After the whites, pinks and pastel purples of spring, the gardens are now hot with summer color, leading to bouquets such as this:
I've had a long love affair with Echinacea, and my new flower crush is definitely Hot Papaya, a double coneflower in the most unbelievably vibrant orange you've ever seen. These pictures don't do them a lick of justice. The flowers last a long time: these have been in the garden 2 weeks with the same blooms that came home from nursery. They are a fantastic player.
I have a stand of them right outside my dining room windows, next to a clump of not-yet-bloomed Black-Eyed Susans, and a mess of Drumstick alliums. These alliums bloom much later in the season than their spring counterparts, in a vivid red-purple.
At the base of the Echinacea is some Mirabilis, or Four O'Clocks (so called because the flowers don't open until mid-afternoon). This kind is called "Limelight"—it has chartreuse leaves and bright magenta flowers. I grew them from seed two years ago and they have re-populated themselves like crazy. Every year seedlings show up and I just move them wherever I want that hit of lime-green foliage.
Hot Papaya is dynamite with any purple spiky flower, like salvia or, pictured here, Veronica.
The orange pompoms are also fantastic with any silver-foliage plant. I'm a big fan of eryngium, or sea holly. I grow Eryngium Giganticum, "Miss Wilmott's Ghost," which is a true silver that looks superb next to any orange or yellow flower. It's a little hard to obtain and establish, but once you have it going, it will reseed every year.
This clump of coneflowers grows with Monarda "Raspberry Wine".
Below is Echinacea "Mango Meadowbrite" at the foreground, and "Big Sky Sundown" at the rear Clumps of Nepeta (catmint) grow at the base of them, but it's been sheared down recently. It's resting.