Like July fireworks, perennial borders burst into color in midsummer heat. Venture out in the cool morning hours to pick a bouquet of these cottage garden favorites that relish the long, sultry days. Mix and match for knockout displays, indoors or out.
Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) is a garden standard. Who doesn't love those cheery white flowers that are perfect for bouquets?
There are many Shasta daisy varieties available. 'Becky', one of the most common, won the 2003 Perennial Plant of the Year award for its flawless white blooms with buttery-yellow centers on 3-foot-tall stems. For smaller gardens, try 'Snowcap', a more compact variety, or frilly petaled 'Old Court'.
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It's tough to beat perennial salvia's performance in the garden. Offering a stunning display of blue, purple, pink, red, or white blooms, most salvias are exceptionally easy to grow and resist deer and rabbits.
Salvia 'Caradonna' or 'East Friesland' offer spiky texture and a royal blue-purple color. Their vibrant flowers are smashing in fresh and dried bouquets and are perfect for attacting butterflies.
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Yarrow (Achillea) is an all-around outstanding perennial. It offers attractive flowers in a wide range of colors (red, orange, yellow, white, pink), it holds up to heat and drought, butterflies love it, and deer and rabbits choose other morsels to eat. Yarrow is an ideal cut flower, as well.
Yarrow pairs well with just about anything. Red-flowering 'Pomegranate' and golden 'Coronation Gold' are butterfly magnets.
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Blanket flower (Gaillardia) offers nonstop flowers for months, withstanding the first fall frosts. This North American native holds up like a champ to heat and drought conditions and is barely bothered by deer and rabbits (though it's almost always visited by butterflies).
The hybrid 'Oranges and Lemons' is a favorite for summer. 'Mesa Yellow' offers clear golden-yellow blooms; 'Goblin' is a compact selection that has red flowers boldly marked with yellow.
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North American-native penstemons give an all-American display when you plant scarlet-red hybrids, such as 'Fireworks' or 'Rubycunda'. The blooms are guaranteed to entice hummingbirds. Note: Be sure to give penstemons good drainage; most sulk in clay and are short-lived. They perform better in hot, dry spots.