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Geranium (jer-aye'knee-um) - Cranesbill

Old fashioned, low growing perennial useful in the front of the border, the rock garden or as a ground cover. Saucer-shaped flowers appear throughout the summer, with the heaviest flush of bloom in late spring. Plants have neat mounds of beautiful, deeply divided foliage. Most Geraniums prefer light shade.

In full shade, they are less compact and bear fewer flowers. Moist soil, rich in organic matter promotes rapid growth. Some species have deep taproots which make them difficult to transplant once they are established. Geranium foliage turns a beautiful bright scarlet after the first hard frost. They make a fine edging for a bed of old fashioned roses.

Geranium cinereum 'Ballerina' - 4" Large lilac pink flowers with purple red centers all summer.

Geranium maculatum 'Chatto' - 10-12" Pink flowers in spring. Re-blooms in late summer. The earliest blooming Geranium.

Geranium sanguineum - 12-15" Magenta flowers in late spring. Tolerates heat and full sun. More adaptable to a wider range of growing conditions than other species. Combines well with Veronica spicata 'Red Fox' or other rosy colored spikes.

Geranium sanguineum 'Alpenglow' - 12" Electric purple flowers in late spring.

Geranium sanguineum lancastriense - 10-12" Pale pink flowers with dark pink veins. Flowering begins in late spring and continues sporadically throughout the summer.

Salvia (sal'vi-a) - Garden Sage

Low maintenance, long blooming perennial with aromatic foliage. Slender spikes of purple flowers have a very stiff and upright character. Plants thrive in full sun. They are drought tolerant, and do best in average to poor soil. Good drainage is required, particularly in winter. Salvia provides a dark accent in the garden, and is most effective when planted in groups of 3 or more. Removal of faded flower spikes encourages side branching and prolongs the season of bloom. It combines well with Achillea, Coreopsis, Delphinium, Digitalis, Gaillardia, Scabiosa and Oriental Poppies. Salvia makes an excellent underplanting for a bed of roses.

Scabiosa (skab-ee-o'sa) - Pincushion Flower

Frilly, old fashioned perennial which blooms for many months from spring until frost. Useful for the front of the border, in the cutting garden or as a specimen in the rock garden. It makes a nice edging plant for a path or border when planted in groups of three or more. Scabiosa needs full sun and good garden soil which is well drained, rich in organic matter, and slightly alkaline. A sprinkling of lime is beneficial. Since Scabiosa does best when temperatures stay under 85F, it may lose vigor in the heat of mid-summer. Flowering will resume in late summer (when temperatures cool off), and will continue until frost. A profusion of cushion shaped flowers are borne on long bare stems which rise 15" above the foliage. Even the unopened flower buds have an ornamental quality. Scabiosa makes a nice foreground planting for Asters, Chrysanthemums, Coreopsis, Phlox and Salvia. They are also effective when planted behind Dianthus or Artemesia 'Silver Mound'. Removing faded flowers will extend the season of bloom.
Scabiosa makes an excellent, long lasting cut flower.

NATIVE WILDFLOWERS

Growing wildflowers has become very popular over the past few years. That makes a lot of sense when you consider they're easy to grow, very tough and absolutely beautiful.

Since colonial times Americans have had a fascination for wildflowers, gathering seeds and planting them into their gardens. Back then either flowers came from Europe or they were gathered in woodlands and meadows. Some of the native favorites were and still are purple coneflower, Black-eyed Susans, coreopsis and blanket flowers.

However, not every wildflower you see growing along the roadside today is a native plant. Many of them such as Queen Anne's lace and Ox-eye daisy are European flowers brought here by the settlers.

Growing wildflowers is a lot more than just throwing a few seeds out on the ground. If you're interested in growing them there are a few things you may find helpful.

First, isolate a few varieties that do well in your area and then try to match the conditions you find them growing in. I seem to have more success when I choose a few varieties of wildflowers rather than buying a can of wildflower seed mix.

I prefer to plant most varieties in the fall. This allows the seeds to germinate and create small rosettes before winter, and then in the spring the plant emerges and flowers. To have this kind of bloom next year, it will be important for the flowers to complete their bloom cycle and set seed before they're cut.

But this summer, you should prepare the bed, digging and weeding out competing plants in preparation for a late summer, early fall seeding. And summer is also the time to observe native flowers in bloom and choose the varieties you would like to grow in your garden.