The big bloomers this week happen to be north American natives. Most are really tough and quite happy in the lean dry soil of my front garden. I don't limit myself to native plants, but I believe there are benefits to choosing plants that would normally grow in your area and support native insects.
The light green leaves of this agastache "golden jubilee" in front of the blue-green hosta and globe spruce really brighten up the bed. Below, the stokesia I bought last fall have doubled in size and attract a lot of bees. I tried winter-sowing stokesia last year but didn't have any luck. Now I think it might be worth trying again.
This little one is sidalcea malviflora "Rosanna". It winter-sowed nicely but didn't bloom the first year. I hope it fills out a little more next year.
Eastern prickly pear blooms don't last long but cactus adds a lot of interest. This fall I will try to extricate it from the iris clump so it is not as hard to weed around. Any paddles that fall off can be rooted to make more plants for sharing.
Above, the rudbeckia hirta "cherry brandy" I got at a swap survived the winter and is back for another year. I love this one and will need to find some seeds for next year in case we have a real winter.
Echinacea is one of the best known north american natives, and now they come in all sorts of colors. They don't bloom the first year for me when I start them from seed but it is worth the wait. I just stick them in a little "nursery bed" and ignore them until year two.
Below, "white swan" and "cheyenne spirit"