider, heavier plant. It works well in a sunny border but make sure you site it so you can see it closeup. Expect outstanding yellow color in fall.
Bee balm, a clump-forming perennial, bears minty-scented scarlet, pink, or purple flowers in midsummer on branching, square stems. Leaves are aromatic as well. This native of eastern North America attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
In autumn, this unique specimen creates a spectacular, billowy inflorescence of massed, vibrant pink, airy flowers on 4-foot stems. It is noted for its tolerance to poorly drained soil. It is possibly hardy to Zone 6 with protection.
This beautiful warm-season grass produces attractive, pale purplish-gray plumes in autumn and goes dormant in the cold season. It forms a neat, upright clump with fine blue-gray foliage.
Attractive, glossy, fan-shaped leaves and creamy white bell-shaped flowers are borne in dense panicles for several weeks in spring. After flowering is complete, green leaves turn a rich burgundy color with reddish orange highlights on their margins.
This mound of lavender-blue flowers and aromatic, grayish green leaves up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide is great as edging or in a border, herb, or rock garden. It is an easy to grow, prolific bloomer that seems to be deer resistant. It blooms the whole summer and tolerates some shade. It also looks great with roses or on walls.
This cultivar is a clump-forming perennial with toothed gray-green leaves and larger flowers than the hybrid. It flowers profusely and long, especially if sheared. The blue-purple flowers are small but abundant, and the foliage is aromatic.
This new compact catmint, with the cultivar name 'Psfike', only reaches 8 to 10 inches tall and 12 to 16 inches wide, the perfect size for containers, bed edges, or other small nooks and crannies. It features the same silvery foliage and summer lavender blooms that we know and love, and thrives in full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil in Zones 4 to 9.
The yellow-green trumpet-shaped flowers of 'Lime Green' flowering tobacco mix well with many other colors in the garden. Growing to 2 or 3 feet tall, this annual's flowers attract hummingbirds and are fragrant at night.
Broad, deep-green leaves nearly a foot long and panicles of flowers the color of a Granny Smith apple make this Nicotiana a great companion for many other garden plants. It looks especially handsome with dark-foliaged trees or shrubs like purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’) or ‘Diabolo’ ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’). It is also good with grasses. N. langsdorffii comes into its own as a moderator wherever colors clash. That chameleon-like quality makes this nicotiana’s propensity to self-sow most welcome; no matter where its progeny appear, they look great.
This thick-stemmed annual or short-lived perennial reaches 5 to 6 feet tall, forming a large basal rosette of dark green leaves to 36 inches long. Lightly fragrant, long and tubular white flowers dangle in dense clusters from atop the tall stems. This plant starts blooming in late July or August. Flowers close in full sun.
This easy-going annual has 2- to 3-inch-wide blue flowers with black centers and wine-colored stamens, along with light green ferny foliage. Striking chalice-shaped seedpods form on sturdy stems and are green when they emerge, turning tan as they harden.
'Pesto Perpetuo' basil not only produces copious amounts of leaves for cooking but also is easy on the eye. It has creamy white variegated leaves and a columnar habit. It does not flower, so nothing will detract from the foliage.
Prickly pear cactus is a clump-forming and semi-prostrate plant. Flattened round-to-oval green pads 2-10 inches across have scattered needle-like spines and tufts of glochids (bristles). Showy bright yellow flowers appear in late spring and summer, maturing to edible, pulpy, red or purple fruit.
This plant is a creeping perennial that reaches 24 inches tall. Dark green leaves have a rich purple tint, and its purplish pink flower clusters appear from late spring through autumn. ‘Herrenhausen’ (Zones 5–8) displays masses of showy pink flowers with maroon bracts on purplish stems. ‘Hopleys’ (Zones 7–10) is taller (up to 36 inches) with large, long-blooming, deep pink flowers, and is a vigorous grower, more tolerant of heat than ‘Herrenhausen’.
This deciduous fern bears shuttlecocks of lance-shaped, feathery pale green fronds. Separate, erect, narrow fertile fronds are cinnamon-brown in spring. Cinnamon fern is native to eastern North America.
This African daisy blooms nonstop from early June through October, even in extreme heat. It has an attractive mounding form and is an ideal candidate for pots and baskets. Its daisy flowers are pale yellow with maroon centers.
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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by Phil Wood
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When starting a bed, choose the method that suits you best
by Steve Carroll
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