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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.
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.
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.
These showy shrubs have two distinct phases of garden interest. In winter, they display boldly colorful bark—red, yellow, or orange—on twiggy stems to make a striking scene. In spring, the stems lose their vivid color and produce bright green, gold, or variegated foliage that accents the garden through the fall. Twig and leaf color vary according to the cultivar.
'Cherry Cola' , a relatively new cultivar, features deep, dark burgundy foliage and small but sharp teeth (handle with care!). In summer, orange blossoms appear, and hummingbirds love them. Like other Dyckias, this plant tolerates extreme heat and is perfect for hot, dry locations. -Jeff Moore, Regional Picks: Southwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
Regarded by some as the bluest blue fescue, this plant forms compact, cascading mounds of foot-tall, intensely blue, narrow leaves that are attractive in all seasons. Blooms are generally secondary to the foliage, but this cultivar blooms more heavily than most, with spikelets in summer. This cultivar is long-lived and very hardy. Grow in groups in a border or rock garden, or as a groundcover.
‘HGC Pink Frost’ is part of a new series of hellebores that, for the Midwest, bloom very early, some as early as January; this cultivar blooms a bit later, usually in March. The bud count is high, with buds coming out in February all along the plant stem. They start out a deep burgundy but open to soft pink, then age to earthy rose shades. Flowers rise above the foliage, so they are never hidden, and they face outward, creating maximum interest. -Irvin Etienne, Fine Gardening issue 147, page 72
With some of the darkest foliage you'll encounter in the genus Loropetalum, 'Carolina Midnight' is a great new introduction that will add some purple punch to the garden. The flowers are like dark fuchsia fireworks in a sky of purple. It is a great substitue for purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria) in the South.
This evergreen bushy shrub has fragrant, spider-like pink flowers borne in cymes in late winter or early spring. The oval leaves are burgundy colored.
This yucca-like Mexican plant has bold bluish leaves to 3 feet long that have tiny serrations on the edges. It makes a stunning accent in the garden or in a container. It is hardy to 10°F and extremely drought tolerant. Thousands of tiny white flowers bloom on a 4-foot stalk on mature clumps.
'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 is an upright evergreen shrub with lance-shaped leaves. Foliage emerges bright red or bronze, turning a leathery dark green. Small white flowers appear in mid- to late spring.
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.
Golden yellow plumes and a vase-like form give 'Indian Steel' a refined look. On the flower spikes, bright yellow pollen sacs stand out against the darker seed heads. Metallic blue foliage morphs to a coppery tan shade after frost. 'Indian Steel' tolerates a range of soil types, including heavy clay. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
A good choice for winter color, this clump-forming variety is often grown for its long lasting, pink-budded white flowers that appear in late spring on 12-inch spires. Its star-shaped leaves are marked with burgundy and, in mild climates, turn bronze in winter. Plants grow to about 1 foot tall and wide.
This dramatic architectural plant is one of the most beautiful variegated yuccas on the market. Its sword-shaped leaves bear bold central stripes of bright canary-yellow against a rich celadon edge. In cool weather, margins are tinged pink, and the entire yellow stripe turns rose-colored on many of the leaves, lasting through early spring. Plants grow to 2 feet wide and nearly as tall. Branched clusters of nodding, creamy-white bells open in mid-summer on stout stems that reach 6 feet tall.
This easy to grow evergreen yucca bears dramatic, sword-shaped yellow leaves with a dark green edge. Not as staunchly upright as some yuccas, its leaf tips sometimes droop with age. Its foliage color is best from fall to spring. Plants grow to nearly 2 feet in height and 3 feet in width. In summer, it produces a 6-foot-tall spike covered with nodding, fragrant, white bell-shaped flowers.
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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