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Spidery, sweet scented crinum flowers dangle from a central stem, brightening late-summer gardens. The huge leafy plants spring from giant bulbs. The native Southern swamp lily depends on summer rain to set its perfumed flowers in motion. In colder climates, crinums are a botanical curiosity to show off on a summer patio, and then bring indoors to overwinter.
Often poking up through the last drifts of snow, crocuses are one of the opening acts of the spring-bulb show. Their large cup-shape blooms suddenly appearing in tufts of grasslike foliage seem magical. Plant crocuses in masses under trees and shrubs or in lawns for a dramatic early spring start in your garden. They thrive in any well-drained soil in full to partial sun.
Dress up an entry arbor or a pergola with vigorously climbing and flowering cross vine. As soon as its cheery, trumpet-shape blooms open, watch for hummingbirds -- they practically can't resist this vine. The tiny birds flock to the blooms for the nutrient-rich nectar. This semi-evergreen to evergreen vine attaches itself to most surfaces by tendrils and grows in many types of soil, from fast-draining sandy loam to clay. Prune cross vine in winter to control its vigorous spread.
Cross vine is native to areas of eastern and central North America and gets its name from the cross-shape markings in the stem.
Cuban oregano could be called an herbal smorgasbord. Other common names for it include Mexican mint, Spanish thyme, and Indian mint -- an indication of its complex flavor. Cuban oregano has fuzzy succulent leaves on a plant that grows 12-18 inches tall and wide. It doesn?t survive freezing temperatures, but it is easy to start from cuttings. Plants can be taken indoors over winter and treated as houseplants. Cuban oregano is not a true mint, but rather is more closely related to Swedish ivy.
Narcissus bulbocodium is also called hoop-petticoat daffodil because the cup, or corona, is much larger than the petals, so each flower appears to be mostly a cup with a fringe of petals surrounding it. The plant usually bears a single flower per stem. Native to western France, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, it grows best in areas that have warm, dry summers. It is a bit less cold-hardy than many of the larger hybrid daffodils. However, like its larger cousins, it is deer- and rabbit-resistant.
Cyclamineus daffodils received their name from their short-necked flowers, which are sharply angled toward the stem, resembling cyclamen blooms. Many of these daffodil varieties feature petals that flare back away from the cup, creating even greater similarity to cyclamen. Their flowers are usually borne singly on each stem and may be yellow or white with a cup of the same or a contrasting color.
These easy-care spring flowers are resistant to deer and rabbits, and grow best in dry summer conditions.
Double daffodils are the show-offs of the daffodil world. Not content with a single row of petals, they have multiple rings of petals or tufted cups full of frills. Flower colors may be yellow, white, peach, pink, bicolor, or mixed. Many are so packed with petals that they almost look like miniature peonies.
As with single daffodils, the plants are deer and rabbit resistant and easy to grow. Double varieties do have a drawback, however: The flowers are sometimes so heavy that the stems have difficulty holding the blooms upright. You may need to stake individual stems or harvest fallen flowers for bouquets.
Large-cup and trumpet daffodils are nearly no-fail spring bulbs. Deer and rabbits avoid them, and they bloom reliably each spring, often increasing in spread and amount of bloom from year to year. The varieties classified as large-cup or trumpet daffodils usually have one flower per stem, and the cup (or corona) is about one-third the length of the petals. In trumpet types, the cup is longer than the petals.
While this group has some of the largest daffodil varieties available, it also includes miniatures with large cups relative to petal length.
Poet's daffodils are also sometimes called poeticus or pheasant-eye daffodils. The latter designation derives from their red-rimmed yellow or green cups that resemble a pheasant's eye against the backdrop of the bulb's white petals. The flowers are borne one to a stem and are fragrant.
This division of daffodils, like all others, is resistant to deer and rabbit damage. The plants are drought-tolerant and naturalize readily.
Small-cup daffodils have all the same qualities of large-cup and trumpet daffodils, with the exception of the size of their cups. To be classified as a small-cup daffodil, the cup must be less than one-third the length of the petals.
Most small-cup daffodils bear only one flower per stem. Blooms may be yellow, white, pink, or bicolor, and some are fragrant. Daffodils make good cut flowers. Plants may be full-size or miniature. All varieties in this class are deer- and rabbit-resistant.
Split-cup daffodils are so named because varieties in this division have a central cup that's cut -- usually for more than half its length. They are sometimes called butterfly daffodils because the split sections of the cup fold back against the petals, resembling spread butterfly wings.
In other respects, split-cup daffodils resemble standard trumpet or large-cup daffodils. They bear one flower per stem and come in the full range of daffodil colors: white, yellow, pink, orange, and bicolor. Some varieties are fragrant, and all are resistant to deer and rabbit damage.
Tazetta daffodils are commonly called paperwhite narcissus. They have multiple blooms per stem, with as few as three or as many as 20. Most are extremely fragrant and may be forced to bloom indoors for a touch of spring in late winter. You can force the bulbs in pots or in pebbles with water.
Outdoors, plant paperwhite narcissus in well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. They are deer- and rabbit-resistant.
Triandrus daffodils usually have two or more flowers per stem. The petals on each flower flare backward and bend down at the neck. Most daffodils in this group are sweetly scented and appear in shades of white and yellow.
Long-lived triandrus daffodils are good for naturalizing in drought-prone areas and make excellent cut flowers. Deer and rabbits avoid eating them, and few other pests bother them.
A destination tree for your landscape, dawn redwood combines the coastal redwood's lofty magnificence and feathery branches with colorful shredding bark and needles that turn bronze in autumn before falling off. This fast-growing tree dates back 20 million years to prehistoric China. Give single trees plenty of space to mature, or shear them back in midsummer when planted as a hedge or screen.
Daylilies are so easy to grow you'll often find them growing in ditches and fields, escapees from gardens. And yet they look so delicate, producing glorious trumpet-shape blooms in myriad colors. In fact, there are some 50,000 named hybrid cultivars in a range of flower sizes (the minis are very popular), forms, and plant heights. Some are fragrant.
The flowers are borne on leafless stems. Although each bloom lasts but a single day, superior cultivars carry numerous buds on each scape so bloom time is long, especially if you deadhead daily. The strappy foliage may be evergreen or deciduous.
Shown above: 'Little Grapette' daylily
Free-blooming deadnettles enliven difficult places in sun or shade. From spring on, whorls of brightly colored two-lip flowers bloom abundantly on square stems. The triangular green leaves are splashed with silver, or they are silver-rimmed or veined with emerald. Deadnettles have unfairly gotten a bad name for being invasive and somewhat weedy, but they are easy to corral and should be cut back and deadheaded regularly. They're fine in partly shaded and shaded places where soil is well-drained but retains moisture.
A waterfall of white spring blossoms on cascading branches signals that deutzia is in bloom. Positioning this hardy shrub near a low wall or fence and allowing the branches of foamy flowers to spill over is the best way to showcase its late-spring beauty. The compact 'Nikko' is a dwarf slender deutzia cultivar that also boasts deep red fall color as well as spring blooms. Showy deutzia forms a large shrub up to 10 feet covered with large white flowers in spring. Hybrids between the two species don't grow quite as tall, but produce double pink flowers.
Dianthus: The quintessential cottage flower. Pinks are treasured for their grasslike blue-green foliage and abundant starry flowers, which are often spicily fragrant. Depending on the type of pink, dianthus flowers appear in spring or summer and tend to be pink, red, white, rose, or lavender, but come in nearly all shades except true blue. Dianthus plants range from tiny creeping groundcovers to 30-inch-tall cut flowers, which are a favorite with florists. Foliage is blue-green.
Shown above: 'Firewitch' dianthus
For versatility in the garden, it's hard to beat beautiful, easy-grows-it dill. This herb fills a planting area with a fountain of graceful, delicate foliage. Flat flower heads beckon butterflies, bees, and other good bugs. Snip tasty foliage to flavor home-cooked fare, from potatoes, to soups, to egg dishes. Save seeds for seasoning bread, stews, root vegetable dishes, and pickles. Dill thrives in dry, sunny spots, and plants self-seed to keep the crop coming year after year. To ensure a steady supply of foliage for snipping, sow seeds every four weeks during the growing season.
Green lacewings, an aphid predator, frequent dill plantings, making dill a great companion for roses and other aphid favorites. Black swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on dill. Look for black, green, and yellow striped caterpillars munching their way along stems.
An adaptable vine, Dutchman's pipe seems to thrive just about everywhere -- from sun to shade. It creates a rich curtain of big (to 10 inches wide), heart-shape leaves that usually hide the fragrant summertime flowers. The vine is native to areas of North America and it is a host plant for the pipevine swallowtail butterfly. It's rarely bothered by pests, making it an ideal choice for creating privacy.