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Gentians are the inspiration for the name of a color: gentian blue. Their star-shape trumpet flowers are usually the deepest, richest blue with a touch of purple -- definitely in a color category all by themselves.

The plants are a varied group. White, red, and yellow types are also available. Some plant forms are low-growing alpine sorts, excellent for rock gardens, as well as some taller ones, suited to damp woodland sites. The spectacular flowers make a strong impact in rock gardens and borders alike.


Part Sun, Shade, Sun



Under 6 inches to 8 feet


6 inches to 2 feet wide

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Bottle gentian
Bottle gentian
Gentiana andrewsii carries pairs of dark green oblong leaves on stems that may reach 2 feet tall. The flowers are borne in clusters at the tops of the stems. They are bottle-shape, never open, and are mostly dark blue. Zones 3-7

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Basket-of-gold is one of those plants that loves to grow in the least likely of place -- cracks between paving stones, the edge of gravel paths and patios, rocky outcroppings, between the stacked stones of a retaining wall, and more. It loves a baked spot with excellent drainage but will struggle in hot, humid areas and tends not to do well in the South.But where it does well, it's a showstopper. It will reseed prolifically in little cracks, filling an area each spring with dazzling neon yellows. After it finishes blooming, the grayish-green foliage makes an attractive mat in the perennial garden.
This native perennial gets its name from the shape of its unusual flowers, which resemble the heads of snapping turtles. It's a good choice for heavy, wet soils and spreads to form dense colonies of upright stems bearing pink, rose, or white flowers from late summer into fall. It grows best in some shade, but tolerates full sun with adequate moisture.
Blue oat grass
Refined and elegant, blue oatgrass adapts easily and fits equally well in formal or informal gardens. Its mound of grassy gray-blue leaves arches gracefully throughout the season. In fall, panicles of brownish spikelets reach for the sky well above the foliage.

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