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‘Natural Companions': Botanical collages serve as DIY garden palette

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Ken Druse’s suggested plant combinations for a Southwest garden include this lineup that delivers winter blooms. The palette includes, clockwise starting with the long, horizontal serrated leaf: the blade-like foliage of Agave americana (specifically, a cultivar called Variegata); the leafy green foliage of Citrofortunella mitis (the cultivar Variegata); the chartreuse flowers of Euphorbia rigida; an orange-tinged aloe called Blue Elf; Lachenalia aloides, with yellow bell-shaped flowers; the spiked cactus Opuntia engelmannii; the pink-flowered Bryophyllum daigremontianum; and the yellow-flowered Cassia didymobotrya(Ellen Hoverkamp / “Natural Companions”)
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Picks for container plantings that play well together, clockwise from top: bold yellow flowers of Senna didymobotrya; the wispy Eupatorium capillifolium; a spear-like phormium leaf, set among the broad leaves and petite yellow blooms of Galphimia gracilis; the purplish leaves of the euphorbia Flame; the yellow flowers and bicolored leaves of a Lantana camara cultivar called Samantha; at bottom center, the small-leafed Lonicera nitida cultivar called Baggesen’s Gold; Allamanda cathartica, with yellow trumpet-shaped flowers; and the purple-blooming Globba winitii(Ellen Hoverkamp / “Natural Companions”)
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This garden palette centers on annuals and tender perennials, clockwise from top left: Verbena bonariensis, with purple flower heads; Lemon Star, a yellow-flowered cultivar of the vine Thunbergia alata; the long, tubular red blooms of Pentas lanceolata; Ammi majus, a large round flower head that will burst with small white blooms; the small red tassle-like blooms of Emilia coccinea; the appropriately named Lime Green, a cultivar of the five-pointed flower Nicotiana alata; the long, pointed, powder-blue petals of Laurentia axillaris (a cultivar called Starshine); a large, single purple flower of a lisianthus hybrid; the darker blue-purple clusters of Angelonia angustifolia (a cultivar called Angelface Blue); Lemon Gem, a yellow-flowered cultivar of Tagetes tenuifolia; above that, purple Cuphea hyssopifolia; an orange marigold hybrid; the peach-tinged petals of an impatiens cultivar called Seashell Yellow; along the bottom, Exacum affine, little purple flowers with yellow centers; at bottom left, purple Scaevola aemula; and Angelina White, a cultivar of Angelonia angustifolia.  (Ellen Hoverkamp / “Natural Companions”)
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A garden palette for coastal California includes the long leaves of phormium. They flank Druse’s other selections, at center from the top: an abutilon cultovar called Kristen’s Pink; a yellow abutilon called Fool’s Gold; a cultivar of Dodonea viscosa called Purpurea; the abutilon Seashell, in flower; the foliage of two types of coprosma, Roy’s Red and Pink Surprise; and a giant redwood cultivar called Hazel Smith. (Ellen Hoverkamp / “Natural Companions”)
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If fragrance is your thing, Druse suggests combining these plants, clockwise from top left: the white-flowered Phlox paniculata (the cultivar David); the purple flower of Passiflora alatocaerulea; the showy white flowers of Hosta plantaginea; below that, at right, the floral spires of Clethra alnifolia (the cultivar Rosea); below that, the white and soft purple flowers of dianthus hybrids; at bottom right, the foliage of Pelargonium citrosum (the cultivar Mint Rose) and Geranium macrorrhizum; the purple flowers of Heliotropium arborescens; the white cluster of flowers of Abelia mosanensis, backed by the cream and green leaves of Daphne burkwoodii (the cultivar Briggs Moonlight); at bottom left, the soft pink flowers of Hydrangea arborescens (the cultivar Invincibelle Spirit); moving up, the giant leaf of Piper auritum; in front of the giant leaf, the dainty flowers of Vitex negundo (the cultivar Heterophylla). At the center: Pink Knockout roses and spires of Clethra alnifolia (the cultivar Creels Calico).  (Ellen Hoverkamp / “Natural Companions”)
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For an elegant and edible garden, Druse suggests, turn to members of the Solanaceae family, including the large green-red Japanese Black Trifele tomato, at left; Yellow Pear tomatoes, top left; purple Black Cherry tomatoes, top center; Juliette plum tomatoes, placed at three spots in the composition; and three types of eggplant: Italian Long, the pale Rosa Bianca and Ping Tung, a small Asian variety. (Ellen Hoverkamp / “Natural Companions”)
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A garden canvas of hardy succulents able to handle hot, dry Southern California, clockwise from top left: two types of Sedum telephium in bloom; the spiky paddles of Opuntia humifusa and Opuntia fragilis; a cultivar of Sedum spurium called Tricolor; the yellow-flowered Sedum kamtschaticum; to its left, Sedum lineare (the cultivar Variegatum), which almost looks like a light-hued rosemary; across the bottom, the red-edged foliage of more Sedum spurium; the chartreuse groundcover Sedum makinoi (the cultivar Ogon); the rosette of a sempervivum hybrid; and a spiral-shaped Euphorbia myrsinites(Ellen Hoverkamp / “Natural Companions”)
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For a tropical effect, Druse suggested this palette of plants, all with variegated foliage: At the center of the composition lies wide canna leaves, a cultivar called Pink Sunburst. Above, the twin spires of orange-red flowers are kniphofia hybrids (better known as red hot poker), and the adjacent yellow flower is from the canna Panache. The long, thin, maroon leaf in the background is from the cordyline cultivar Festival Grass; the long green leaves and white flowers are from the Yucca filamentosa cultivar Color Guard. The tubular red flowers at right are aloe. The bright foliage at bottom right is a trachelospermum cultivar called Ogon Nishiki; the green foliage with white edges is Coprosma kirkii (the Variegata cultivar). (Ellen Hoverkamp / “Natural Companions”)
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Sunflower City? Druse suggests an array of annual sunflowers as a design theme. (Ellen Hoverkamp / “Natural Companions”)
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Tropical plants for summer gardens, clockwise from top left: the vine-like light-green foliage of Jasminum officinalis (the cultivar Fiona Sunrise) sits atop the broad leaves of Musa acuminate var. sumatrana and Colocasia esculenta (the cultivar Illustris). The little yellow flowers are a cestrum cultivar called Orange Peel. The maroon foliage is from Hibiscus acetosella, the orange flower at top right is a hedychium cultivar called Tara. Below, the purple flower is Tibouchina urvilleana, the five-petaled red flower is a mandevilla cultivar called Sun Parasol Crimson, and the circular red flower is an abutilon hybrid called Voodoo. The green-on-green patterned leaves below are Acalphya wilkesiana (the cultivar Kona Coast). The purple-edged foliage below that is from the begonia Fireworks. The yellow-edged foliage at bottom right is Euphorbia x martinii (the cultivar Ascot Rainbow), overlapped with the foliage of the impatiens Applause Orange Blaze. At bottom left: the spotted leaf of the begonia Little Brother Montgomery and the foliage of Alternanthera ficoidea. The large red and white bloom is the passionflower Lady Margaret, and the small pink flower is anisodontea. Behind those flowers is the leaf of Solenostemon scutellarioides (the cultivar Electric Lime) and the giant leaf of the canna Tropicana. The spire with the little star-shaped flowers is Bulbine frutescens. At the center: blue Plumbago auriculata(Ellen Hoverkamp / “Natural Companions”)
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