Nothing chases the winter doldrums away like flowers. A bright bouquet on the kitchen counter, a sweet-scented flowering houseplant or a trip through a greenhouse to breathe in some moist, earth-scented air all seem to lighten the spirits, but planning ahead for next season’s flower garden is also cheering. There are some quirky new varieties on old cutting-garden favorites that caught my eye while looking through catalogs, all of them easy-to-grow annuals in Maine’s planting zone.

Calendulas are always a dependable choice — sometimes too dependable, as they can reseed themselves throughout the garden under the right circumstances — but the 2019 variety “Calexis Orange” has cactus-type flowers with quilled, rolled petals around a dark brown eye. This gives the blossoms a shaggy look. Calexis also comes in bright yellow.

For a different look in cosmos, another old favorite, try “Cup and Saucers Mix,” a new variety, which contains four-inch, teacup-shaped flowers with fused petals. A quarter of the seeds make up the saucers, which are standard-shaped, single-flowered cosmos in white, pink, and rose shades. The rest have fringed petals that are bonded together to form a cup, some with an extra set of decorative central petals. They’re almost poppy-like in shape, and very eye-catching.

For nasturtium lovers, there are several new offerings to choose from. “Phoenix” is the most exotic, with fanciful pointy petals that blaze in diverse shades of red, orange, gold and yellow. With zigzag-edged petals and flame-like accents, Phoenix’s flowers resemble nasturtiums featured in 19th-century botanical art. The soft green mounds of scalloped leaves reach a foot tall and spread to 14 inches, and, like most nasturtiums, they are long-blooming and easy to grow; they would be a great choice for hanging baskets and containers.

For a traditional nasturtium blossom but with new markings, there’s nasturtium “Orchid Flame.” When they first open, Orchid Flame’s flowers are bright yellow with red edges and orchid-like red splashes. As the flowers mature, the yellow changes to deeper red and burgundy tones. The final flower color will vary by temperature and intensity of light. The blooms in all their stages of color sit on top of their mounding, foot-tall plants. Another striking new offering is “Black Velvet,” with velvety, black-red blooms that float above dwarf, nine-inch mounds of lily pad-like foliage. Plant Black Velvet with a contrasting nasturtium color like Double Delight Cream or Salmon Mousse for a dramatic border.

Rudbeckias are always treasured in the cutting garden and in borders because they have such a long season of bloom and are long-lasting in bouquets. “Caramel Mixed” rudbeckias have both those attributes but come in an array of rose, copper and amber shades. The neatly uniform, fuzzy-leafed plants grow 20 inches tall. Also new is “Cherokee Sunset,” an All-American Selections winner with large, three- to four-inch double and semi-double flowers in shades of bronze, red, orange, yellow and mahogany, including some bicolor flowers. They’re very chrysanthemum-like in both form and color, with vigorous plants that reach two feet tall. Cherokee Sunset brightens all corners of the garden, in pots, borders, or mass plantings.

In the same bright shades of yellow, gold, mahogany and bronze is “Chim Chiminee” rudbeckia. Long quilled petals roll up on themselves, giving the blossoms a unique, fireworks-like look. Giant semi-double and single flowers can reach six inches across. The well-branched plants grow 24 to 30 inches tall, with strong stems for cutting. Chim Chiminee adds whimsy to large containers and garden beds with the added virtue of attracting butterflies and other pollinators.

Last year one of my favorite border plants was a tiny white zinnia, but its blossoms were so small they got lost in cut bouquets. I love zinnias of all shapes, sizes and colors, but lime green and white are especially nice to have for bouquets, to contrast with the brighter colors. “Zahara Double White” zinnia promises two- to three-inch flowers smothering mounds of 16- to 20-inch-tall plants like a blanket of snow all summer. A slight percentage of plants produce flowers blushed with pink. Zahara’s flowers are produced over a very long season, with remarkable resistance to hot weather, humidity, drought, leaf spot, and mildew. They also come in salmon and bright orange, for mounds of splashy color in the border.