Purple passion

Two award-winning new flowers with exceptional color
Julie Chai

Every year, All-America Selections recognizes outstanding new plants that have performed well in trial gardens around the country. During Sunset's tests of the 2006 winners last summer in Menlo Park, California, two purple beauties stood out.

Nicotiana 'Perfume Deep Purple' bears violet blooms ― a real color breakthrough (most nicotianas have pale flowers). Plants reach about 1½ feet tall in full sun.

Salvia farinacea 'Evolution' pumps out 5- to 7-inch spikes of rich purple blooms with white centers all summer; bees and butterflies love it. The plants grow to about 2 feet and thrive in containers.

Both plants are available at many nurseries; purchase seeds from Park Seed (800/845-3369). Visit www.all-americaselections.org for a complete listing of AAS winners.