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Serbian bellflowers have an easy, undemanding habit. Creating a stream of lavender blue, the 1-inch-diameter star-shaped blossoms bloom reliably from late spring to early fall. The foliage remains evergreen in mild winters and needs to be sheared only once in a while to keep its appearance tidy. 'Blue Waterfall' flows beautifully along bed edges and through rock gardens in full sun to partial shade.
Spotted bellflower has heart-shaped foliage on a creeping rhizome with tubular, bell-shaped creamy white to dusky pink flowers with red spots and hairs. This foot-tall bellflower is native to Siberia and Japan.
Trumpet creeper is a vigorous climber with clusters of trumpet-shaped orange to red flowers from late summer to autumn.
This vigorous 5- to 6-foot plant sports fascinating foliage colors. Spring leaves emerge an intense purple and are soon striped with green, yellow, pink, and red. Vivid orange flowers appear in summer on this quick multiplier.
Tropicanna Gold is perhaps the showiest of all of the variegated cannas and one of the best for hot, humid, sunny southern gardens. Favored for its bright green and yellow variegated foliage and deep tangerine flowers, Tropicanna Gold will grow at the edge of ponds in shallow water as well as in normal garden conditions. It is adaptable to heat and humidity. Protect in the northern part of its range, or lift tubers in fall where not hardy and store over winter.
Cut-leaved toothwort has sharply cut foliage and single white, lavender, or pink nodding flowers that bloom in early spring. Evergreen forms exist.
Two-foot-tall, stiff, orange-brown blades curve at the end like a shepherd’s staff. Burnished red-bronze foliage, which fades to flax at the tips, gives off a warm glow when backlit by the sun.
This sedge is one of the most adaptable of the ground-cover grasses. Its ability to look the same in sun or shade makes it a valuable asset in plantings that go in and out of full sun. Berkeley sedge is a good solution for areas under stress where lawn grasses often fail. The flowers are not particularly noteworthy.
This beautiful sedge's vivid foliage adds bright color to the garden. The yellow seems to glow in partial shade. Use this dramatic clump of foliage near water or in shallow water, or in another moist location.
'Ice Dance' is a dense, spreading sedge grown for its foliage. This sedge looks good year round, even in winter.The early-spring flowers are insignificant, but the white-edged leaves complement most other plants. Grow as a groundcover in woodland areas or in a shade garden. This sedge is evergreen in warm climates. -Jane Hutson, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127
Seersucker sedge is an evergreen, spreading sedge with narrow brown-black flowers on 8-inch stems in spring. Its wide, puckered foliage is shiny and bright green, reaching over a foot long. This sedge is native to rich woods of the eastern U.S. and makes a nice edger or accent plant.
This sedge's pearly, straplike leaves resemble striped ribbon waiting to be wrapped around a package. It sports fuzzy green flowers with green stamens in late spring. Grow as an edging or groundcover.
These plants can take worst of the a hot summer (heat, lack of water, and humidity) and still manage to perform well. They generally live four to five years before they need replacing, but during that time, they offer dependable foliage and pretty blue flowers from mid- to late summer. Blue-mist shrubs form low-growing, finely-textured mounds and are deer-resistant.
'First Choice' is ideal for a mixed or shrub border. It's an attractive woody shrub with dark green leaves, dark purplish blue flowers, and a compact habit. Misty blue flowers appear in late summer and early autumn.This plant is relatively drought tolerant and very heat tolerant. The shrub expands as branches that touch the ground form their own roots and may self-seed.
'Longwood Blue' is ideal for a mixed or shrub border. It's an attractive woody shrub up to 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide with silvery leaves and violet-blue flowers.. The flowers appear along the stems in late summer and early autumn.This plant is relatively drought tolerant and very heat tolerant. The shrub expands as branches that touch the ground form their own roots and may self-seed.
'Worcester Gold' is an attractive, mounding, woody shrub with warm yellow to chartreuse foliage and lavender-blue flowers in late summer and early autumn. The flowers are fragrant and attractive to bees and butterflies. The foliage is also aromatic. It is ideal for a mixed or shrub border.
'Jason' has bright yellow-green foliage with rich amethyst blue flowers in late summer and fall. It's a vigorous grower for a mixed border or mass planting in sunny areas.
Mountain sweet is a low-growing, broad, compact, deciduous shrub. Dark-green leaves are irregularly toothed, 2 to 3 inches long, and softly hairy or nearly hairless beneath. This plant bears profuse white flowers in 1- to 2-inch-long terminal clusters.
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.
Bachelor's buttons bear charming and prolific flowers in hues of blue, pink, lavender, white, and maroon. Those with a true blue color are especially welcome in the garden as that color is rare in nature. Each disc-shaped flower is about 1.5 inches across, with ragged petals radiating out from the center.
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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