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There are many cultivars available of this fast-growing annual. They are best used as bedding, edging, or container plants. Panicles of blue, pink, purple, or white flowerheads arise from oval, downy leaves in midsummer and continue until frost. They have a soft, fuzzy appearance and attract butterflies.
This early, compact bloomer grows to only about 6 or 7 inches tall. With its icy blue-purple flowers, it works well when planted tightly along the foreground of a bed. Its color blends easily with most other hues and textures. -Julia Jones, Designing with annueals, Fine Gardening issue #120
For long-lasting bright yellow flowers that sparkle in midsummer, try Allium moly. It is robust, hardy, and an excellent cut flower, naturalizing and increasing happily in the sun in most garden soils. The cultivar 'Jeannine' flowers earlier and produces larger umbels on sturdier stems.
This plant has thin, strap-like foliage that tends to twist. It produces up to 30 long-lasting, 12- to 40-inch-tall pink or lilac flowers in mid- to late summer.
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.
This is a short-growing aster has creeping rootstocks and pink, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.
A well-behaved perennial from the mint family (Lamiaceae), variegated calamint has pale-green, oval leaves with strong white marbling. It sends up a wealth of clear-pink tubular flowers that muster an army of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds from mid- to late summer. It’s eye-catching both in and out of bloom and has a wonderful minty fragrance all season long.
Lily of the valley's bell-shaped, sweetly scented flowers bloom in early spring. It likes partial to full shade and is perfect for a woodland garden. It may not be the best choice for your beds and borders because it tends to spread, but it is a perfect ground cover if you have a large shady spot under some trees.
The bicolored, white-tipped and raspberry-centered blooms are large (1 to 1.5 inches across) and long lasting. Flowers cover the mound of grassy foliage for weeks in summer and early fall. This hybrid does not produce seed.
This series produces compact plants 1 foot tall and about as wide with large blossoms in pure white and many shades of pink. These season-long performers make fine edging plants.
The intense scarlet red blooms and yellow centers of this bedding plant will stop you in your tracks. ‘Cosmic Red’ blooms all summer and looks great at the front of the border and in containers. As with other cosmos cultivars, grow this plant in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. The already hypnotic color will intensify as light levels increase.
Dianthus 'Bath's Pink' is a stunning, wide-spreading ground cover with grassy, blue-green foliage and pink flowers. Use it to edge a bed or grow it in your rock garden for a splash of cool color. To keep its blooms going, be sure to deadhead.
This mat-forming species with dark green leaves is one of the easiest to grow. Blossoms range from white to red and are usually single and without fragrance. Use as bedding or in rock gardens.
This mat-forming species with narrow, dark green leaves is one of the easiest to grow. Blossoms with red eyes open in early summer and may rebloom if sheared back after flowering.
This compact species forms broad mats of blue-gray linear leaves and is perfect for a rock garden setting. The purplish-pink flowers are solitary, toothed, and deliciously fragrant.
California poppies grow to about 12 inches tall, and their pretty foliage is ferny, like carrot tops. This cultivar has soft rose colored, double blooms with yellow centers.
'Marine' heliotrope has a compact form with broadly oval to lance-shaped, wrinkled leaves tinged with purple. In summer, it bears a profusion of fragrant deep violet-blue flowerheads up to 6 inches across.
Beautiful variegation brightens the green and grey mottled foliage. A wide creamy-golden margin blends to the edge of the cut-leaf foliage. Its spreading branches mingle softly with its garden neighbors. Blooming in early fall, 12- to 15-inch stems produce light lavender aster-like flowers with a yellow center.
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.
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.
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
PLANTING PLAN: A deer-resistant bed that shines in fall and winter
by Nancy Matthews
Q&A Economical edging for beds
by Kate Feely
Q&A Ground covers to avoid
by Nancy Ondra
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