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Southeast: Fall's Carnival

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BY CAROL BISHOP MILLER / Huntsville, Alabama, Zone 7

With its delirious clash of colors, autumn is nature's Mardi Gras, the final, flamboyant fling before the austerity of winter settles in. In my garden, I do all I can to fuel the glad frenzy by juxtaposing late-flowering perennials whose colors resonate with mutually intensifying contrast.

Many salvias save their best effort for fall. Last October at the Huntsville Botanical Garden, I was smitten by the combination of pink-flowering Camellia sasanqua fronted by the fuzzy purple spires of Salvia leucantha. In my own front yard I've paired a buxom, pink-flowering C. sasanqua with navy-flowered S. guaranitica for a similar light/dark, warm/cool contrast. I am also partial to the fire-and-ice mix of scarlet-flowered S. greggii with the myriad little shaggy white daisies of Kalimeris pinnatifida.

My favorite salvia to pair with practically anything at the moment is