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This tree has lobed leaves that are green on top and gray-white beneath. It turns bright red in autumn. Its form can be round to open-headed.
This ground-hugging succulent perennial roots at the nodes, has a creeping habit, and often forms deep mats covering large areas. It produces abundant yellow daisy-like flowers that open at noon and turn pink later in the day.
This stunning evergreen conifer can be a very large specimen tree (to over 100 feet) in the landscape. Its young, silvery foliage turns vivid glaucous blue as it ages; the sharply pointed leaves are arranged in whorls. Female cones are green and can be up to 4 inches long; they ripen slowly over 2 years to pale brown. This tree needs a lot of space to reach its majestic potential.
This spreading, deciduous tree native to Japan and China has a rounded form and rounded, redbud-like leaves. It grows to 70 feet tall and 50 feet wide and sports brilliant red, apricot, and yellow fall color. Early spring flowers are insignificant. This attractive tree makes an excellent specimen. 'Pendula', a weeping form, is this species' most popular cultivar.
Yellowwood is a vase-shaped spreading tree with dark green foliage that turns a delicate yellow or orange in the fall and smooth light gray bark. Breathtaking, pendulous, foot-long, wisteria-like clusters of fragrant white flowers appear in late spring and early summer, often in alternate years.
This rounded, deciduous tree with spreading, tiered branches is especially dramatic in the landscape. Its branches stand out in winter while the leaves, edged in a bold creamy white, add superb color and texture to the garden. In early summer, single white flowers are borne in large, flattened clusters up to 7 inches across. Blue-black fruit follows in autumn, attracting birds.
This fern's lacy foliage smells of freshly mown grass and carpets the woodland or a moist, partially sunny site. The green lushness turns golden in the fall. It is a good choice for rapid naturalizing. Use in a woodland garden or near water features.
This erect, evergreen large shrub or tree reaches 40 to 50 feet in height and 20 to 40 feet wide. Leathery dark green leaves have pointy, scalloped edges. Small green berries appear in late summer, maturing to crimson by autumn and persisting through the winter. Some ripen to yellow or orange. Use American holly as a specimen tree or in a woodland garden.
‘Pink Chablis’ has pink flowers above silvery gray leaves edged with dark green. These trailing plants make fine ground covers or cascaders.
Creeping Jenny is a low-growing, rampant, evergreen groundcover with rounded leaves. In summer, it produces many cup-shaped, bright yellow flowers.
Golden creeping Jenny is a low-growing, rampant, evergreen groundcover with rounded, golden yellow leaves. In summer, it produces many cup-shaped, bright yellow flowers.
This cultivar creates a fragrant cloud of rich bubblegum-pink blossoms on bare branches in spring. It grows to 40 feet tall and wide.
This deciduous species has remarkable leaves that are over 3 feet long and 1 foot wide. They are light green above and silvery beneath. It flowers in early summer with creamy-white, fragrant blossoms that reach a foot across. Magnolia macrophylla grows up to 40 feet tall and wide. It is native to North America.
This easy-to-grow, pest-resistant pear resembles a Bradford pear in size and shape, with profuse white blooms in spring and great crisp fruit. There are 30 cultivars.
This large, fast-growing tree has droopy leaves that stay sunny yellow from spring until frost, spiny shoots, and fragrant white flowers in late spring and early summer on pendent racemes. The flowers are followed by smooth brown seed pods that are also interesting. 'Frisia' is one of the cultivars that is grown more for foliage than for its flowers and it does not flower as freely as the species.
This prostrate evergreen species produces a mass of richly textured leaves, making it an attractive groundcover for formal areas, rock gardens, or woodland beds. The leaves are thick, neatly rounded and formed, with bronzy undersides and autumn color that persists through the winter. In summer, it bears white flowers, which are sometimes followed by red fruits.
This dwarf bamboo has deep-green leaves that become bicolored with the onset of autumn. The leaves then exhibit straw-colored margins, which persist into spring in warmer zones. It is a striking plant en masse or as groundcover in a woodland garden. It usually grows to 2 or 3 feet tall, but may reach 5 feet tall in deep shade.
This deciduous tree with dense foliage and a stately habit produces hanging clusters of fragrant yellow flowers in mid-summer. It grows in a broadly columnar shape and has dark green leaves that are glossy underneath. Basswood makes a good specimen or street tree, although it doesn't tolerate pollution. It can grow as tall as 80 feet with a width of 50 feet. It attracts bees; basswood honey is a sought-after gourmet food.
This North American native grows to 70 feet tall, with a broadly pyramidal outline. It has deeply furrowed bark, small, oval cones, and slightly drooping branchlets with finely textured needles. It is suitable to a wide variety of uses, such as hedging or screening, and group or specimen plantings. It has given rise to a number of notable cultivars.
Like other creeping myrtles, 'Illumination' is a tough evergreen ground cover for shade that will grow in almost any soil. Its hallmark is its bright gold leaves that are edged with a border of irregular green. Periwinkle-blue flowers appear in spring. Use 'Illumination' as a shade ground cover or in hanging baskets. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
Q&A Ground covers to avoid
by Nancy Ondra
Planting Ground Covers
Proper spacing and regular care are the best ways to create a lush, weed-free carpet
by Mary Hirshfeld
Flowering Ground Covers
To blanket an area small or large, these are the perennials to pick
by Nancy Ondra
Dividing a ground cover
by Liana Mackey
Plants for Pathways
These durable creeping perennials discourage weeds and soften the look of a walkway
by Marty Wingate
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