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We have had some of the most wonderful days for gardening. If we have to be limited in what we can do, at least we got some spectacular weather to enjoy outside. I have been buying plants for weeks now, and finally got enough variety to plant all the containers on the deck. I love tropical hibiscus

and mandevilla,

so I of course had those, but I like to try some new things every year. Since my deck gets full sun now, I am looking for plants that can take the heat. Cuphea fits that nicely. Cuphea is a genus of plants that has quite a few new options. Many of you may remember the old Mexican heather,

well that is a cuphea. It is one of the most drought and heat tolerant plants out there, but it is not going to stop traffic with its tiny blooms. Vermillionaire

came out a few years ago, and is a replacement for the old-fashioned cigarette or cigar flower. I have it planted in the front beds and it is a hummingbird magnet. On the deck I added some of the Sriracha pink cupheas

with flowers about the size of a quarter. I also found a new variety called honeybells

which has small flowers but is supposed to be more a sprawler or spreader. I am using it as a spiller in one pot, so I will see how it does.

I also found a few new alternantheras (new to me at least). Red thread and Snowball.

Alternanthera you may know as Joseph's Coat. These are plants we grow for the foliage. I will see how they do. I also found a few Zahara double orange zinnias,

but haven't seen many Zahara's available yet--may still be too cool. I love their heat tolerance and vigor in the garden.

In addition to the hibiscus and mandevilla, I planted two tecoma's--one is commonly called Esperanza-- Tecoma stans

with bright yellow flowers all summer, and I am retrying Tecoma capensis or cape honeysuckle with orange blooms.

I have had it in the past and it didn't bloom as well for me as others. Since I now have full sun, I thought I would give it another chance.

My olive tree that I got last year overwintered just fine outside behind my shrubs this winter,

and is absolutely loaded with blooms.

Now I am waiting to see if I get any olives!

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