I Love This Plant

I Love This Plant

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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.
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
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. 

Often called pork and beans or jellybean plant, Sedum x rubrotinctum is a 6- to 8-inch low-mounding groundcover with fat little leaves that go from bright green to red. Suzman calls it “very easy and reliable.” The glowing hues of Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ have made it a must-have for containers and perennial borders, with needlelike chartreuse to bright-gold leaves usually tipped with orange. greatgardenplants.com

For unusual muted shades, landscape designer Stephen Suzman likes to use Echeveria ‘Afterglow’ (powdery pinkish lavender) and E. ‘Perle von Nürnberg’, pictured (grayish brown with a pinkish mauve tinge). Both form rosettes of overlapping leaves, 1 foot across for ‘Afterglow’, 5 to 6 inches for ‘Perle von Nürnberg’. provenwinners.com

With commentary by Oehme, van Sweden principal Eric Groft. 

A long bloomer, from midsummer through September, 2- to 3-foot Agastache ‘Black Adder’ “has the always-pleasant lavender-purple color that goes so well ‘out East.’” A magnet for butterflies and other nectar-seeking insects, the foliage and flowers also release a minty fragrance when brushed against.

Solenostemon 'Chocolate Mint' is a rich new coleus with mahogany velvet leaves edged in chartreuse.
With commentary by Oehme, van Sweden principal Eric Groft. 

Named for its graceful clumps of narrow foliage and nodding bottlebrush-like flowers, Pennisetum alopecuroides is “a true four-season grass that brings the feeling of the waterfront right into the garden. It catches the wind and nods its foxtail flowerheads into pools seemingly for a drink.”

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