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Include the late-blooming Mexican sunflower to shift the garden from summer through autumn in grand style. The bold plants, available in many nurseries and home and garden centers, grow almost 6 feet tall. Fiery orange, 2-inch blossoms seem to illuminate everything around them.
Growing only about 18 inches tall, heliotrope is perfect for the front of the garden and grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. Consider growing heliotrope in a container or window box where it will be closer to your nose.
Although you can grow coleus from seed, the results are not predictable. When you find a coleus you particularly like, root cuttings in a glass of water to plant later in the garden. Coleus will grow in any well-drained soil. Keep them well-watered until the plants are established.
Like the closely-related poinsettia, snow on the mountain has "flowers" that actually are specialized leaves or bracts. The true flower is inconspicuous at the center of the variegated green-and-white bracts. Growing to 4 feet tall, snow on the mountain is well-suited to the middle of the garden.
Also known as tassel flower, this is a guaranteed showstopper in any garden. No shrinking violet, it grows 3 to 5 feet tall, spreads up to 2 feet across, and bears long, red-to-crimson-purple flower tassels. If the size of the plant doesn't grab your attention, the 2-foot-long panicles of flowers that resemble chenille will.
Give this vine a sunny place to twine and it will delight you with clusters of fragrant pale-purple to mauve blossoms, followed by flat, shiny purple beans that grow 4 x 6 inches long. And there is a bonus: Both the flowers and the beans are edible.
If you have little time in your day to enjoy your garden, you will appreciate night bloomers such as four o'clocks. The bushy 3- to 4-foot-tallplant will open its tubular 2-inch flowers in late afternoon to early evening, and fill the garden with sweet perfume. Each flower lasts but one night, but the plant blooms constantly from midsummer to frost. Flowers come in magenta, yellow, or white and in striped combinations.
The bushy Mexican zinnia is a welcome change from the typical zinnia that is gangly and prone to powdery mildew. Two outstanding varieties are "Orange Star" and "Star White." They grow about 10 inches high and spread to 12 inches wide. Their mounds of fine, almost needle-like leaves give rise to single, daisy-like blooms that resemble a demure coreopsis more than their larger double-flowered zinnia cousins.
The Plumosa types of celosia have flowers that look like clusters of feathered fans in bright colors -- red, hot pink, yellow, orange, and white -- as well as slightly muted tones. Plant seven or more cockscombs en masse to make a bold statement. The plants grow 8 inches wide by 20 inches high; they are effective near the front of the garden.