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This plant's foot-tall clumps produce white lily-like flowers on thin, arching stems. It blooms from late spring into fall; blooms are followed by attractive brown capsular fruits. Its foliage is narrow, linear, and dark-green.
A favorite of children, Jack-in-the-pulpit is a tuberous perennial producing one or two leaves, each divided into three narrow leaflets. But it's best known for its spring to early summer display of hooded, green spathes—Jack's pulpit—which are often striped with purple. Autumn brings clusters of densely packed, showy red berries.
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.
Each of this plant's stunning lance-shaped leaves is the softest gray-green, edged subtly with a cream-colored pinstripe. These luminous 5-foot-tall plants are crowned with spires of delicate pink flowers with just a blush of salmon.
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.
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.
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.
A native small tree found in wetlands from Minnesota to Florida and from New England to California, buttonbush can reach 8 to 15 feet tall and is often wider than it is tall. Prune it into a small multi-trunked tree to reveal the curly bark of its young stems and the punctuated pale spots of its older stems. Blooms are extremely rich in nectar and attract butterflies and other insects.
This plant has a cypress-like, densely conical form with erect feathery branches of ovate blue-gray juvenile leaves. Oblong male cones emerge bluish black, opening brick red. Female cones are wrinkled and reddish brown, to one half-inch. A native of western North America, it is a very popular species since it is highly adaptable.
This evergreen, coniferous tree has flattened sprays of scale-like adult leaves. 'Heatherbun' has soft, blue-green juvenile foliage that turns plum to bronze in winter and a compact, rounded form.
Turtlehead is an excellent, sturdy, vertical perennial with rounded stems, medium texture and deep-green, boldly veined leaves on short stalks. Weather-resistant flowers are dark pink or purple, borne in short, dense, terminal spikes. The flowers are tubular 2-lipped blooms, with a sparse yellow beard inside each lower lip.
From May to October, this perennial bears bright yellow, daisylike flowers on leafy stalks. It spreads by rooting runners to form an attractive groundcover that is easily controlled. This variety differs from the species in its more prostrate form and its more rapid spread.
A deciduous climber native to the southeastern United States, Clematis crispa bears lavender-blue, bell-shaped flowers with curly edges in summer. Its blooms are not profuse, but their elegant shape makes this plant a good choice for trellises, growing through shrubs, or planting in damp areas. The flowers are slightly fragrant and are followed by attractive seedheads. It also makes an unusual cut flower.
Very fragrant, light pink bottlebrush flowers grace this native shrub in late summer and early fall, attracting butterflies and other insects and perfuming the garden for weeks. Plant it in beds or borders, in a woodland or shade garden, or at waterside. It also has nice fall color.
This summersweet is a sport of C. alnifolia 'Pink Spires'. Its fragrant, bottlebrush flowers are a darker pink; they attract butterflies, bees, and other insects in late summer and early fall. 'Ruby Spice' grows to about 4 to 6 feet tall and almost as wide, making this shrub suitable for a bed or border, a woodland or shade garden, or a waterside planting. Its yellow fall color extends the season of interest.
The heart-shaped leaves of 'Illustris' are huge, and their dark highlights are stunning. This elephant ear is a lover of moist shade, but does best with a little dappled sunlight. It will tolerate boggy conditions. -Julia Jones, Fine Gardening issue #120
This plant bears a profusion of lavender-pink flowers with yellow centers from mid-summer to early autumn. This perennial has finely textured leaves that give it an airy appearance.
The bicolored, white-tipped and raspberry-centered blooms are large (1 to 1.5 inches across) and long lasting. Flowers cover the mound of grassy foliage for weeks in summer and early fall. This hybrid does not produce seed.
This vigorous deciduous shrub provides a long season of interest in the garden with its variegated leaves, attractive berries, pretty fall color, and red winter stems.
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Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
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Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
A guide to growing, care, and propagation of rex begonias, plus some great cultivars
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by Nancy Matthews
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