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Highbush blueberry provides four seasons of fanfare, starting with twisted, peeling stems in winter; profuse white or pink blossoms in spring; savory blue fruit in summer; and long-lasting foliage the color of a rich red wine in fall. The maroon to scarlet fall shades are effective for a solid month or more, as the leaves (especially in full sun) are reluctant to fall. The best fruit set occurs when you plant at least two cultivars that will bloom concurrently to ensure cross-pollination.
This attractive, easy-care, 6- to 8-inch semi-evergreen groundcover boasts leaves that emerge bright green, then darken with age, creating a two-toned effect. In mid- to late spring, distinctive white blooms dangle on wiry stems, resembling an umbrella blown inside-out by a sudden gust of wind. The flower's stamens jut forward like a beak.
This dwarf mullein is just 15 inches tall but it packs a big floral punch. In early spring, violet-purple flowers with dark purple anthers emerge unfazed by late frosts and continue into the summer.
This biennial or short-lived perennial has evergreen woolly leaves like silvery flannel that make sensuous-looking rosettes in the first year. In mid- to late summer of its second year, large sulfur-yellow blossoms open from the bottom up on flower stalks that reach up to 6 feet high. Blooming continues for many weeks. Verbascum bombyciferum has naturalized in regions of the U.S.
This is one of the few truly perennial species of mullein. Pale yellow blossoms with purple filaments bloom profusely on long flower stalks in mid- and late summer, reaching about 3 feet high. Individual flowers are short-lived but numerous, and flowering takes place over a long time. Verbascum chaixii's glossy, dark green rosettes are semi-evergreen.
This biennial or short-lived, semi-evergreen perennial forms rosettes of leaves densely covered with grayish-yellow hairs. In summer, its bright-yellow or occasionally white blossoms flower along erect, branching stalks up to 5 feet high. It has naturalized in regions of the U.S.
This biennial or short-lived perennial species is one of the earliest mulleins to bloom. Its showy blossoms of dark-purple, violet, pink, or white open along slender 3-foot spires for about two weeks in early summer. Its shiny dark green leaves are ground-hugging and evergreen. It has naturalized in some regions of the U.S.
This outstanding annual or perennial deserves its popularity. It makes an architectural statement with slender, willowy stems that stand up to 6 feet tall and do not need staking. It then branches out widely near the top where rich lilac-purple flower clusters stand alone, as if they are floating. This Verbena makes a great see-through plant.
This low-growing perennial produces long-lasting light pink blossoms with dark pink centers. It is an heirloom cultivar of the native species. Verbenas are excellent for annual borders, containers—especially hanging baskets—and some for the mixed herbaceous border.
This fine Veronica was the Perennial Plant of the Year in 1993. From early summer to frost this upright cultivar forms branched spikes (to 7 inches long) of dark violet-blue flowers. It has glossy and crinkled dark green leaves, and grows to less than 2 feet tall. It is a fine choice for adding long-season color to a mixed border.
'Georgia Blue' forms beautiful mats of purple-tinged leaves. In spring, this free-flowering groundcover boasts abundant iridescent blue flowers. It grows to about 9 inches high and a foot wide. It is a vigorous and easy-to-grow cultivar.
This tough, versatile plant requires little maintenance. 'Georgia Blue' is willing to grow in sunny or shady spots, puts up with excessive rain or drought conditions, and attracts butterflies with a low blanket of sky blue flowers from spring into summer. Small, dark green leaves turn glossy burgundy in winter. Use it in containers or rock walls, or as a companion groundcover to spring bulbs under trees.
This species has multiple 5- to 7-foot-tall, tapering spikes of pinkish-lavender flowers from summer to fall. They look like elegant, living candelabras and add a vertical accent to the back of a mixed border or wild garden.
This species has multiple tapering, soft spikes of white to pale pink or bluish purple flowers that look like elegant, living candelabras. The blooms reach 4 feet or more, adding a vertical accent to the back of a mixed border or wild garden from mid-summer to early autumn. Plants spread to about 3 feet.
This small deciduous shrub is covered in early spring with pink buds that burst open to reveal slightly fragrant, showy, flat-topped white flowers. Fleshy red fruit is borne in pendulous bunches in late August, darkening to all-black in October. Leaves fade to a dark maroon in the fall and winter months when planted in colder areas. Plants grow to about 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide. A cross between V. utile and V. × burkwoodii ‘Park Farm Hybrid’, this shrub is excellent as a foundation plant, as a specimen, in mass groupings, in a shrub border, or in containers. Evergreen to Zones 7 and 8.
This shrub has a compact, rounded form, growing 8-10 feet tall and wide. In early spring, it produces showy lipstick-red buds that open to white flowers. Once open, the flowers scent the air with their spicy, clove-like perfume for another two weeks. The glossy dark green foliage is handsome throughout the growing season and resistant to bacterial leaf spot and powdery mildew. Foliage turns orange-red in autumn.
This deciduous shrub with toothed, dark green leaves bears pink buds in late spring that open to white or pink-flushed flowers borne in domed clusters. The intoxicating fragrance is reminiscent of spice cake. The plant also has attractive red foliage and berries in the fall. It grows to about 6 feet tall and wide.
This woody, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub has a rounded shape and grows 5 to 9 feet tall and wide. It has toothed leaves and small, creamy white flowers in May to June that mature to bluish black spherical fruits.
This semi-evergreen or evergreen shrub has a rounded form. In late spring, it bears flower clusters—sometimes up to 8 inches wide—that start out chartreuse and turn pure white. Dark green leaves are semi-evergreen in southern states, where it can grow to 20 feet high and 15 feet wide.
This plant produces a myriad of tiny white flowers set in wide, stalked flower heads. The white flowers appear in early summer, then mature to egg-shaped berries that turn from green to creamy-pink, deepening throughout the summer and ending in a blue-black hue in autumn. Plants grow 12-15 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
Colorful Selections For Shade
With these striking plants, you'll never need to settle for a sea of green again
by Gene E. Bush
Forget the wallflower varieties - these 10 stars take center stage
by John O'Brien
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
10 Combinations for Shade
The secret is in using color to pump up the interest in low-light spots
by Inta Krombolz
Bringing Sun and Shade Together
Show off what these extremes have to offer, then unite them with some common ground
by Dan Johnson
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