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Rounded, ruffled leaves form a solid, weed-free, evergreen ground cover. In the spring, elongating shoots open to rounded heads of small four-petaled white flowers. Plants remain in bloom for nearly a month, opening new flowers from expanding terminal clusters as well as from numerous side shoots. Mature plants stand 12 to 18 inches high when in flower, and spread in time to form clumps 2 to 3 feet wide.
This stunning herbaceous woodland peony has upright red-mottled stems and dark green leaves that are elliptic or lance-shaped with rough margins. It bears usually solitary, single creamy white to pale pink blossoms that are cup-shaped and elegant. The blooms measure 3 to 4 inches across and have pale yellow stamens. Like all peonies, the flowers are with us for too short a time. They are followed by beautiful seedpods.
This plant is a beautiful addition to the garden from early spring until autumn. Red shoots with a crystalline dusting emerge in early April, followed by 5-inch-long, egg-shaped leaves that mature to a dark, reddish green. Each 18-inch stem bears a 2-inch-wide, chalice-like, single pure-white flower with yellow anthers and purple filaments. Mature seedpods open to reveal metallic-blue pea-sized fertile seeds and holly-berry red unfertilized seeds.
A stunning, native dune grass, 'Dewey Blue' is perfect for coastal areas as well as inland gardens. Heat, drought, and humidity won't faze its noticeably graceful habit. This grass has exceptional blue foliage and a vigorous constitution. Airy, light beige flowers emerge in late summer and fall, persisting well into winter for a long season of interest. 'Dewey Blue' grows 4 to 5 feet tall and almost as wide.
'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
Panicum Ruby Ribbons’ soft blue-green foliage emerges in the spring on upright, clumping plants. The foliage takes on a wine-red color in early summer, which intensifies as the season progresses. Flower heads appear in late summer, followed by ornamental seed heads, which, if left uncut, provide long-lasting winter interest.
'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
The flowers of vesper iris open in the late afternoon over a period of several minutes, just about the time the sound of evening vespers might have wafted over an old monastery garden. It is a valuable addition to the garden also because of its late blooming season (high summer into early fall) and for its ability to bloom from seed started the same spring. The vesper iris has typical iris-looking leaf fans and abundantly branched, willowy bloom stalks rising to 4 feet. The inch-wide flowers range in color from pure white to violet.
From a basal mound of toothed leaves (similar to scabiosa's foliage) rise 4- to 6-foot stems of tiny chrome-yellow flowers.
This annual grass produces deep pink flowers that resemble rabbits' tails. Flowers persist throughout the season. It forms a tidy, evergreen clump, 2 feet high and 3 feet wide.
This annual produces deep reddish-black flowers that resemble rabbits' tails. Flowers persist throughout the season. This plant forms an evergreen clump of green foliage with burgundy highlights, 2 feet high and 3 feet wide.
Pink, bottle-brush flowers rise well above arching clumps of graceful foliage in summer. This grass is beautiful in a mixed border, rock garden, or massed at waterside. It blooms in June with pink plumes.
This tropical annual produces mounds of narrow burgundy-red foliage and purple plumes to 1 foot long. It is invaluable for containers and stunning, annual foliage color in a border. It rarely sets seed.
Penstemon cobaea has shiny dark green leaves and purple, pink, or white flowers on spike-like panicles in mid-spring. It grows to 2.5 feet tall. The flowers are larger than most other penstemons. Dew flower is native to the Lower Plains and the southwestern U.S.
This vigorous perennial bears elegant clusters of pure white flowers marked with purple or pale violet from early to late summer. Semi-evergreen basal rosettes and deciduous or semi-evergreen stems are also often marked reddish purple.
This upright perennial has funnel-shaped, bright pink flowers on 3-foot-tall stalks in spring.
Rocky Mountain penstemon is an upright perennial that forms a mat of glossy green leaves from which arise straight, 2-foot-tall stems bearing rich purple blooms. It flowers in early June and occasionally throughout the summer. Blooms contrast nicely with yellow-blooming plants.
This is an upright penstemon with striking deep burgundy, purple, sometimes lavender or cream flowers on thin stems. The stem leaves are lance shaped and the basal leaves are spoon shaped.
This vigorous but noninvasive perennial flowers from early summer into autumn with crimson blossoms to 6 inches long. Its leaves are dark green, arrow-shaped, and slightly puckered. It grows to 4 feet high and wide.
This clumping perennial has triangular, strongly flavored, crinkly leaves. Its bright green foliage livens up any garden.
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Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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