By I. M. Yaglom

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Hardy to Zone 4. 36″ tall × 12″ wide. Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta This longtime favorite plains biennial is fast growing and simple to start from seed.

Regarding this combination, Judith Phillips says, “I particularly enjoy the transitions through the seasons — when the germander first starts to bloom and well into summer, when the buckwheat is a mass of threadlike silver stems. It’s a nice contrast to both the germander and the cactus. Then the buckwheat and germander blooms contrast with the cactus fruit. Later in autumn, the buckwheat seed heads become a rusty orange. ” FIRE KINGS AND WHITE DRAGONS When I first stepped into the Smithsonian’s Ripley Garden, I was magnetically attracted to this central bed of orange, apricot, and blue.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Gardening is the most powerful sacrament that links mankind to the natural world. Only twelve thousand years ago humanity began to grow plants deliberately. Those first acts of gardening catapulted a million years’ worth of hunting-gathering into the vertiginous explosion of higher civilization. Each time you put a trowel in the fragrant earth, you recapitulate that bold and terrible act. — Panayoti Kelaidis Acknowledgments My most sincere thanks go out to the following, who graciously shared their time, gardens, and insights with me: Dan Benarcik at Chanticleer; Duncan Brine; Dave Buchanan; Karen Bussolini; Gloria Ciaccio at Chicago Botanic Garden; Stephanie Cohen; David Cristiani; Sharon Cybart at Olbrich Gardens; Neil Diboll; Janet Draper at the Smithsonian; Noel Gieleghem; Mary Lou Gross; Panayoti Kelaidis; Greg Foreman; Inta Krombolz; Longwood Gardens staff; Lynden B.

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