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This woody-stemmed perennial produces sticky spikes of deep violet or, rarely, white to pink flowers. It blooms from early summer to autumn; reblooming is most reliable if spent flowers are deadheaded promptly. It has wrinkled leaves and forms an upright clump 3 feet tall by 1 foot wide. This salvia is most noted for its many hybirds with S. nemerosa.
A familiar native shrub, American elderberry is commonly seen along streambanks and roadsides and in moist woodlands and thickets throughout eastern North America. It has pinnate leaves with toothed leaflets and small white flowers borne in large flattened clusters in summer. Purple-black, round fruit comes next, attracting wildlife to the garden. Elderberries typically grow to about 12 feet high, but they tolerate pruning to a smaller size. Fruit is edible when cooked.
This choice specimen has a graceful habit with finely divided golden foliage that emerges as bronze. It is less susceptible to sun scorch than the other gold varieties. It bears creamy white flowers that mature into red fruits.
Saruma henryi is as sublime as it is uncommon. Its velvety leaves and distinctively shaped, soft yellow flowers make it a superb specimen in a shady border, where it can contrast with more finely textured plants.
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.
Little bluestem is a tidy, finely textured clumping grass with a blue-green summer color. Its silvery seed heads rise to a height of nearly 2 feet in late summer and are at their best when backlit in the morning or afternoon sun. In fall, the grass turns a rosy rust color that lasts all winter.
'Postman's Pride' sedum is a wonderful dark-foliaged plant for sunny, dry locations. It has a semi-upright habit and produces masses of red to purple flowers from late summer through fall. The flowers attract honeybees and butterflies. Like other sedums, 'Postman's Pride' is useful in rock and xeriscape gardens because, once established, it thrives without irrigation except during severe droughts. Curious about the cultivar name? This plant was discovered by a Belgian postal carrier in his garden. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
This plant is as dependable and adaptable as they come. Its flowers bloom from August into November; they open pink and mature to a copper befitting of autumn. It is 2 feet tall and wide, with succulent stems and leaves. 'Autumn Joy' looks great with ornamental grasses.
This tough, drought-tolerant species has glossy deep green leaves and, in early summer, half-inch golden yellow flowers that open from pink buds. It grows to about 6 inches tall and a little wider and makes a good groundcover.
This variety is more compact than the species, and its leaves are variegated with creamy margins. In late spring to summer, its star-shaped yellow flowers open from pink buds and mature to crimson. It grows to just 4 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
An upright species to 18 inches tall and wide, this plant bears pink flowers in August that persist into fall. Thick, almost succulent leaves are bluish green. S. spectabile was crossed with S. telephium to create the very popular 'Autumn Joy.'
This choice cultivar boasts domed clusters of starry, pale-pink flowers with dark-tipped stamens. The foliage is medium blue-green, overlaid by tints of burgundy and stormy gray. The rich red stems reach up to 3 feet tall.
Hens & chicks are always a welcome sight, and this exciting 'Black' variety is a newer take on the old favorite.
This shade-loving perennial produces plumes of creamy white blossoms in spring, followed by mottled yellowish-green berries that turn to deep red. The fragrant, ivory white blossoms occur on the ends of arching branches, distinguishing them from true Solomon's seal (Polygonatum). The plant grows to 3 feet high and 2 feet wide.
In early autumn, this species produces elegant, wand-shaped flowerheads atop wiry stems with blue-green, linear leaves. It is found in open woods and along woodland edges, and prefers some shade. It responds well to rich soil, but can tolerate dry soil also.
'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 species is aptly named for its distinctive crooked stems that bend back and forth at 45° angles between nodes. It bears starry, medium-yellow flowers atop 1- to 3-foot tall stems.
This is the first goldenrod to bloom, featuring bright yellow, plume-like panicles in midsummer. It has dark green leaves along reddish stems, which form a vase-shaped clump when mature.
This is one of the smallest species of goldenrod, topping out at only 4 to 6 inches high in poor soils, and 2 feet high in fertile soils. It is considered a garden-worthy species, with gray-green leaves that form clumps and languid, one-sided yellow plumes. It is tolerant of both sandy and clay soils.
This lovely goldenrod has velvety leaves that are gray-green in summer and dusky rose in autumn. It has broad, flattened clusters of rich yellow flowers, which create a striking display on stems 2 to 5 feet tall.
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
PLANTING PLAN: A deer-resistant bed that shines in fall and winter
by Nancy Matthews
Q&A Economical edging for beds
by Kate Feely
Are Pressure Treated Woods Safe in Garden Beds?
by Phil Wood
4 Ways to Remove Sod
When starting a bed, choose the method that suits you best
by Steve Carroll
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