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This clumping woodland perennial with deep green foliage up to 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide bears spikes of fragrant white flowers 1 to 2 feet long in fall. Cultivars exist with varying leaf colors and forms.
Unlike other bugbanes, 'Hillside Black Beauty' offers deep purple-black foliage. From late spring to late summer, its dark hue makes a wonderful backdrop for colorful foliage and flowering shade plants. In fall, fragrant, cream-colored flowers appear on tall, wandlike stems. An added plus: this plant is deer resistant. --Michael Ruggiero, Regional Picks: Mid-Atlantic, Fine Gardening issue #127
This hummingbird mint boasts large spikes of reddish-pink tubular flowers with an orange tint over a long season in summer and early fall. The whole plant is aromatic. Grow in a bed, border, rock garden, or xeric garden.
'Blue Fortune' produces spikes of powder-blue flowers held over large, deep green foliage. The plant stands approximately 36 inches tall with a mature width of 18 inches. Peak bloom occurs in midsummer when butterflies are plentiful.
This is a 36-inch-tall hyssop with showy rose-pink flower spikes in late summer and fall and licorice-mint scented foliage. It is native to New Mexico and western Texas and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Grow in a border, herb garden, rock garden, or butterfly garden. Rubbing the foliage on skin reportedly repels mosquitoes.
A classic plant for both herb gardens and borders, anise hyssop is composed of erect branches of mint-and-licorice-scented, medium green leaves ending in fuzzy spikes of small lavender flowers. The plant grows to 3 to 5 feet tall and 1 foot wide and reseeds freely. The flowers are edible and are charming crumbled into salads. The flowers are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Anise hyssop has subtle but eye-catching chartreuse foliage. Its powder-blue, long-lasting flowers contrast nicely with its leaves.
This 4-foot-tall and 18-ich-wide, bushy perennial, very similar to the more common anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) has strongly mint-and-licorice-scented leaves and short spikes of lavender-blue flowers from midsummer to early fall. Unlike most agastaches, both of these species can tolerate more moisture and humity, making them highly suited to climates outside the arid west.
True to its name, sunset hyssop encapsulates a Western sunset in its flowers: bronze with hints of orange and yellow, and streaks of magenta and pink along the margins. More and more flowers emerge as summer progresses. The plant blooms heavily in August, and continues into autumn.
This plant's silver-blue leaves swirl like a cowlick. It produces flowers that are lollipop-shaped, pink with bright yellow accents and about 16 inches tall.
This is the last of the ornamental onions to flower, when mop-like heads of rose-purple flowers appear with orange anthers. The flowers are impervious to frost or snow. Superior cultivars include ‘Ozawa’, with larger purple flower heads than the species. A white-flowered form known as A. thunbergii ‘Alba’ is a splendid plant, with cup-shaped florets sporting white stamens, yellow anthers, and green centers.
This perennial vine sends out abundant pale purple to lavender flowers beginning in late October. It grows to 4 to 5 feet tall, and frost does not seem to impede the blooms. It can attract bees and butterflies well into November.
To get the best flower display, give climbing aster as much sun as possible. It should also have something to lean on, like a fence, a trellis, or an ornamental shrub. Don't prune it over the winter, no matter how dead it may look. It’s better to wait to tidy up things after the new growth appears in spring.
This is a fine plant for cascading over the edge of a wall. It's a hardy, prostrate shrub with intricate branching that often forms mats up to 3 feet wide, by runners. Fragrant, white bell-shaped flowers tinged with pink are borne in May and followed later in the season by red berries. The common bearberry's stunning red stems are studded with small, glossy, evergreen leaves.
Fragrant white flowers in spring, red fall foliage, and persistent berries for winter interest make Aronia a valuable plant in all seasons.
This is a woody plant with dense clumps of silver-gray leaves. It makes a great border accent.
Artemisia absinthium is a woody perennial with finely cut, silvery-gray, aromatic foliage. Its small yellow flowers have little ornamental value. Wormwood is useful in beds, borders, and rock gardens, and it makes an excellent foil for bright colors and dark foliage. This plant needs excellent drainage.
This is a high-drama native. Its gracious, high-impact, powdery-white shrubby mounded foliage grows to 4 feet tall.
This plant flowers profusely and for an exceptionally long time, from early summer to mid-fall. Its flowers are violet-blue.
'October Skies' is a dwarf aster that is low to the ground and mounding. It flowers in the fall when most other plants have finished for the season, covering itself with hundreds of dark sky-blue flowers.
Masterwort produces many small, ivory flowers that are flushed pink and bloom continuously throughout the summer and fall, wafting a sweet scent. Like Queen Anne’s lace, each masterwort blossom is an umbel of tiny flowers, framed by a collar of papery bracts.
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Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
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Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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by Patrick Anderson
PLANTING PLAN: A deer-resistant bed that shines in fall and winter
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