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Full-moon maple has deeply lobed leaves, crimson autumn color, and plenty of small, reddish flowers in spring. It can be grown as a small tree or multi-stemmed shrub. Its growth habit is mounded, bushy, and spreading. The cultivar name 'Aconitifolium' refers to the fact that its ferny foliage resembles that of monkshood (Aconitum). This beautiful tree makes a great specimen plant and is very hardy.
This round, mound-forming, deciduous Japanese maple has many qualities that make it an excellent garden plant, including a sculptural form, deeply cut foliage, arching shoots, and golden autumn color. The reddish purple flowers are tiny but attractive up close. They are followed by winged fruit. Threadleaf Japanese maple makes a beautiful specimen in small gardens and can be grown in large containers or used for bonsai.
This is an erect, bushy perennial with scented gray-green leaves. Its raspberry-red flowers grow on loose, foot-long spikes from midsummer to late fall. The flower spikes have a long bloom period and attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insects.
The drumstick allium has egg-shaped flowers in summer that start off green, then bloom and develop to pink and then clover red-purple. These plants are attractive in a bed or border, especially peeking up through other plants, such as roses, so that their nondescript foliage is hidden. Their vertical presence and eye-catching flower shape are valuable additions to the garden, and they naturalize freely.
This is the last of the ornamental onions to flower, when mop-like heads of rose-purple flowers appear with orange anthers. The flowers are impervious to frost or snow. Superior cultivars include ‘Ozawa’, with larger purple flower heads than the species. A white-flowered form known as A. thunbergii ‘Alba’ is a splendid plant, with cup-shaped florets sporting white stamens, yellow anthers, and green centers.
'Casablanca' Peruvian lily is the closest to white that this genus has gotten as of yet. Inside its amaryllis-shaped white flowers, reddish dashes on a yellow wash and a pale pink throat add interest. 'Casablanca' is also taller than most other Alstroemerias. They make great cut flowers and are frequently used by florists; they also add a tropical feel to beds and borders. Roots are very brittle and care should be taken when planting.
Amaranthus cruentus makes a striking statement in beds or borders. Growing to 6 feet in height, it bears somewhat fuzzy-looking spires of purplish red flowers in summer, followed by seed heads that can be red, purple, or yellow. It is native to tropical regions of North and South America, and is one of three Amaranthus species cultivated for their grain.
This plant produces upright racemes of two-lipped flowers with spreading, rounded lobes in a vast arrray of warm colors. It flowers profusely summer through autumn.
This plant is noted for its beautiful bronze fall foliage. Its leaves are rounded to heart-shaped and sometimes puckered, growing to about 12 inches. It bears pink to rose-red flowers on red stalks in late winter to early spring.
Calibrachoa is a relatively new genus of flowering plants. The first cultivars weren't released until 1992. This cultivar's self-cleaning, petunia-like flowers are painted in a sunny mix of orange, red, and yellow. It is an easy-to-grow, trailing perennial, often used as an annual in hanging baskets, window boxes, and other containers.
This deciduous shrub has a dense, rounded habit, growing 6 to 9 feet tall and as wide. Its unusual, waterlily-like, fragrant flowers combine the scent of strawberries, banana, and pineapple. Flowers appear in May and continuing blooming on and off into June and July. The dark green leaves and bark release a clove or camphor-like scent when crushed.
This deciduous small tree initially has a pyramidal form, and later rounded. Cercis-like, opposite, heart-shaped blue-green leaves are borne on stiff, slender, pendulous branches that fan out from the crown and sweep the ground. Caramel-scented foliage emerges bronze or purple-red, turns blue-green, then fades to gold or apricot in autumn. Tiny red flowers emerge in late March or early April before the leaves.
One look at ‘Texas Scarlet’ flowering quince in bloom and most gardeners are instantly sold. Though the display only lasts a week or two in early spring, the sight of the tomato-red flowers is unforgettable. During the rest of the season, ‘Texas Scarlet’ remains a wave of glossy green leaves that reaches 2 to 3 feet tall in the toughest of conditions.
There would be few cut flowers blooming in October were it not for hardy garden mums. Their clusters of flowerheads show over a long period and are available in many colors, including red, orange, yellow, white, and lavender.
This vigorous climber can easily cover a support of 8 to 10 feet tall once established. Finely textured, dense light-green foliage makes an excellent foil for dainty, pink and carmine teardrop-shaped flowers 2 inches across. Blooms appear in early August and continue well into autumn.
'Route 66' features big, bold, bicolor blooms. A rich ring of burgundy surrounding the flower center bleeds out to the very tips of the yellow petals. Narrow, deep-green foliage forms vigorous, uniform clumps.
Abundant eye-catching, brillliantly red, tubular flowers appear in midsummer atop bold, slightly arching, sparsely branched 3-foot-tall stems. Crocosmia's mid-green leaves are pleated and swordlike.
This bold-colored cuphea is a compact, mounding subshrub covered with dark-centered, cherry red blooms centered with a deep purple throat and slightly ruffled petal edges. Flowers are larger than those of the species. This sun-loving plant can reach up to 3 feet in height and width.
Totally Tempted™ cuphea has nonstop, bright red summer flowers that don't need deadheading. It doesn't mind summer heat and has a more compact habit than most cultivars in this species, growing to just a foot tall and a little wider.
This tireless bloomer is best known for its small, tubular flowers, each colored in vivid orange hues and tipped with white, like the ash on a glowing cigar. Each plant creates a mass of slender branches with lance-shaped, mid-green leaves. At the tip of the branches are fireworks bursts of unusual cigarlike flowers, each 1-1/4 inches long and softly hairy. Though the flowers look orangey, they are actually colored red and shaded with green-yellow.
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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