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This upright, sparsely branched, woody shrub reaches 4 to 10 feet tall. It's easy to grow but slow-growing. It displays dark green leaves that are blue-green beneath, and large, silken blossoms 6 to 12 inches across in late spring and early summer. The plants maintain a graceful branching structure throughout the winter.
'Prairie Fire' is a distinctly red form of switchgrass. Blue-green spring foliage turns shades of deep red by early summer and butter yellow in late fall. The grass persists into winter. 'Prairie Fire' has a fibrous root system that grows to more than 10 feet deep, making it drought tolerant. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
'Shenandoah' is truly a plant for all seasons. In early summer, its leaf blades are tipped in red, and by autumn, the entire leaf is a rich burgundy color, topped by pink plumes. In winter, the leaf color fades to beige; the blades persist and offer cover to birds. 'Shenandoah' is a compact selection of an American native prairie grass. -Chris Kelley, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
This rhizomatous perennial grass has a narrowly upright, clumping form. Mid-green stems bear stiff, erect, blue-gray leaves to 24 inches long. Foliage turns yellow in autumn. Weeping panicles of tiny purple-green spikes appear in early autumn.
Parrotia persica has one of the most beautiful foliage displays, in addition to year-round eye appeal and ease of maintenance. Reddish-purple when unfolding in spring, the leaves are a lustrous dark green in summer, and yellow to orange or scarlet in fall. Leaves hold their color for a long period. Older branches and trunks develop an exfoliating gray, green, white, and brown color that is a welcome asset in the winter garden. It grows successfully in Zones 4 to 8, tolerates sun and partial shade, and is easy to transplant. Often, vegetatively propogated forms offer more reliable fall color.
This exemplary species has felted, gray, crinkled leaves. Over a long period, it exhibits sprays of butterfly-shaped, rich wine-red flowers, which contrast dramatically with the foliage. Its small stature makes it a perfect candidate for a container or a walkway edge. It has been used medicinally for the treatment of various infections, including bronchitis. It is a native of Africa.
This species produces 2- to 5-foot-tall mounds of narrow green foliage and bottle brush-like silvery-pink to purple flowers, both of which mature to shades of brown. It is the parent of numerous cultivars with notable flowers that range from purple to gray/black. It and some of its cultivars self-sow plentifully in warm climates. It is marginally hardy in Zone 5.
Native to South Africa, this non-invasive evergreen species produces showy pink flowers in spring, which are held 2 to 3 feet above the foliage on stiff, wiry stalks.
This clumping bamboo is native to eastern and central China and can reach 15 feet tall and almost as wide. After two or three years, slender green culms turn a lustrous black. The foliage is abundant and dark green, making a stunning combination with the stems. Grow as screening, in large containers, or in a woodland setting where the stems can be appreciated.
The yellow to lime green foliage of 'Nugget' ninebark makes an interesting contrast with the exfoliating, cinnamon-colored bark. Clusters of white flowers appear along the stems in early summer, followed by dark brown seed capsules, which add winter interest. Unsheared, the plant has a vase-shaped growth habit. -David Graper, Regional Reports: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #122
'Procumbens' is similar to 'Pendula' in color but prostrate in habit, with cascading branches sometimes staying stiffly horizontal. Makes a spreading, undulating, mounding ground cover of silvery white needles.
This neat, rounded shrub has given rise to many noteworthy cultivars. It grows to 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide, producing drooping clusters of delicate white blossoms in winter and spring. Use this shrub in a woodland, rock garden, container, or as a foundation plant.
This compact, rounded shrub produces reddish-purple buds that first open as soft-pink then mature to white. It grows to about 5 feet high and wide, making it a superb specimen for a container or small garden.
This pine's needles are marked with bands of yellow and green. The buttery yellow variegation on the 3- to 5-inch needles is present year-round, but intensifies as summer turns to fall and persists into winter. The scaly, fissured bark is lovely, ranging in color from gray to rich rusty orange. This is a graceful tree when mature, with an irregular branching habit and tilted trunk.
Dark green, 4- to 6-inch-long needles and furrowed bark (on mature trees) make Austrian pine an attractive large specimen tree. It can also be used as screening, although its growth habit becomes more open with age.
This robust evergreen tree has a narrowly columnar crown with ascending branches, slender gray-green leaves, and smooth gray bark. Tapered green female cones ripen to brown.
Dwarf white-stripe has 5-inch-long, upward-pointing green leaves strongly variegated with white. It grows up to 3 feet tall in either sun or shade, forming a striking contrast to less flamboyant neighbors.
This bamboo has showy variegated leaves of green and gold in an irregular pattern of stripes. It is a running bamboo, making it good for naturalizing and filling in or for hedging, but it may need to be controlled by underground barriers. It grows to about 5 feet high.
Western sword ferns abound in the forests of the Northwestern U.S. They are robust, reliable, and virtually maintenance-free. They put up with difficult soil and manage to keep up appearances even in hot, dry weather. Their deep green, leathery fronds are attractive year-round.
This vigorous shrub hugs the ground (to 2 feet tall) and spreads out to 8 feet, making it an excellent choice for stablizing a bank or smothering weeds. It has small yellow flowers, hairy red fruits, and glossy leaves that change to gorgeous orange-red in autumn.
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
How to Prune Conifers
These plants are unforgiving, so make the right cuts for the right reasons
by Bert Cregg
VIDEO Potting Soil Recipe for Woody Plants and Perennials
This long-lasting mixture is the perfect medium for long-term plants
by Rita Randolph
Q&A Growing in the wind
by Tim Boland
Spruce vs. fir vs. pine: How to tell them apart
by Steve Aitken
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