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This deciduous shrub is related to the forsythia, but differs in that it has white (rather than yellow) flowers that open in early spring before true forsythia. It is a member of the olive family (Oleaceae). In early spring, before the new leaves form, purplish buds all along the grey naked branches open into small white four-petaled, almond-scented flowers with yellow stamens. After flowering, green, glossy abelia-like leaves appear.
The "flowers" of black rose. are actually rosettes of burgundy-black leaves at the ends of stalklike stems. In winter, bright yellow flowers contrast with the dark foliage. 'Zwartkop' is a wonderful backdrop plant that can show off many companion plants to maximum advantage. -Jeff Moore, Regional Picks: Southwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
True to its name, sunset hyssop encapsulates a Western sunset in its flowers: bronze with hints of orange and yellow, and streaks of magenta and pink along the margins. More and more flowers emerge as summer progresses. The plant blooms heavily in August, and continues into autumn.
Thick, succulent grayish green leaves tipped with spines make this 3-foot-tall and wide agave a striking addition to a xeric bed or desert garden. Although its color is muted, its architectural form can't be overlooked.
The textural quality of this eastern native's stems and foliage is superb. During winter, a circle of the thorn-covered stems is as magical as an outdoor sculpture. Dark blue-green compound leaves offer a tropical effect before turning yellow and purple in autumn. One-foot-wide flower clusters sit atop the foliage in summer and transform into purple-black fruits that attract birds. Aralia spinosa grows to 30 feet tall and spreads indefinitely.
This shrub produces abundant, long-lasting, coral-red to scarlet berries, which stand out against dark-green, glossy leaves.
Fragrant white flowers in spring, red fall foliage, and persistent berries for winter interest make Aronia a valuable plant in all seasons.
This is an erect shrub with lustrous dark green leaves that turn scarlet in autumn. It produces numerous white flowers tinged with pink, and abundant showy red berries that persist into winter (birds dislike the taste).
European wild ginger is a low-growing groundcover with glossy, evergreen, heart-shaped leaves. Its unusual purple-brown flowers lie mostly concealed beneath foliage.
This wild ginger is an evergreen groundcover with heart-shaped, shiny leaves that are often marbled. Its interesting brown-purple flowers hide beneath the foliage.
This is an ovate, glossy-leaved plant usually grown as a houseplant. In early summer, it produces fleshy, bell-shaped, cream colored flowers with maroon interiors.
This is a dwarf astilbe with attractive red-green leaves and reddish pink flowers in broad, dense conical groups. Its blooms appear mostly in summer.
Aucuba are grown for their bold foliage, autumn fruit, and adaptability to shade, dry soil, pollution, and coastal conditions. A. japonica is a rounded, evergreen shrub with small, reddish purple flowers in spring, and red berries (on female plants) in fall. It grows to about 10 feet tall and wide. 'Crotonifolia' has leaves that look like they were speckled with yellow paint. 'Gold Dust' is female with heavy yellow speckling. 'Mr. Goldstrike' is male, more upright, and has gold-splashed leaves. Use as a hedge or specimen, in a container outdoors, or as an imposing houseplant.
Blue grama is a perennial grass from the Americas bearing unusually bent and flattened inflorescences. Being native to open grasslands, they are drought tolerant and at home in meadows. They provide the garden with shades of tan that persist throughout winter.
'Hachita' has narrow, blue-green leaves that form dense mounds. In summer, elongated seedheads add visual interest. This tough, drought-tolerant grass thrives in sand or clay soil with full-sun exposure. It needs a setting with good drainage, as it won't thrive in wet conditions. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
Rosettes of cabbage foliage are grown as annuals for fall and winter interest. Color intensifies in cooler temperatures (below 50°F). Good for bedding and containers.
This upright, oval, dark green boxwood grows to about 3 feet high and wide. It flowers in spring, but it is grown for its handsome foliage. Use as hedging or topiary, or in a border.
Versatile, attractive and care-free ornamental grass with wheat-like appearance. Slender, upright, deep-green, lustrous foliage becomes effective by early spring and lasts all the way until winter. A cool season grass, 'Karl Foester' is upright and clump forming, with purplish-green, feathery plumes to 6'. It distinctively blooms in early summer rather than fall and must have winter chill to bloom. Long lived -- 25 years or more. -Santa Rosa Gardens
Although it produces small, lavender-pink flowers in spring, this plant is known mainly for its violet to magenta berries, which start appearing in October. The berries, massed in tight bunches that encircle the branches, are vivid against deep-green leaves.
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.
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
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
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