When landscape designers at Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo, Washington, were looking for a tall, summer-blooming perennial to border a path, delphinium was an obvious candidate. But they wanted warmer flower colors, so they opted for an unsung perennial― Lobelia x speciosa. Their garden displays the Compliment series, whose flower spikes reach about 2½ feet tall and come in shades of pink, purple, red, and rose. It's edged by purple-flowered annual lobelia and set aflame with yellow Celosia plumosa.
This perennial form of lobelia grows in Sunset climate zones 2-9 and 14-17. A water-loving plant, it can thrive in damp parts of the garden. At Kiana Lodge, it's planted in raised beds to keep surrounding grass from invading. The beds also let gardeners concentrate extra water and fertilizer around the lobelias to keep them blooming as long as possible.
DESIGN: David Halsaver, Foxglove Greenhouses, Kingston, WA (360/297-0410)