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These vigorous perennials have linear leaves to 24 inches long. Spikes of up to 20 funnel-shaped, marked, deep magenta flowers appear in spring.
A bushy, hairy-leaved annual, globe amaranth bears round purple flower bracts on thick stems in summer and early fall. This plant is useful as summer bedding or in a border or cutting garden. It is fairly drought tolerant and very heat tolerant. It grows to about 2 feet tall.
An upright, bushy annual with flowers (actually bracts) that resemble bright red strawberries with tiny yellow "seeds." Flowers are produced from summer to early fall and are great for cutting and drying. Leaves are hairy. Gomphrena is fairly drought tolerant and very heat tolerant. Use as bedding, in a border, or in a cut flower garden.
This native terrestrial orchid produces basal rosettes of striking silvery-veined evergreen foliage. Small white flowers are borne on single slender stems about 6 to 10 inches tall in late summer.
This stunning shrub blooms all year in some climates. A fast grower, its large, moonlight-colored flowers and finely divided, gray foliage are a must for any southern-temperate garden. Frost and drought tolerant once established, it attracts bees and hummingbirds and makes an excellent screening shrub.
Pale pink flowers pop up suddenly after a summer rainstorm and resemble small amaryllis flowers on this native of Brazil. In the proper conditions, they can multiply rapidly and carpet the garden.
Through the fall and into winter, pincushion hakea provides beautiful cut flowers for the holidays; the foliage and seedpods are also great for arrangements. You can prune it into a bushy shape or a slender, small tree. As a member of the Protea family, pincushion hakea does not like phosphorus fertilizer, and like most Australian plants, it prefers to be well mulched so that its specialized roots can extract nutrients from the mulch layer.
Brightly variegated golden foliage with green stripes near the leaf margins give this Japanese forest grass its distinctive look. Too much shade can cause the golden portion to fade to lime green. This slow-growing may not reach a mature size for three years, but it is definitely worth the wait. -Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
This vase-shaped, deciduous shrub, up to 12 feet tall and wide, has ascending branches and bright green leaves that turn yellow in autumn. It produces large yellow flowers in mid- and late winter on the bare branches. A cross between H. japonica and H. mollis.
This witch hazel is an upright shrub up to 12 feet tall and wide, with oval, softly hairy, mid-green leaves that turn yellow in autumn. Fragrant flowers are yellow, with crimped petals, appearing on bare branches in mid- and late winter.
This vase-shaped deciduous shrub grows up to 12 feet tall and wide, with ascending branches and bright green leaves that turn yellow in autumn. Clusters of sulfur-yellow flowers appear in mid- and late winter.
The native common witch hazel is an understory plant that becomes leggy if it has to reach for light, but in the open, it develops into a graceful, spreading shrub about 20 feet tall. Its broad leaves turn a clear, bright yellow in the autumn. The abundance of pale yellow fall flowers that accompanies the foliage comes as a wonderful late-season surprise. The deceptively fragile-looking blossoms that appear near the end of October seem to keep winter at bay for weeks.
A tropical tree by design, the Mexican fire bush freezes to the ground in winter in Zones 8-11, but grows up to 5 feet tall by summer's end. The erect, branched, woody stems bear simple copper-toned leaves with small orange flowers bunched along the tips. It loves the heat, and the more you can give it, the more vigorous it will be.
Sneezeweed is a clump-forming perennial with sturdy, branching stems and mid-green leaves. In August and September, masses of 2-inch, daisy-like yellow flowers are borne in large, loose terminal clusters on leafy 4- to 5-foot tall stems.
A profusion of golden yellow flowers appears for two to three weeks starting in early autumn. Daisy-like flowerheads are 3 inches across with 15 to 20 yellow ray florets radiating from a flat-topped purple or dark brown cone. The entire plant looks like a giant flame, drawing the attention of gardeners and many species of butterflies, bees, and other nectar feeders.
Sunflowers are some of the easiest plants to start from seed. They are available in numerous cultivars which span the range of heights, flower colors, and form.
These branching plants with thick stems and glossy mid-green leaves grow 5 to 6 feet tall. Slightly nodding flowerheads 2.5 inches or more across appear in summer. Bright yellow ray florets are sometimes flushed with red or purple-red disk florets.
Sawtooth sunflower's abundant yellow daisy flowers bloom from late summer well into fall. The dark green, narrow leaves have a leathery gloss. A well-behaved plant, sawtooth sunflower forms a thick, slowly expanding clump. It can reach 10 feet and taller, depending on conditions.
Dramatic powder blue foliage and spiky architecture are hallmarks of this plant. The leaves resemble rigid, tapering pieces of steel blue linguine collected in a porcupine-like dome.
This clump-forming perennial bears striking, sunflower-like yellow blooms on long stalks from midsummer to early autumn.
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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Q&A Economical edging for beds
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by Phil Wood
4 Ways to Remove Sod
When starting a bed, choose the method that suits you best
by Steve Carroll
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