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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.
A classic plant for both herb gardens and borders, anise hyssop is composed of erect branches of mint-and-licorice-scented, medium green leaves ending in fuzzy spikes of small lavender flowers. The plant grows to 3 to 5 feet tall and 1 foot wide and reseeds freely. The flowers are edible and are charming crumbled into salads. The flowers are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Anise hyssop has subtle but eye-catching chartreuse foliage. Its powder-blue, long-lasting flowers contrast nicely with its leaves.
This 4-foot-tall and 18-ich-wide, bushy perennial, very similar to the more common anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) has strongly mint-and-licorice-scented leaves and short spikes of lavender-blue flowers from midsummer to early fall. Unlike most agastaches, both of these species can tolerate more moisture and humity, making them highly suited to climates outside the arid west.
True to its name, sunset hyssop encapsulates a Western sunset in its flowers: bronze with hints of orange and yellow, and streaks of magenta and pink along the margins. More and more flowers emerge as summer progresses. The plant blooms heavily in August, and continues into autumn.
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.
Allium 'Globemaster' is a true showstopper, growing to about 32 inches tall. Very large, majestic purple spheres up to 8 inches across bear numerous star-shaped, deep lilac flowers in May and June.
This plant produces open clusters of pinkish purple, droplet-shaped flowers along drooping, arching 2-foot-tall stems. Its foliage is bluish green.
In summer, this plant bears large rounded flower heads up to 4 inches across with a multitude of star-shaped lilac-pink flowers.
This plant bears 12- to 18-inch blooms with nearly 100 pink-rose flowers. When the flowers are spent, they are replaced by airy, fluffy seedpods.
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.
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 perennial vine sends out abundant pale purple to lavender flowers beginning in late October. It grows to 4 to 5 feet tall, and frost does not seem to impede the blooms. It can attract bees and butterflies well into November.
To get the best flower display, give climbing aster as much sun as possible. It should also have something to lean on, like a fence, a trellis, or an ornamental shrub. Don't prune it over the winter, no matter how dead it may look. It’s better to wait to tidy up things after the new growth appears in spring.
This showstopper produces conspicuous, red-purple leaf sheaths with dense, purple domed flowerheads.
A favorite of children, Jack-in-the-pulpit is a tuberous perennial producing one or two leaves, each divided into three narrow leaflets. But it's best known for its spring to early summer display of hooded, green spathes—Jack's pulpit—which are often striped with purple. Autumn brings clusters of densely packed, showy red berries.
A half-hardy perennial, this sophisticated climber grows to 8 feet tall. It has a profuse show of 1.5-inch indigo, violet, pink, or white flowers. It's great for the cold greenhouse or conservatory, and will often bloom until the end of the year unless there is a hard frost.
European wild ginger is a low-growing groundcover with glossy, evergreen, heart-shaped leaves. Its unusual purple-brown flowers lie mostly concealed beneath foliage.
This wild ginger is an evergreen groundcover with heart-shaped, shiny leaves that are often marbled. Its interesting brown-purple flowers hide beneath the foliage.
This is a slow-growing ginger, but worth the wait. Its round evergreen green leaves have a prominent silver-white mottling.
This plant flowers profusely and for an exceptionally long time, from early summer to mid-fall. Its flowers are violet-blue.
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Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
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Perfect drainage makes this recipe succeed
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VIDEO How to Wrangle a Cactus
Here's how to handle these prickly plants without hurting yourself
by Jeff Moore
Potted plants keep flower beds looking their best
Make a Succulent Topiary
Everybody’s growing these trendy plants—but not like this
by Debra Lee Baldwin
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