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Add a bolt of blue to your garden with this plant

WHY YOU SHOULD PLANT IT

If you love a clear cobalt blue in your blooms, this is a great choice. One of these plants has been in flower for weeks now in my garden, but one is definitely not enough: I would like to have many, many more of them. This gentian has shiny, dark-green leaves and sits perkily upright with those amazingly bright blue flowers at the end of each stem. The 10-centimetre blooms are radiant in late summer and well into autumn.

WHERE TO PLANT IT

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Gentiana "True Blue" does fairly well in mid-shade and thrives in bright sun; it puts up with almost any soil as long as it's well drained. The plant grows to 30 centimetres wide and 60 centimetres high (over a couple of years). And it spreads before it rises. If you deadhead it regularly, it will keep on blooming. In my garden, it has done well even in a summer of unusually high temperatures.

WHAT IT OFFERS

Some say it is resistant to deer and rabbits, but this is unproven, so you will have to experiment on your own. If you have doubts, put it in a container. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. And it's a good plant for a scree, rock or crevice garden. It also looks good in a border where a smashing mid-sized plant is required. Group several together to make a small mass of them for the best effect. You can't have too many of them.

SOURCE AND COST

Find it for $15 at specialty nurseries such as Lost Horizons (www.losthorizons.ca) in Acton, Ont.

Visit www.marjorieharris.com for more plant and gardening information.

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