Perennials are the mainstay of the garden, coming back year after year. Every winter we refine our list, evaluating the plants in the nursery, keeping the best and adding new varieties. We love to hear from you about what has succeeded or failed in your own garden, and to hear about any plants that you would like to try that you don’t find in our catalog. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on our Facebook page: Perennial Favorites on Facebook
Yarrow lends bright colors and vertical accent to any landscape. Drought tolerant and not bothered by insects, disease, or deer, it’s a low-maintenance dream for the garden.
Achillea ‘Coronation Gold’ YARROW: Golden yellow flowers top this sturdy yarrow. Excellent for cut flowers, fresh or dried. 30″ tall. Grow it with any of the blue salvias and Tanacetum niveum for a classic and instant xeriscape. Zone 3.
Achillea millefolium ‘Royal Tapestry’ YARROW: Rich purple blooms with white center. Repeat blooms in late summer. When this blooms in the nursery, everyone wants it! Looks great with ‘Moonshine,’ described below. 2′ tall. Zone 4.
Achillea x ‘Butterscotch’ YARROW: Starts sort of orangey-yellow and fades to a beautiful butterscotch. Leaves are gray green and it has a very upright form. Nice one. 30″ tall. Zone 4.
Achillea x taygeta ‘Moonshine’ YARROW: A soft yellow flower over silver foliage. One of our favorites. 2′ tall. Zone 4.
Aegopodium podagraria variegata BISHOP’S WEED: A vigorous groundcover with variegated leaves and white flowers that look like a dwarf Queen Anne’s Lace. Useful in shade or part sun. Needs regular irrigation or leaf edges turn brown. 10″ tall. Zone 4.
Known by many common names, including hummingbird mint and wild hyssop, agastaches are the prime pollinator plants in our garden. They attract hummingbirds like almost no other plant, butterflies love them, and even bees give them a visit now and then. (In general, bee plants and hummingbird plants are not the same.)
Agastache ‘Black Adder’ ANISE HYSSOP: Smoky violet blue flowers from July to frost. 2′-3′ tall. This plant has overwintered for two years in a big whisky barrel, without any special winter protection. Of all the agastaches, this is the best one for attracting bees. If you think “bees like blue,” and “hummingbirds prefer red,” you won’t go wrong when planning your pollinator garden. Zone 5.
Agastache aurantiaca ‘Sunset Yellow’ HUMMINGBIRD MINT: More true yellow, this one is perfect in big pots to draw hummingbirds to your deck or patio. Deer resistant. Long blooming and compact. 15″ tall. Full sun. Zone 5.tee
Agastache cana WILD HYSSOP: This is the true species of A. cana, grown from seeds from Plants of the Southwest. There are so many blends and crosses of this genus, all wonderful, but it’s nice to have the original back! Rosy pink flowers, 3′ tall. Zone 4.
Agastache rupestris SUNSET HYSSOP: Peach-colored flowers with lavender calyx. The foliage smells like licorice and root beer. 1997 Plant Select. Zone 5.
Agastache rupestris ‘Joyful’ Huge pink blooms that attract hummingbirds! This is a cross of two species that occurred in the garden of Joy Andrews of Fort Collins. It does great in the garden and in a big whisky barrel, too. Blooms from July to October. Deer Resistant. 3′ tall. Zone 5.
Ajuga reptans atropurpurea The leaves are deep purple in cool spring temperatures, turning greener in the heat of summer and back to purple for the fall and winter. The deep violet flowers in May are a bonus to this fine groundcover. 3″ tall with 8″ spiked flowers. For sun or shade. Deer proof! Zone 3.
Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’: Dark purple, almost black leaves are a stunning contrast with other plants in the garden. Purple blooms in spring. For part shade. 8″ tall. Deer resistant. Zone 3.
Alcea rosea ‘Halo Cerise’ HOLLYHOCK: The Halo series of hollyhocks, developed by Thompson and Morgan seed company, involved many years of breeding and selecting varieties to accent the contrasting center eye, or “halo.” They are perennial, more rust resistant than the common ones, and they are gorgeous! 4-5′ tall. Low to moderate moisture. Zone 3.
Alchemilla mollis ‘Thriller’ LADY’S MANTLE: Graceful and delicate in appearance, yet tough and cold hardy in the garden. Wonderful for part shade. The foliage is velvety and fan-shaped. Lime-green and yellow clustered blooms. Great accent for fresh and dried flower bouquets. 18″ tall. Zone 4.
New for 2016! Anemone hybrida ‘Panima’: Rosy-red semi-double flowers in late summer. 30″ tall. For rich moist soil in partial shade to mostly shady. If you want late summer color in your shade garden, this is a great choice. Zone 4.
Anemone sylvestris SNOWDROP ANEMONE:An early blooming dwarf anemone with large, fragrant, snow white flowers. Sun or part shade. 12″tall. Blooms in spring and repeats in fall. A good plant for dry shade. Zone 4.
Antennaria dioica ‘Rubra’ PUSSYTOES: Silver foliage topped with wine-red flowers in spring. For sun to part shade. Drought tolerant. 4″ tall. Zone 3.
Anthemis marschalliana (biebersteiniana): A great little silver ground cover with yellow daisies. Grow it on a slope or sunny, rocky spot and it will shine like the sun. 6″ tall when blooming. Zone 4. Plant Select 2012!
We grow many different varieties of columbines, because they do so well in Colorado. They will thrive at high elevations and bloom profusely. If you live in the lower Arkansas Valley, you might want to think about growing Aquilegia chrysantha, it does much better than others in summer heat. For our mountain customers, nothing is better than Aquilegia caerulea and the many hybrids derived from it.
Aquilegia caerulea ROCKY MOUNTAIN COLUMBINE: Our unsurpassed state flower. These graceful plants with cerulean blue and white flowers are classic! 18″ tall. Zone 3.
Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Denver Gold’ COLUMBINE: A native to canyons and mountains of the Southwest, this columbine is taller than most and the big yellow flowers are strikingly beautiful. 3′ tall. Very long-lived and more tolerant of heat than some columbines. Zone 5.
Aquilegia ‘Clementine Salmon Rose’ COLUMBINE: With flowers that look more like a clematis than a typical columbine, this flower draws the eye of everyone who sees it. 18″ tall. Zone 4.
Aquilegia hybrida ‘Colorado Violet and White’ COLUMBINE: Also known as Remembrance Columbine, these large blooms on 2′ tall stems, are as graceful as a swan. Zone 3.
Aquilegia vulgaris’Winky Double Dark Blue and White’ COLUMBINE: Upward facing blooms of double white and blue flowers. I wish I had a picture, these are very showy, frilly, and different. Zone 3.
Aquilegia ‘Swan Pink and Yellow’ COLUMBINE: If you’ve been to our nursery in late May, you’ve seen the huge drifts of pink and yellow columbine that have seeded under the shade house bench. Now we finally have that combination available in pots! 28″ tall. Zone 3.
Artemisia frigida FRINGED SAGE: Colorado native with finely feathered foliage that stays low. Xeric. The flower spikes are about 12″ tall. Looks great in a prairie setting with blue grama grass and Indian paintbrush. Zone 3.
Asclepias tuberosa BUTTERFLY WEED: A favorite of the monarch butterfly, this bright orange flower does best in well-drained soil and full sun. Transplant with as little root disturbance as possible. Native to Colorado. 2′. (In the picture below, it’s in the bottom left corner.)
If you feel like your garden peaks in early summer and then looks bedraggled and boring, you need asters! And goldenrod…and sunflowers…but this is the section about asters!
Aster oblongifolius ‘Dream of Beauty: This is the star of the late summer xeriscape. Only one foot tall, it spreads to two feet wide, and is covered in August and September with clear pink flowers with orange centers. Native. Attracts butterflies. Zone 4.
Aster ‘Purple Dome’: This is one of the best asters for the garden, deep purple 2′ tall, with never a sign of the powdery mildew that plagues some asters. I just love it. Blooms August-Sept. Zone 4.
Aster ‘Bill’s Big Blue’: A great aster for late season color, this one blooms in September and October. Loved by butterflies and bees. Looks great with sunflowers and goldenrod. 4′ tall. Zone 4.
Baptisia ‘Starlite’s Child’ FALSE INDIGO:
Berlanderia lyrata CHOCOLATE FLOWER: A deer-resistant native wildflower that smells like chocolate….what more could you want? It’s a profuse bloomer, with showy red-centered, yellow daisies produced all summer. The green buds, picked before the flower blooms, make a great everlasting flower, too. 15″ tall 18″ wide. Very drought tolerant. Not always winter hardy in Rye, but returns by reseeding.
Callirhoe involucrata WINE CUPS: This member of the malva family is a long-blooming prairie native. The numerous burgundy red flowers are held 2″-3″ above the plant. Very drought tolerant. 1999 Plant Select. Zone 4.
Campanula rotundifolia HAIRBELLS: This is the native bluebell that you’ll find while hiking in the Colorado mountains. Circumpolar, so you will also find it in Europe. Hence its other common name, Bluebells of Scotland. 12” tall. Zone 3.
Indian paintbrush is not the easiest plant to grow, but it is incredibly showy and rewarding when you succeed. These natives are drought tolerant and attract hummingbirds.
Castilleja angustifolia NARROW-LEAF PAINTBRUSH: Purple to lavender pink flower spikes in spring. Plant in a meadow of native grasses for a beautiful prairie-scape. 14″ tall. Zone 4.
Castilleja chromosa DESERT PAINTBRUSH: Bright red flowers make this Colorado native glow in the sun. Can take hot, dry, sandy or clay conditions better than almost any paintbrush. 12″ tall. Zone 5.
Castilleja integra INDIAN PAINTBRUSH: Growing near Perennial Favorites nursery in Rye, this is the Indian Paintbrush I know the best. It has bright reddish-orange blooms in May and again in late summer if we get any rain in August. 10-12″ tall. Zone 4.
Centranthus ruber RED VALERIAN: Many carmine-colored blooms in early summer. 2′ tall. Can survive drought once established, does not like to be overwatered, especially in clay soil. The flowers are not fragrant despite all the books, magazines, and websites that claim they are. The ROOT is fragrant (or maybe stinky is a better word) it smells like the root of true valerian (Valeriana officinalis). Zone 4.
Cerastium tomentosum SNOW IN SUMMER: An 8″-10″ mat of silver foliage. White flowers blanket this groundcover May-June. When in bloom it’s a gorgeous thing; it then goes through a rough period and benefits from cutting back. If you trim it, it will regrow and look lovely the rest of the year. Zone 3.
Chrysanthemum rubellum ‘Clara Curtis HARDY MUM: Long-blooming hardy mum, starts in July and goes until frost. Single pink flowers with yellow centers. Deer resistant. 2′ tall. Zone 4.
Chrysanthemum rubellum ‘Mary Stoker’ HARDY MUM: Begins in late August or early September with light yellow single daisies that age to peach and then a darker gold. One of my favorite fall flowers. Deer resistant. Zone 4.
Crassula sarcocaulis ssp. rupicola This succulent looks like a bonsai tree, with the trunk growing thicker each year. Perfect in troughs, or any miniature garden setting. Has survived a number of winters in the Denver Botanic Gardens rock alpine garden. Does well as a houseplant, too, if you don’t trust it outside. 10″ tall. Zone 6.
These succulents do well in so many ways–in containers, in a rock garden, or edging a border. Deer usually leave them alone, but rabbits do like them, so be forewarned. Some are more drought tolerant than others, some more winter hardy. Check individual descriptions to find the perfect delosperma for your own garden.
Delosperma ‘Jewel of the Desert– Garnet’ ICEPLANT: Red flowers with a hot lavender-pink ring around the white eye. The flowers are about 1″ wide. Very popular, we sell out of this before all the other ice plants. Blooms all summer! 2″ tall, spreads to 10″ wide. Full sun. Zone 5.
Delosperma ‘John Proffit’ TABLE MOUNTAIN ICE PLANT: This iceplant is more compact than D. ‘Cooperi’ and it begins blooming earlier in the season. 3” tall x 18” wide. Zone 5 if kept dry in winter.
Delosperma ‘Lavender Ice’ ICE PLANT: Our own foundling, this plant has large lavender flowers with a darker lavender-blue ring at the center. Very distinctive and a vigorous ground cover. 3″ tall, spreading to 18″ wide. Plant Select 2009. Zone 5.
Delosperma ‘Lesotho Pink’ LESOTHO ICEPLANT: This selection is covered with deep pink blooms in spring. 1″ tall by 18″ wide. Very winter hardy. Zone 4.
Delosperma nubigenum YELLOW ICE PLANT: Yellow flowers. Very winter hardy. Blooms in May. Red foliage in fall and winter. Zone 4.
Delosperma ‘White Nugget’ ICEPLANT: Beautiful shiny white flowers in May. Found high in the Drakensberg Mountains. 1″ tall x 4″ wide. Zone 5.
New for 2016! Delphinium ‘New Millennium Dwarf Stars’: Another great plant for a cottage garden! This variety is only 2 1/2′ tall in bloom, so it isn’t as susceptible to wind damage as the older 4-5′ tall varieties. Good companion plants are shasta daisies, coreopsis, roses, or daylilies. They need six hours of sun a day (or more) and like to grow in a compost-enriched soil with weekly irrigation. Very winter hardy, these are great plants for the high elevation gardens in our region. Zone 3.
Dianthus arenarius SAND PINK: Fragrant white flowers top this compact dianthus. Drought tolerant. 10″ tall. Zone 4.
Dianthus ‘First Love’: Fragrant flowers, start white then change to pink and then dark rose pink. Extremely long blooming, from spring to fall. One of the easiest dianthus to grow, it flourishes from the mountains to the plains. 2001 Plant Select. Zone 3.
Dicentra spectabilis BLEEDING HEART:Old fashioned flower with dangling hearts in the spring. For sun to part shade. 2’ tall. Zone 4.
Digitalis obscura: FOXGLOVE: This Plant Select variety has flowers the color of a sunset: maroon flushed with gold and orange. This is not a woodland foxglove, it needs full sun to thrive. 18″ tall. Zone 5.
It took us forever to figure out how to grow purple coneflower in the garden. It likes a fairly rich garden soil, amended with compost, and consistent moisture. Think about how you would grow a healthy tomato plant, and give echinacea the same conditions. It’s a great plant for pollinators, it’s deer resistant, long-blooming, it’s winter hardy to at least 8000′–those are all wonderful things and we have to forgive it for not being drought tolerant, too!
Echinacea purpurea ‘Bravado’ PURPLE CONEFLOWER: A big, blooming, beauty of a coneflower! Pink flowers are 4″ wide and cover the 32″ tall plant. Loved by hummingbirds and butterflies and bees. Deer resistant. Zone 3.
Echinacea purpurea ‘Reta’s Best’ PURPLE CONE FLOWER: Reta Zane is famous in Southern Colorado for her garden filled with purple cone flower. She grows echinacea for the flowers, but also for the root, to make a medicinal tincture. She’s been saving seed for years, and this year she shared some with us. Colorado adapted, heat and cold tolerant, this is a tough and sturdy echinacea! Big bright blooms attract butterflies and hummingbirds. 2′-3′ tall. Zone 3.
Epimedium rubrum BARRENWORT: This epimedium is a cross between E. alpinum and E. grandiflorum. It grows 8-12″ tall and produces red flowers (red sepals and pale yellow petals)in spring. Leaves in spring have a red tinge, change to green in summer and turn back to an attractive reddish in fall. Can withstand drought once established. An excellent plant for that difficult part of the garden, dry shade! Zone 5.
Epimedium sulphureum BARRENWORT: This vigorous groundcover bears small two-toned yellow flowers. The evergreen foliage is heart-shaped and the green leaves often have a touch of red in early spring and fall. Can tolerate dry shade! Zone 5.
New for 2016! Eremurus isabellinus ‘Cleopatra’ FOXTAIL LILY: Dramatic orange spikes; blooms late spring or early summer; for full sun; 4′ tall. Eremurus has survived for many years at 7000′ near Rye. This is a plant that can take drought in the summer and not suffer. Zone 5.
New for 2016! Eryngium alpinum SEA HOLLY: Sea holly is a sort of holy grail for me, always sought, rarely acquired. Back when we did a lot of farmer’s markets, and sold cut flowers, I used Eryngium planum in bouquets. The flowers on it are not nearly as big and gorgeous as Eryngium alpinum. Sea holly is dramatic, unusual, deer resistant, and drought tolerant. Most of the varieties are not easy to germinate, though, and as far as I know they can’t be done from division or cuttings. This year we’re buying some bare root plants to offer in big pots. I’m going to get one for my own garden! For full sun. 2′ tall. Zone 4.
Euphorbia dulcis ‘Chameleon’ : Great foliage plant with reddish purple leaves in spring, topped by yellow flowers in early summer. Milky sap can cause skin irritation. Deer resistant. Can take drought and a hot sunny spot. Zone 4.
Fragaria frel ‘Pink Panda’ ORNAMENTAL STRAWBERRY: We grow a lot of strawberries for the kitchen garden, but this one is for use as a groundcover or a plant for a basket. The flowers are pink, the berries are edible, and sweet, but they’re small. Everblooming and evergreen! A really pretty plant, does well in sun or part shade. 6″ tall and spreading. Very winter hardy. Zone 3.
When someone asks for a perennial that blooms all summer, gaillardia is one of the first I recommend. Most perennials bloom 4-6 weeks every year, but gaillardias bloom for months! They start in June and keep going until hard frost. They love full sun, don’t need a lot of water once they’re established, and come in hot colors–reds, yellows, and oranges.
New for 2016! Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Sunset Celebration’ BLANKET FLOWER: This tough plant has red flowers for months and months! 16″ tall x 14″ wide. For full sun. Drought tolerant and deer resistant. Zone 3.
Gaillardia ‘Mesa Peach’ BLANKET FLOWER: These peachy colored daisies attract butterflies and bees. Gaillardias are native to Colorado. 18″ tall. Zone 4.
New for 2016! Gaillardia ‘Fanfare Citronella’ BLANKET FLOWER: Fantastic new variety with yellow petals and a red center. Gorgeous! Blooms over an exceptional long period. Great in the garden or in a container. Drought tolerant! 20″ tall x 16″ wide. Zone 4.
Galium odoratum SWEET WOODRUFF:A wonderful ground cover for a shady area; can tolerate moist or dry soils, and blooms profusely in May and June. One of the few groundcovers that succeeds under evergreen trees. Zone 4.
Gaura lindheimeri Siskyou Pink: Masses of butterfly-shaped pink and white flowers cover this plant all summer. Loves the heat. Good in the landscape and nice in big pots, too. 18″ tall. Not always winter hardy in Rye, still a very desirable plant, even if treated as an annual.
Geranium ‘Brookside’: This very cold hardy geranium is one of the very best blue-flowered selections. Blooms for a good solid two months in late spring and early summer, and will often bloom again in late summer if you cut it back in July. 18” tall. Zone 4.
Geranium sanguineum ‘Elke’ : The longest flowering perennial geranium! Bright pink flowers with white center bloom from spring to fall. Good red fall foliage, too. Will spread to 2′ wide. 10″ tall. Zone 4.
Glaucium aurantiacum HORNED POPPY:Orange flowers over silvery leaves. This poppy (the seed pod is horn-shaped) needs full sun. Very drought tolerant. Biennial. 2′ tall. Zone 4.
Bouteloua gracilis BLUE GRAMA: Blue grama grass is a native to Colorado from the prairie to the mountains. It does well as a lawn substitute or in a wildflower prairie meadow. Zone 4.
Bouteloua gracilis’Blonde Ambition’ BLUE GRAMA GRASS: Taller than the native blue grama with showier flowers, this is an accent plant, not a lawn grass. Lovely in late summer. Should be in every xeriscape! Plant Select 2011. Zone 4. Plant three or five for a drift of platinum seed heads!
Calamagrostis ‘Karl Forester’ FEATHER REED GRASS: Most popular of the ornamental grasses in Colorado, and for good reason. Sturdy, upright, attractive in all seasons. 4′ tall. Zone 4.
Erianthus ravennae HARDY PAMPAS GRASS: One of the most dramatic of the hardy grasses, plumes are held 10′ tall over lush green foliage. Good fall color. Zone 5.
Festuca idahoensis BLUE BUNCHGRASS: Blue-green fine textured foliage about one foot tall. Can be grown with blue grama grass in a prairie flower meadow. Drought tolerant. Zone 3.
Koeleria macrantha JUNE GRASS: This grass has lovely silver-green seedheads in early summer. The fine textured foliage is green-gray color. A very drought tolerant grass, blooming without fail in the drought here in Southern Colorado the last two years.
Muhlenbergia reverchonii ‘Autumn Embers’ SEEP MUHLY: This grass, native to Texas and Oklahoma, has reddish pink blooms in late summer. Very showy and hardy to zone 5. 2′ tall.
Schizachyrium scoparium LITTLE BLUESTEM–this grass is native over a wide area of the U.S., including Colorado. It changes from blue green in the summer to burgundy red in the fall; is drought tolerant and deer resistant, and hardy to Zone 4.
Sporobolus wrightii ‘Windbreaker’ GIANT SACATON: Excellent ornamental grass, withstands drought and heat. Very tall and showy. Can be used as a screen or hedge. 8′ tall x 6′ wide. Zone 5.
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Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant’ SUNROSE: Brilliant orange-red flowers cover this evergreen plant in June and July. Drought tolerant. Looks great with lavender and ornamental oregano. 10″ tall x 18″ wide. Zone 5.
Helianthemum nummularium ‘Single Mix’ SUNROSE: A seed grown strain with all sorts of possibilities. 12” tall x 15” wide. Hardier, perhaps, than some of the named cultivars. The foliage varies from gray-green to silver, the flowers are shades of pink, peach, yellow or white. Zone 5 (or colder?)
Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ SUNFLOWER: Lemon-yellow flowers on very tall stems. Long blooming, from July to September. This perennial is an excellent cut flower, you can fill your house with bouquets from it. I just love this plant, it looks so fresh and happy in the heat of summer. Irresistible to butterflies. Performs well in dry shade, too! 5′ tall. Zone 5.
Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Winter Sunshine’ LENTEN ROSE: Large, three inch wide outward-facing flowers are ivory with a hint of green, and have backs of ivory flushed with rose. As the flowers mature, they take on an even stronger rose-red color. Blooms start in late winter and continue through early spring. Evergreen. 12″ – 18″ tall. Zone 5.
Daylilies are very winter hardy and colorful. My favorites are the deeper reds and purples, but there are nice yellows and oranges, too. Super long-lived, there are clumps of daylilies that are over 30 years old here in the garden. They were growing near the old house when we moved here, and for all I know they were brought West with the pioneers.
Hemerocallis fulva COMMON DAYLILY: This orange daylily was here when we moved here in 1984. It had survived years of renters and neglect. It is quite tall and elegant, and yet the toughest and most vigorous daylily you will ever meet. 40″ tall. Blooms in July. Zone 3.
Hemerocallis ‘Bela Lugosi’ DAYLILY: The color of this one? “I vant to drink your blood” reddish-purple. 33″ tall. Blooms in mid-season for many weeks. Zone 3.
Hemerocallis ‘Chicago Fire’ DAYLILY: Flame red with slender yellow stripe. 3′ tall. Hummingbirds like to check this one out. Zone 3.
Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion’ DAYLILY: An heirloom, this fragrant, yellow daylily has been sold since 1925. Blooms July into the first of August. 3′ tall. Zone 3.
New for 2016! Hemerocallis ‘Ruby Stella’ DAYLILY: Some friends saw this in a garden in town and begged us to grow it. I drove by to see it and was convinced. A long bloom season, an excellent color–great plant! 18″ tall. Zone 3.
Hemerocallis ‘Strawberry Candy’ DAYLILY: Deep pink flowers with a darker pink eye zone. 26″ tall. Zone 3.
Heuchera ‘Rave On’ CORAL BELLS: Lots of small, bell shaped, electric pink flowers in spring. Silver leaves with green veins and red undersides. Leaves get 8″ tall, flowers bloom on 20″ tall stems. Great plant for part shade. Zone 4.
Heuchera rubescens var. versicolor CORAL BELLS: A coral bell native to dry, rocky areas of the West. Pink flowers. Attracts hummingbirds. Leaves only 4″ tall, flowers 18″ tall. Zone 4.
Hymenoxys scaposa: Numerous yellow daisies over a mound of narrow silver green foliage. Very heat and drought tolerant. 6″ tall by 6″ wide. For full sun. Zone 4.
Iris pumila: Dwarf bearded iris. Very cold hardy. Blooms in May. 10″ tall. Zone 4.