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Flat-topped corymbs of small, daisy-like flowers in colors of salmon-peach to yellow-orange are borne simultaneously on one plant up to 2 feet tall and wide. Flowers are complemented by silvery-green, finely-textured foliage.
This tall, upright perennial has single flowers of various colors that grow along a spike. It blooms in early summer and midsummer.
'October Skies' is a dwarf aster that is low to the ground and mounding. It flowers in the fall when most other plants have finished for the season, covering itself with hundreds of dark sky-blue flowers.
Clematis integrifolia is no longer only blue. This selection produces progeny with pink, white, and lavender blooms from midspring until late summer. The flowers are followed by attractive seed heads in fall. It has a compact, herbaceous form and grows to just 10 to 14 inches tall.
Yellow whitlow grass is a small, semi-evergreen perennial perfect for growing in a trough, rock wall, or xeric bed. It grows to only 4 inches high and twice as wide. This delightful, drought-tolerant miniature has spiny rosettes of lustrous green leaves through the winter and cheerful yellow flowers in early spring.
These compact tufts of 8-inch-long powder-blue leaves are well suited for edging and naturalizing in the rock garden.
Bold, large, shield-shaped leaves with a deep green center and creamy-white margins turn white with age. Funnel-shaped mauve flowers borne on leafy scapes 32 inches long appear in midsummer.
A fast grower, 'Little Aurora' has cupped, puckered leaves and a metallic sheen, with soft-lavender flowers from late June into early July.
'Aureus' is a fast-growing, twining perennial with roughly hairy shoots and deeply lobed, maple-like leaves in a luminous, clear shade of yellow. Clusters of subtle, fragrant, greenish yellow flowers add texture in summer and mature to pendent, papery, cone-shaped fruits.
This spreading tree with a graceful habit bears glossy, dark green leaflets. Thick shoots grow quickly when young—and more slowly as the tree reaches maturity. In fall, foliage turns a handsome shade of yellow and the tree bears clusters of blue-black berries. Deeply corrugated, pale gray-brown bark is a striking feature; unfortunately, it doesn’t develop until the tree matures.
This Scabiosa cultivar is a compact perennial with gray-green leaves and a long bloom period featuring pretty lavender-blue flowers that look like pincushions surrounded by frilly petals. It's nice when used as edging or in large groups in borders or rock gardens.
'Goldrush' heralds the coming of fall with masses of tiny, yellow flowers for four weeks in August and September. Its compact size—about a foot tall—makes it a great candidate for a rock garden or border edge.
This evergreen shrub with finely textured sage green foliage forms a perfect, 3-foot-diameter, slow-growing globe, hence its name, Mr. Bowling Ball®.
In early- to mid-summer, this mat-forming thyme erupts with masses of 6-inch-high spikes covered with pink flowers. The light green, tiny foliage, hugging the ground in mats, has a pleasing lemon fragrance when crushed. This plant shines when spilling over stone walls or between the cracks in paving stones, where passersby can tread on the leaves and release the lemony scent.
This plant is an elegant addition to an herb or ornamental garden. It has lemon-scented green leaves edged in silver and produces lilac flowers in early summer.
'Annie Hall' forms a prostrate mat with small, narrow leaves and is covered with pale purple-pink flowers in late spring. Plants can grow to 10 inches tall and 18 inches wide.
One of the first thymes to flower each year, this charming and reliable cultivar bursts into bloom in early spring with unique salmon-pink flowers. Its fuzzy olive-green foliage forms a mat 1 to 2 inches tall and 18 inches wide. It is one of the most tolerant of thymes of dry conditions, but grows robustly with plenty of water.
This named variety of the species has soft sulfur-yellow flowers up to 3 inches across. The spring blossoms sit 4-6 inches high, surrounded by wavy-edged, gray-green foliage that reaches 8-10 inches tall. Species tulips prefer sharp drainage and plenty of room to grow. Most do well in rock gardens, small displays, and containers.
This dense, mat-forming species has 3-inch-tall evergreen foliage with toothed gray leaves. Its saucer-shaped flowers are deep blue with white eyes, and they bloom from early spring to summer. It is drought tolerant and makes a good groundcover. In garden sites, it needs protection from winter moisture.
Like other creeping myrtles, 'Illumination' is a tough evergreen ground cover for shade that will grow in almost any soil. Its hallmark is its bright gold leaves that are edged with a border of irregular green. Periwinkle-blue flowers appear in spring. Use 'Illumination' as a shade ground cover or in hanging baskets. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
Stylish Shady Containers
Low light doesn't have to cramp your creativity or limit your plant choices
by Karen Chapman
Container Plantings in the Shade Yield a Spectacular Garden
You don't need a lot of sun or even access to the soil to have a lovely garden
by Gary Keim
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
Potting Soil Recipes
Cook up your own container mix that is suited to your plants
by Daryl Beyers
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