Our Garden Editor offers tips and ideas for you.
Dragon Wing Begonia
Credit: Ralph Anderson, William Dickey

Count On These Blooms
Pick these petals for easy summer color in borders, pots, and hanging baskets. In areas with morning sun and light afternoon shade, use ‘Dragon Wing' begonias (pictured)―they just love to flower. Fanfare impatiens in bright hues will fill your garden with color. Try Catalina or Summer Wave torenias in partially shaded areas. In hot spots with lots of sun, ‘Mystic Spires Blue' salvia will give any garden a lift. Landmark and Lucky lantanas offer prolific blooms, and don't forget ‘New Gold' lantana―a favorite. Use Cora vincas for masses of reliable blossoms. You also can't miss with Profusion zinnias and Samba or Yubi portulacas. That's it: You are now ready to get out and grow!

Love Purple?
Japanese maples offer graceful foliage to enhance any garden. Those with purple or purplish-red leaves include ‘Atropurpureum,' ‘Bloodgood,' ‘Crimson Queen,' ‘Emperor I,' ‘Garnet,' ‘Inaba-shidare,' ‘Red Dragon,' and ‘Tamukeyama.'

Gift Hydrangeas
You and the people you love can enjoy the blooms of French hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) inside easily for three to four weeks. Care is simple. Place in a cool room with bright, indirect light. Water regularly. (Check every other day). Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Do not let plants sit in saucers of water.

Buy a Good Hose
Life is too short to spend your days untangling a kinked hose. Spend a little extra money up front and save time later. Rubber hoses and ones reinforced with rubber are more durable and kink less. Do you own a twisted hose? Add a kink protector―$5 from your hardware store―to your hose bib. A 50-foot-long hose (longer than a school bus) will reach most of your watering needs. Love color? Check out the hoses at Gardener's Supply (www.gardeners.com). They cost more but will brighten any garden.

Dogwood Trees
The blossoms of flowering dogwoods dress up the South with spring blooms, crimson fall color, and bright red winter berries. The trees prefer moist, acid, well-drained soil with lots of organic matter such as peat. Select anthracnose-resistant selections such as ‘Junior Miss' and ‘Appalachian Spring.' They bloom best in light shade but can take more sun with extra mulch and moisture.

Once these dependable bulbs have finished blooming, you may want to cut them back to clean up the look of your flowerbeds―but wait! Bulbs use these leaves to transform energy from the sun for next year's flowers. Leave them alone until their foliage turns yellow and begins to wither. Then you can just pull the dried leaves away with your hands.