Use flowers to reflect your personal tastes in the garden

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The Superbell Mini petunia “Grape Punch" | PHOTO COURTESY PROVENWINNERS

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Want to clothe your yard in the latest summer fashions?

Flowers are a quick, easy and relatively inexpensive way. There are myriad choices, from the old stand-bys like petunias and marigolds to exotic combinations. Native plants boost the local environment and provide habitat, and a seasonal plan can ensure your garden ism appealing through the changing seasons.

With this in mind, growers and greenhouses are constantly changing and improving plant lines to expand their offerings and help homeowners sort through the long and growing list.

“There is always a demand for new varieties” said Brett Schaefer, garden center manager at Schaefer Greenhouse in Montgomery and the fourth generation in a business started in 1926.

Every year, Schaefer and his staff pick what they think people will like — and buy — for the coming year. Here is a rundown of Schaefer’s picks for the hottest new flowers for 2012.

Perennials

— Jack Frost brunnera. It loves shade, and has heart-shaped varietgated leaves and blue flowers.

— Mighty Pip astilbe. It grows to up to 50 inches, has dark green leaves and bright pink flowers.

— Blueberry Sundae, Cherries Jubilee, Dutch Chocolate and Lemon Meringue baptisia. These have bright colors and are very hardy.

— Centauria Black Sprite bachelor’s button. These have dark purple flowers that look almost black, and go well with Centauria Amethyst and Snow bachelor’s button.

— Heaven’s Gate coreopsis. The flowers are pink instead of the gold common to coreopsis.

— Firespinner delosperma. It has bright orange flowers with pink centers.

— Aurora Blue, Aurora Light Purple and Sweetheart delphiniums.

— Coconut Surprise and Sugarplum dianthus. These varieties are bred for enhanced fragrance as well as color. Coconut Surprise has white flowers with red centers, while Sugarplum has red and white double blooms.

—Hot Lave and Tangerine Dream Echinacea. These coneflowers have dark red and tangerine flowers, respectively, instead of the traditional blue/purple.

Annuals

— Super Bell mini petunias. These are available in cherry, grape, yellow chiffon, cherry star and a white flower with dark center called White Russian, and look good planted in a container with Raven sweet potato vine.

— Bermuda Beach petunia. This one looks nice in a hanging basket with blue lobelia and yellow chiffon Super Bell.

For more information, visit Schaefer Greenhouses at 120 S. Lake St. (Route 31), Montgomery, call (630) 896-1936, or visit online at www.schaefergreenhouses.com.