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The Dog Days of August

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August 6, 2013
The dog days of August are often tough on summer color. But there are still some bedding plants options that provide a colorful "pop" even in the most oppressive summer heat. Today we're looking at a large mailbox garden that shows out with a lot of color. The first thing you notice about this bed is the height of the plantings. The tall wispy seed heads of the purple fountain grass give the whole bed a natural look along with the mixed Wave petunias flowing freeing over the sides of the whisky barrel planter. Tall flowers are also growing in abundance, with plenty of coneflowers and rudbeckia. This bed actually features three different varieties of rudbeckia, including Irish Eyes, which has a bright green center cone, the extra colorful Cherokee Sunset, with the rustic red and orange petals surrounding the chocolate brown cone, and Tiger Eye Gold which are yellow with a brown button center. There's even some diversity with the coneflowers, with the purple Bravado and White Swan having white petals. Closer to ground level is where the long-lasting color survives. These gorgeous Inca marigolds with their yellow and orange pompom-like flowers continue to pop right through the summer heat. New Look Celosia, with its bright red plumes and burgundy foliage, also gives summer-long color. A new tough flowering favorite of mine is purslane. This yellow Pazazz and tangerine Pazazz have a spreading habit providing a carpet of drought-resistant color. In the Deep South, we may wilt in the hot dog days of August, but that doesn't mean our flower beds have to. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

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