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Late-Summer Color for the Garden

Late summer can mean dog days in the garden as the bright color palettes of spring and early summer slowly fade. To lift your garden out of the doldrums, consider some of these saving graces.

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Colorful Garden Coleus

A steady stream of new cultivars has given this old standby annual a whole new dazzle. The colors are more intense, the color combos more numerous and some — the "sun coleus" — can stand up to full sun. Plus, most of the new ones don't bloom, so you don't have to worry about constant deadheading. Planted in masses, these globs of vibrant color will carry your garden through from spring till frost.

If you're lucky, you may be able to find them in containers at your garden center. If not — or if the weather or climate won't let you plant now — put these on your shopping list for the next growing season.

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Alternanthera "Purple Knight"

Stunning, lush, easy, vigorous — all describe this foliage plant that puts on a show of rich dark-purple foliage from late spring to frost. It's an annual that's very easy to grow and tough enough to handle rough weather and the summers of subtropical climates. The plant can reach 1 1/2 to almost 3 feet high and almost as wide.

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Red Pineapple Sage

The fire-engine-red flowers of pineapple sage, a tender perennial in USDA Zone 7, start in earnest in late summer. The common scarlet sage (S. splendens), an annual that blooms from spring to frost, also comes in a host of other colors, including cream, pink, orange, salmon, purple and bicolor.

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Scabiosa Flower

The pincushion flower, so named because the stamens stand above the petals, blooms from late spring to frost. 'Butterfly Blue' and 'Pink Mist' are favorite renditions, as is the prolific bloomer 'Samantha's Pink'. Perennial, hardy to USDA Zone 4

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