4 Easy-Care Flower Beds

Add color to your garden from spring to fall with our water-wise favorites

Lauren Dunec and Johanna Silver
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All-star perennials

Late-blooming coreopsis, echinacea, salvia, sedum, and yarrow add vibrant colors to borders from mid-summer into fall.

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Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’

Evergreen in zones 20-24. The graceful, tubular flowers of this low-water perennial attract pollinating insects and hummingbirds. Plant in full sun and prune back in early spring. Grows up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

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Echinacea purpurea ‘PowWow Wild Berry’

Deep berry-colored blossoms grow on long upright stems, making them ideal to cut for bouquets. Plant in full sun. Grows 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. Zones A2, A3; 1-24.

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Salvia ‘Sierra de San Antonio’

The slender stems of this rounded sage are flecked with pale yellow and pink flowers. Plant it in full sun and shape in spring, before new growth appears. Grows 2 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Zones 8–24.

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Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’

Flowers turn from dusty pink to bright red in fall. They’re especially pretty paired with Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’, a mounding grass. Grows 1 to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide, in full sun or part shade. Zones 1–10, 14–24.

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Tea garden

Purple-flowered Anise hyssop, berry-colored Bee balm, English lavender, and feathery white chamomile thrive planted together in a sunny, semicircular bed in the Sunset Test Garden. But this is more than just a summer flower garden—all of the plants can be snipped and steeped for refreshing herbal teas.

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Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum ‘Golden Jubilee’)

Purple flowers top chartreuse foliage of this stunning perennial. Both the anise-scented blossoms and leaves can be used in teas. Plants reach 3-4 feet tall and 2-feet wide and grow well with full sun and moderate water. Zones A3; 1-24.

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Bee balm (Monarda didyma)

Bright pink flowers attract bees and have a mild citrus flavor steeped in tea. The leaves can also be eaten and have a fragrance like a cross between basil and mint. Grows in a bushy form 2-4 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide and needs full sun and moderate water. Zones A2, A3; 1-11,14-17.

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Summer edibles

Chamomile, cosmos, coreopsis, and sunflowers planted in the summer edible bed in the Sunset Test Garden do double duty. The blooms add sunny colors to the bed and attract pollinators for a better veggie yield.

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Blooming raised bed

Blooming thyme and golden feverfew spill over the sides of this narrow raised bed below bright yellow coreopsis and trailing amaranth ‘Green Tails’. All thrive in full sun with low to moderate water.

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Coreopsis & chamomile

Edible German chamomile looks charming planted with yellow coreopsis. Both plants grow well in full sun and can be picked to add to bouquets.

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Cut flower garden

With a hot color palette of yellow, orange, and red, this cutting garden produces blooms for bouquets all summer. The mirrored half-moon-shaped planting beds (only one pictured) measure only 3 feet across and 11 feet long making them very manageable for maintenance.

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Hot colors

A combination of brilliant red ‘Mystic Desire’ dahlia, dark-centered yellow ‘Mystic Illusion’ dahlia, daisy-like golden ‘Oranges and Lemons’ gaillaridia, and velvety purple ‘Black’ scabiosa creates a sizzling arrangement. Cut flowers early in the morning or at twilight when temperatures are cool for longer-lasting bouquets.

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Dahlia ‘Mystic Desire’

Scarlet flowers top deep bronze foliage. The compact shape of the ‘Mystic’ series dahlias requires little to no staking. Grows 2-3 feet tall and wide and requires full sun and regular water. Zones 1-24.

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Black scabiosa (Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Black’)

Growing 2-3 feet tall and 1 foot wide, this scabiosa produces rich, velvety blooms on exceptionally long stems. Thrives in full sun and when given moderate water. Zones 1-24, H1, H2.