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If your shade garden needs a focal point, consider this small, rounded Japanese maple, with its lime-to-chartreuse-tinged golden leaves. In fall, its leaves turn orange and red, just like those of a sugar maple. This variety, like other small Japanese maples, needs shade and protection from sun and drying winds to keep the foliage from curling and turning brown at the edges. -Michael Ruggiero, Regional Picks: Mid-Atlantic, Fine Gardening issue #127
'Golden Nugget' is a deciduous shrub with non-burning foliage. It is a slow grower (to only about 1 foot tall) and makes a good border plant, especially when planted with darker foliage plants or brightly colored flowers, or a groundcover. Grow in full sun for best color and berry production. It tolerates poor soils as long as drainage is good.The foliage has an orange cast for most of the season, which intensifies in the autumn.
This is the most drought-tolerant bergenia I’ve found and the only one that does well in Texas heat. The large, hairy, critter-resistant leaves do not resemble other members of this genus; they look more like hairy plates or giant African violet leaves—hence, it’s common name. Mature plants will send up 10-inch-long stems of white to pale pink flowers from spring to early summer, but the real reason to grow this plant is its remarkable foliage.In cooler regions, hairy bergenia grows not only in the shade but also in full sun. It isn’t particular about soil type or pH. Divide plants every three to five years to keep them vigorous. -Jimmy Turner, Perennials for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133
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 deciduous small tree initially has a pyramidal form, and later rounded. Cercis-like, opposite, heart-shaped blue-green leaves are borne on stiff, slender, pendulous branches that fan out from the crown and sweep the ground. Caramel-scented foliage emerges bronze or purple-red, turns blue-green, then fades to gold or apricot in autumn. Tiny red flowers emerge in late March or early April before the leaves.
In early spring, 'Forest Pansy' awakens with a long-lasting profusion of bright purplish-pink blooms borne in clusters, before the leaves, along smooth gray branches. Its heart-shaped, blood-red leaves are finely veined and glossy when young, slowly turning a dark, purple-tinged green in full sun. Autumn foliage is a bouquet of reds, purples, oranges, and yellows. The plant's graceful branching structure stands out in winter.
Bright purplish-pink blooms are borne in clusters, before the leaves, along smooth gray branches. Heart-shaped leaves emerge bronze, turning green, then yellow in autumn. Cultivars are available with white ('Royal White') or pink flowers ('Tennessee Pink'), purple foliage ('Forest Pansy'), and weeping form ('Covey'). Grows 15 to 25 feet tall with a slightly wider spread.
Hinoki cypress is a conical, evergreen, coniferous tree with leaves that are actually minute scales on tiny branches in the form of fans. The outer foliage of 'Aurea' is golden and the inner is green. Growth can be slow. Use as a specimen or use several as screening.
This cross of the European smoke bush (C. coggygria) and the American smoke tree (C. obovatus) is a gem in the garden thanks to its multiseason interest. Its iridescent spring foliage is green overlaid with red; then its large pink clouds of blooms in summer are followed by brilliant autumn foliage that ranges from red to orange. 'Grace' combines well with just about anything; asters, ornamental grasses, and Japanese maples are good places to start.
This specimen is grown for its stunning golden leaves, which turn to brilliant shades of orange and red in autumn. It may or may not produce the smoke-like plumes typical of the genus.
This shrub or small tree has stunning dark red-purple foliage that turns scarlet in autumn. It has plume-like seed clusters, which appear after the flowers and give a long-lasting, smoky haze to branch tips.
This shrub or small tree has stunning deep purple foliage that turns orange-red in autumn. It has plume-like seed heads, which appear after the flowers and give a long-lasting, smoky haze to branch tips.
'Purple Fountain' is a deciduous, columnar, dark-leaved tree with bronze-purple, wavy margined leaves and cascading branches. Leaves become more green as summer wears on. It can be used as a specimen tree or for pleaching. It is similar to the purple weeping beech but is much more columnar. Fall color is yellow, then orange-brown.
‘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
This heuchera has burgundy leaves splashed with silver and grows up to 16 inches tall and 18 inches wide. Pink flowers emerge in spring and rise to 26 inches tall. This plant performs well in both garden beds and in containers, where it makes a wonderful filler plant.
This heuchera, sold as Dolce® Blackcurrant in the U.S., has purple and silver leaves veined with black and grows up to 16 inches tall and 20 inches wide. While it flowers in early summer, it is grown primarily for its dramatic foliage and performs well in both garden beds and containers.
This heuchera has dusky purple leaves with charcoal veins, overlaid with silver between the veins. The plant grows up to 16 inches tall and wide. Pale pink flowers appear in spring. Great in garden beds and in container plantings.
This heuchera cultivar has very dark (almost black) plum or purplish leaves and greenish white, bell-shaped flowers in late spring and early summer.
This purple to almost black heuchera adds drama to the shade. The plant grows to 16 inches tall and wide with coralcolored blooms in spring. Grow it in garden beds or containers.
A hardy hibiscus, 'Kopper King' has leaves that are a coppery red on top and orange-red underneath. Large (10 to 12 inches across) ruffly white to pale pink flowers bloom from midsummer to mid-fall if you deadhead. 'Kopper King' dies back to the ground in autumn and is late to break dormancy in the spring. It should be interplanted with spring bulbs and overplanted with winter annuals; that way you'll get color year round without disturbing the hibiscus. -Pat McKernan, Regional Picks: Lower Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
10 Combinations for Shade
The secret is in using color to pump up the interest in low-light spots
by Inta Krombolz
Find spots in your garden for plants you thought you couldn’t grow
by Dan Johnson
Bringing Sun and Shade Together
Show off what these extremes have to offer, then unite them with some common ground
by Dan Johnson
Stylish Shady Containers
Low light doesn't have to cramp your creativity or limit your plant choices
by Karen Chapman
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