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The Bloomingdale series of Ranunculus from Sakata Seed America sets the standard for Persian buttercups, the luminous tightly packed petals reminiscent of the tissue-paper flowers everyone makes in grade school. Their dainty looks are deceiving, though, as these flowers are durable and long lasting. I saw them during Pack Trials in Northern California, holding their own in gale-force winds.
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At Horticourt at the Philadelphia Flower Show, famous blue-ribbons are awarded to plants of the highest standards 
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Think purple heart is old hat? Try this new version from Hort Couture with oversized, deep-purple leaves to 3 inches wide. I stumbled on one at a garden center in Atlanta, and it was love at first sight. The graceful way it trails from its container inspires me to try it in a hanging basket.
Jim Martinez has been creating water-wise, environmentally friendly gardens in Dallas and Marfa, Texas for more than 30 years. He picks seven of his favorite plants to grow in desert regions, including Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
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Every now and then, we'll be linking to things that we covet. Today's pick is Polka Polka cushion, designed by Abigail Borg, a young Brit, whose retro floral prints manage to have a modern edge with sharp color palettes and delicate botanical detail.
The bluebonnet is a smart, strong flower, and, thanks to a state's embrace, a true Texan. And because they love them so, there are six bluebonnets recognized as state flowers.
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Botanical illustrator Sally Jacobs finds her subjects at Los Angeles farmers markets. A show of her vegetable watercolor portraits just opened at a gallery in Bergamot Station, Santa Monica. 
Vic Brotherson is one of London’s leading florists. The owner of Scarlet & Violet responds to our more bountiful times.
Photographer Edward Steichen was also a delphinium breeder. In 1936, New York's MoMA hosted an exhibit of new varieties that the artist had hybridized on his 10-acre farm in Connecticut. 
This new Japanese water iris has a poetic grace, with large flowers of lavender falls veined in violet and a dark-purple central clutch of “petaloids.” Adds a lovely accent to summer water gardens when grown in a partly submerged container. Hardy in Zones 4-9.  heronswood.com
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