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    • Molly Reimer

      Such a beautiful flower! Love it!! The camellia is Alabama's state flower. Camellia, with its glossy evergreen leaves and large cupped flowers, blooms when few other plants do—in late winter to early spring. Plant partial-shade-loving camellias such as 'Rubescens Major,' shown here, in slightly acidic soil that drains well.

    • Melissa Gandy

      Camellia, my state flower to add to my southern flowers quarter sleeve

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    The perennial Allium works well with: • Bigleaf aster (Aster macrophyllus) • Star gentian (Gentiana cruciata) • Sage (Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna')

    Interplant bulbs with perennials: Tulips Work well with: • Crocosmia 'Lucifer' (Crocosmia 'Lucifer') • Meadow cranesbill (Geranium pratense 'Splish Splash') • Oriental lily 'Stargazer' (Lilium 'Stargazer')

    Windcliff Fragrant Pachysandra (Pachysandra axillaris 'Windcliff Fragrant') has lacy, uniquely scented flowers appear in early spring and repeat in autumn on this unusual form of the classic evergreen groundcover. Blooms early spring and in autumn. Full shade to partial sun; needs regular watering. Grows 4 to 6 inches tall in a spreading, dense carpet. Zones 6 to 9; Monrovia

    Early Bird Gold Gloriosa Daisy (Rudbeckia fulgida 'Early Bird Gold') blooms continuously from early summer to mid-fall; neaten by removing spent stems. Partial to full sun; regular watering in extreme heat, otherwise drought tolerant. Grows 18 to 24 inches tall and wide. Zones 4 to 10; Monrovia

    Every 80 to 100 years, this Queen of the Andes (Puya raimondii), found in Peru and Bolivia, puts on a show with a flower spike that reaches up to 30 feet high. The plant's stalk is actually made up of 30,000 individual smaller flowers, and, like most members of the bromeliad family, which also includes pineapples, Queen of the Andes dies after flowering.

    Japanese Anemone (Anemone Hupehensis var. Japonica) blooms last until the first frost, and the long stems look great lining walkways. 'Pamina' (shown) will spread dozens of semi-double rose-pink blossoms with yellow centers when planted in moist soil, and it grows up to 28 inches high. Partial shade; Zones 5–8

    Despite the name, century plant (agave americana )typically blooms sometime between year 10 and year 25. The succulent, native to Mexico, forms a rosette that can reach 10 feet wide, made up of thick, gray-green leaves tipped with spines. A single flower stalk grows from the base, reaching 30 feet high and blooming with greenish-yellow flowers before the plant dies.

    The aromatic blooms of Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) start in midsummer and last through midfall with little water or upkeep. The habit of 'Denim 'n Lace' (shown) is perkier than those of other Russian sages, making it a nice fit behind shorter plants in a border. This sage grows up to 32 inches high and wide. Full sun; Zones 4–9

    The massive white-and-purple trumpet-shaped flowers of the Giant Himalayan Lily (Cardiocrinum Giganteum) appear from the 10-foot-tall plant after about seven years. When not in bloom, the lily, which grows in the Himalayas, is a mass of glossy green leaves. The parent plant dies after flowering but leaves behind several smaller bulbs.

    This new Clematis cultivar (Sweet Summer Love) has fragrant dark-purple flowers from midsummer to early fall. Plant on a trellis or an arbor to give the vine space and it can fill up with over 2,000 flowers in a season and grow up to 12 feet high. Full sun to partial shade; Zones 4–9

    The beautiful show of 16-foot-tall flowers that rise above the talipot (Corypha umbraculifera) comes at a steep price. The tropical palm, found in Sri Lanka and India, can live up to 75 years, but it flowers just once in that time, and then dies. The sturdy leaves are used for fans or to make thatch roofing.

    Helen's Flower (Helenium Autumnale) blooms from early summer into fall on straight stems with flowers that are irresistible to bees and butterflies. The cultivar 'Salsa' (shown) has a chocolatey center and bright-red daisy-like petals around a ring of orange and grows up to 20 inches high and 24 inches wide. Full sun; Zones 3–9

    Berry Bright Saxifrage (Saxifraga fortunei 'Magenta') makes a splash well into the cold months. Blooms late fall to late winter. Grows 6 to 10 inches tall and 8 to 12 inches wide. Full to part shade; needs regular watering. Zones 6 to 9; Monrovia

    When the kurinji shrub (Strobilanthes kunthiana), native to southern India, blooms, it turns large swaths of hillside bluish purple. That happens about once every 12 years because the plant synchronizes its reproductive phase as a survival mechanism, flooding the area with new plants in order to outnumber predators, such as wildebeests.

    The smell emanating from the corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) has been described as resembling that of rotting meat. Fitting, as the scent attracts the carrion beetle, which is the plant's primary pollinator. The flower, native to the rain forests of central Sumatra, blooms once every 8 to 20 years, but when it does it opens up to 5 feet wide, or more, with a single dark-purple petal under a tall central stalk.

    Peachie's Pick Stokes' Aster (Stokesia laevis 'Peachie's Pick') performs well in containers or beds. Blooms summer to fall; clip spent blooms to promote continued flowering. Full sun; water regularly in extreme heat. Grows 12 to 18 inches tall and wide. Zones 5 to 9; Monrovia

    Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii) For 364 days of the year this member of the cactus family, found in areas of western Texas down to southern Arizona, resembles a dead bush. But for one night in the middle of summer it opens with trumpet-shaped, creamy-white flowers up to 8 inches wide.

    Run-of-the mill garden plants bloom predictably, but these unusual species take years to produce flowers. Worth the wait? You decide...

    Big Bang Cosmic Eye Tickseed (Coreopsis x 'Cosmic Eye') blooms summer through fall; use shears to remove old flowers for more blooms. Full sun; water regularly in extreme heat. Grows to 16 to 20 inches tall, 12 to 24 inches wide. Zones 5 to 10; Monrovia

    Kalm's St. John's Wort (Hypericum kalmianum) is a native North American shrub that survives both drought and flooding and is a colorful solution for a hellstrip rain garden. The species (shown) forms a dense pack of bluish foliage dotted with large clusters of feathery gold flowers in summer. The 'Blue Velvet' cultivar has deeper blue foliage. Grows up to 3 feet tall and wide. Zones 4–9.

    Named for its fuzzy blossoms, the groundcover Pussy-toes (Antennaria) forms a short mat of green leaves topped by white flowers from April through June. Grows up to 16 inches tall and 18 inches wide. A. dioica 'Rotes Wunder' (shown) is a red-blooming variety that prefers dry to medium-damp soil, full sun to partial shade. Zones 5–9.

    Lavender Cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) is an aromatic shrub with gray-green leaves and button-like yellow flowers, which can be cut once blooms fade for another flush of color. Not for humid climates—it thrives where summers are hot, dry, and sunny. Grows up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide, but some cultivars, like 'Small Ness' (shown), reach only 20 inches tall. Zones 6–9

    Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) has tiny white flowers that pop up among lush green leaves from April through May. It spreads by runners, so a planting strip with built-in edging is a perfect location. Good to use under trees—even black walnuts, where few groundcovers grow. Grows up to 12 inches tall and wide. Zones 4–8

    Beardtongue (Penstemon) offers great versatility: mat-forming P. caespitosu has lilac-like flowers over bright-green leaves that reach a few inches tall and wide. P. canescens (shown) blooms with pink to dark-violet tubular flowers and grows up to 3 feet tall and 1½ feet wide. Penstemons thrive in sun and do well with medium to dry soil. Zones 3–9, depending on the type

    Vanilla Strawberry (Hydrangea paniculata 'Renhy') has cone-shaped flowers that can show three colors at once during its bloom time, which can last into late fall. Vanilla Strawberry starts the season blooming creamy white before flower heads turn pink, then red or a darker burgundy. Grows up to 8 feet high and 5 feet wide. Zones 3-8; White Flower Farm