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A classic plant for both herb gardens and borders, anise hyssop is composed of erect branches of mint-and-licorice-scented, medium green leaves ending in fuzzy spikes of small lavender flowers. The plant grows to 3 to 5 feet tall and 1 foot wide and reseeds freely. The flowers are edible and are charming crumbled into salads. The flowers are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
True to its name, sunset hyssop encapsulates a Western sunset in its flowers: bronze with hints of orange and yellow, and streaks of magenta and pink along the margins. More and more flowers emerge as summer progresses. The plant blooms heavily in August, and continues into autumn.
There are many cultivars available of this fast-growing annual. They are best used as bedding, edging, or container plants. Panicles of blue, pink, purple, or white flowerheads arise from oval, downy leaves in midsummer and continue until frost. They have a soft, fuzzy appearance and attract butterflies.
In summer, this plant bears large rounded flower heads up to 4 inches across with a multitude of star-shaped lilac-pink flowers.
Aucuba are grown for their bold foliage, autumn fruit, and adaptability to shade, dry soil, pollution, and coastal conditions. A. japonica is a rounded, evergreen shrub with small, reddish purple flowers in spring, and red berries (on female plants) in fall. It grows to about 10 feet tall and wide. 'Crotonifolia' has leaves that look like they were speckled with yellow paint. 'Gold Dust' is female with heavy yellow speckling. 'Mr. Goldstrike' is male, more upright, and has gold-splashed leaves. Use as a hedge or specimen, in a container outdoors, or as an imposing houseplant.
This plant produces distinct, 2-inch blossoms primarily in rich blue (but also in shades of purple and white), with dark eyes smudged white. It is suitable for sun and partial shade.
Lesser calamint produces fine, upright stems which are covered with small, shiny, dark green leaves, forming a little bush from 12 to 18 inches tall, and twice as wide. In late August, it produces a cloud of infinitesimal pale lavender flowers that continue blooming for up to six weeks. As the days become cooler, the color of the tiny, lipped blossoms deepens.
Although it produces small, lavender-pink flowers in spring, this plant is known mainly for its violet to magenta berries, which start appearing in October. The berries, massed in tight bunches that encircle the branches, are vivid against deep-green leaves.
Cannas bear broad, smooth paddle-like leaves reminiscent of banana plants. The oversize leaves make it easy to create dramatic combinations with other, more finely textured plants. Each stout, fleshy stem is topped with attractive spires of brightly colored flowers. Cultivars vary widely in height, foliage, and bloom.
This pepper boasts the most dramatically deep purple-black leaves and fruit imaginable. The vigorous, bushy plants grow to 18 inches tall and almost as wide. Flowers are lilac, and dark black peppers emerge in fall.
Best used as a foliage plant, this plant's intricately cut, frosty-silver leaves produce a large, elegant arching mound. It also bears pale lavender-blue pin-cushion flowers on lanky 30-inch stems in late spring.
This bold-colored cuphea is a compact, mounding subshrub covered with dark-centered, cherry red blooms centered with a deep purple throat and slightly ruffled petal edges. Flowers are larger than those of the species. This sun-loving plant can reach up to 3 feet in height and width.
This species boasts maroon-speckled stems and green flowers with maroon margins. The flowers occur on thick, solitary stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tightly-clung florets, which are crowned by tufts of green bracts. As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples.
This species boasts stems and undersides of leaves with maroon spotting, and white flowers tinged with maroon. The flowers form on 24-inch-long, thick stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tightly-clung florets, which are crowned by tufts of green bracts. As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples.
This outstanding cultivar boasts dark burgundy leaves that slowly change to olive green, and then revert back dramatically as the flowers fade. The flowers form on 20- to 30-inch stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tight, smokey pink florets, which are crowned by tufts of purple bracts. As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples.
This vigorous perennial climber bears clusters of plum-colored flower buds that open into fragrant, pinky-purple blossoms. They age to lilac and white, giving older flowers a two-toned effect. Blooms mature to glossy, burgundy bean pods that remain colorful for several weeks.
'Silver Dragon' lilyturf features thick, tufted evergreen clumps of linear silver and white leaves with a shimmering silver stripe running down the arching blades. Dense spikes of violet-mauve flowers are borne on purple-green stems in autumn, maturing to black berries.
Lilyturf is a great choice for problem sites, such as the dry shade under a tree canopy. 'Variegata' is a vibrant, grass-like plant with green foliage, striped with cream. Leaves are wider and more blunt at their tip than grasses, and in warmer climates, the foliage persists through the winter. Clumps run from 1 to 1-1/2 feet tall and half again as wide. Spikes of small blue-violet flowers appear in late September and are followed by dark purple berries. -Lou Anella, Regional Picks: Southern Plains, Fine Gardening issue #127
This clumping, blue-green foliaged grass has amethyst-pink flowers that create fluffy, 8- to 12-inch-long plumes throughout the summer. Eventually, the flowers mature to the color of root beer foam. It is heat and drought tolerant, and it makes a fine annual in colder climates. Excellent drainage will help it thrive in humid summer climates. Not invasive from seed, ruby grass works great grown singly in pots or in groups.
In autumn, this unique specimen creates a spectacular, billowy inflorescence of massed, vibrant pink, airy flowers on 4-foot stems. It is noted for its tolerance to poorly drained soil. It is possibly hardy to Zone 6 with protection.
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