Lilac blue with a cream face, deep-purple blotch and clutch of whiskers, Viola Sorbet Marina Babyface is sweet beyond belief, and fragrant too. Forms a mound 6 inches high and up to 10 inches across; flowers are an inch or more wide. Very frost tolerant.
A black-eyed Susan amped to the max. Heads of narrow, quilled golden petals look like a cheerleader’s pom-pom. Blooms summer through fall, 18 inches tall. Hardy to Zone 5a.
One of the most-striking and long-lasting cut flowers isn’t even a flower. The foliage of ‘Crane Red’ ornamental kale forms a tight cluster, rose veined with a rosy-purple center, at the end of a long, sturdy stem, looking like an oversize rose blossom. The Crane Series (which comes in several colors, including bicolor and white) was bred specifically for cutting, taking the popular cool-season annual kale to new heights, up to 2 feet tall, with heads up to 7 inches wide.
A bit quirky but totally cute, the ruffled, often semidouble flowers of Viola Angel Amber Kiss are very un-viola-like. Ruddy orange with a yellow center and rose-colored reverse on the wings. Each flower seems to have its own personality. Plants are 6 to 8 inches across; flowers are about an inch wide.
Hot plus cool equals a jazzy ornamental pepper that’s not pungent, so it’s safe to grow around kids. Indoors it makes a wild “hairdo,” spring through Christmas, of twisty narrow peppers in ivory, yellow, orange and red. Also look for child-friendly ‘Chilly Chili’.
The warm sunset tones of Angel Terracotta glow in the garden, with a bright-orange face peering from amber-toned petals. Nice in, well, a terra-cotta pot, or paired with tawny plants like Carex testacea, Heuchera 'Amber Waves' or 'Rustic Orange' coleus. Six to 8 inches tall and wide, with quarter-size flowers.
In a crazy-bold color combination, purple pairs with deep russet in Velour Blue Bronze. Bronze tones are darker in the fall, brighter in the spring. A very hot color match with 'Eye of the Tiger' Dutch iris or 'Princess Irene' tulip. Neat mounds of foliage, 6 to 8 inches tall and wide, covered with 1-inch flowers.
A member of the very popular, many-colored Sorbet series from grower PanAmerican Seed Co., Sorbet Black Duet is a sweet little bicolor, with a bright-purple face and velvety dark-plum wings. Sorbets are early to flower after winter has passed and continue through late spring. Plants are 6 inches high and wide; flowers are about an inch across.