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This showstopper produces conspicuous, red-purple leaf sheaths with dense, purple domed flowerheads.
This is a short-growing aster with lilac-blue flowers and creeping rootstocks. Many cultivars exist. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.
False blue indigo's spikes of clear blue flowers in late spring can nearly carry a border by themselves. They also make great cut flowers. Large, inflated nearly black seed pods set in after flowering, giving this plant another interesting element. It is low maintenance and will look great in any natural or informal setting.
Boltonias are vigorous perennials grown for their sprays of aster-like flowers, which appear above clean, gray-green foliage. Their vigorous nature makes them suitable for naturalizing. They are also great in the border (and for cutting), but will benefit from frequent dividing to keep in bounds, and may be cut back in late spring for more compact plants.
Boltonias are vigorous perennials grown for their sprays of aster-like flowers, which appear above clean, gray-green foliage. Their vigorous nature makes them suitable for naturalizing. They are also great in the border (and for cutting), but will benefit from frequent dividing to keep in bounds, and may be cut back in late spring for more compact plants. 'Snowbank' produces masses of white flowers in late summer.
Spikes of violet, star-shaped flowers top stems reaching from 2 to 4 feet in late spring. The species is native to western Oregon. 'Blue Danube' would be beautiful in a border, meadow, or containers. Camassia make good cut flowers.
This clumping, robust perennial has unusual ramrod-stiff flower stems that bloom from early summer through late summer. Its fat, rusty buds open into large, deep yellow thistle flowers the size of a small fist. Easy to cut and dry for arrangements. This plant has big, coarse leaves that call for strong companions.
A rare and graceful beauty, this plant is not a true foxglove, but its flowers are similarly shaped and hang in clusters. They come in shades of white and pink with pale violet stripes highlighting the inner throats. This plant’s soft coloring brings the delicacy typical of spring-blooming plants into the summer garden. The gray-green foliage has a distinctly nutty fragrance and is deer resistant. As a large-scale plant, South African foxglove holds its own when planted among shrubs and is best complemented by plants with deep purple foliage. It also makes a good cutting flower.
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.
Stunning, fragrant pinkish-purple flowers bloom in spring and then sporadically through fall. The ferny foliage can reach as high as 3 feet and looks great around hostas and other shade garden plants.
'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
'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
'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
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
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
For a change of pace, 'Zorro' looks fantastic floating stemless in a bowl of water. The ruffled petals accentuate the dark red hue. Staking is a must to prevent the stems from flopping beneath the weight of its huge and heavy blooms. Pinch back the young shoots to promote branching and sturdier stalks. 'Zorro' consistently produces quality tubers for division and, as such, is the perfect cultivar to start (or sustain) a dahlia collection. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
This is a biennial or short-lived perennial, which may last longer and rebloom if deadheaded. It sports dramatic blossoms in contrasting colors in spires reaching six feet high in rich soil, but more likely to 3 or 4 feet.
This dramatic fern diplays 4-foot-tall arching fronds that form impressive clumps with age. It is a hybrid of two native ferns and makes a wonderful groundcover.
This native meadow perennial has daisy-like blossoms in early summer. It bears copper-orange central cones surrounded by short, arching, ray petals in pink or purple-pink, and occasionally white.
Q&A Ground covers to avoid
by Nancy Ondra
Planting Ground Covers
Proper spacing and regular care are the best ways to create a lush, weed-free carpet
by Mary Hirshfeld
Flowering Ground Covers
To blanket an area small or large, these are the perennials to pick
by Nancy Ondra
Great Plants for a Fall Cutting Garden
Rely on colorful, long-stemmed plants to keep your vases filled as the season winds down
by Suzanne McIntire
Dividing a ground cover
by Liana Mackey
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