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A large shrub or small tree, Albizia julibrissin is native to Iran to Japan. It is a fast-growing plant whose seedlings can become invasive. It can be seen growing in the wild in the southeastern U.S. and California in waste places, fields, and along roads.
However, its bipinnate, ferny leaves and fluffy pink flowerheads that cover the tree in summer make it a garden-worthy plant, as do the fragrance emitted by the flowers, which attract bees. Seed pods that resemble flat beans follow the flowers and persist into winter. Still, care should be used so that seeds from garden plants can't escape into the wild.
Japanese camellias shine in winter, with their glossy, deep green leaves and brilliant symmetry. Red, pink, and white lowers appear in spring, and they range from solids to stripes and from single cups of petals to tight double blooms. -Nellie Neal, Regional Picks: Southeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
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.
This is a tough evergreen shrub with pendent flowers that provide a delightful gardenia-like perfume during October and November. Brown fruit ripens to red in autumn. Handsome foliage is a lustrous green above, dull and silvery dotted with brown below.
This evergreen shrub can light up the dark corners of a garden. It grows quickly, and its branches are arched and somewhat spiny. Bright yellow, 3- to 4-inch-long leaves splashed are outlined in green. The twigs are a metallic copper color, and the undersides of the leaves are specled with a copper color, too. Tiny white flowers appear under the leaves in fall. They are hard to see, but very fragrant. Small orange fruit appear in spring. -Michael Lee, Fine Gardening issue #119
This striking clump-forming bamboo, with olive-purple stems, dark green leaves, and an upright habit, is suitable for screening. May be grown in a container if provided with adequate moisture.
This southwestern native shrub grows to 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide and sports long, dull, spiny stems that green up and leaf out after a rain, followed by long, scarlet flowers that attract hummingbirds.When dry conditions return, ocotillo drops its leaves again. This cycle can replay several times a season. Great as a surprising specimen or forbidding hedge.
There are few better winter displays than the blossoms of 'Pallida' witch hazel. Bright green leaves line its flaring branches in spring and summer. After a display of yellow fall color, the plant shows its distinctive branch structure. Around the end of December, clusters of buds begin to open into spidery, pale yellow flowers. These cover the branches until early March, giving off a rich, fruity perfume. This small tree or large shrub grows up to 12 feet tall and wide.
Chinese holly is a round, evergreen shrub with glossy, spiny leaves and large red berries. It grows to about 15 feet tall and wide.
Yaupon holly is an upright, irregularly branched, evergreen shrub or small tree with ovate, toothed, shiny dark-green leaves and gray branches. Profuse, transluscent scarlet fruit persists through the winter.
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.
Developed by the National Arboretum, 'Teton' pyracantha has a striking upright form, reaching 12 feet tall or more, and orange to golden yellow fruit. It is also resistant to fireblight and scab. Less hardy than some other cultivars, only to Zone 6.
Large—to 20 inches across—almost rounded, lobed leaves colored a downy gray-tinged green contrast beautifully with almost any companion plant. This thicket-forming, sparsely branched, evergreen shrub, which behaves like an herbaceous perennial in Zones 6 and 7, produces thick, leafy shoots topped by white flowers borne on branching stems to 20 inches long in fall.
This tropical palm grows to 35 feet tall and has stiff, feathery-textured fronds. In summer, it bears yellow flowers followed by fruit that ripens to bright red. It tolerates both alkaline soil and coastal conditions well.
This vigorous, coarsely textured evergreen shrub has an upright habit and 8-inch-long, lustrous, deeply veined oval leaves with dark blue-green surfaces and pale green undersides. The leaf stems are fuzzy brown. In spring, fragrant creamy-white flowers bloom in clusters. Blue berries form in June and become plump through September, maturing to glossy black. Plants grow 10-15 feet tall and wide.
Stylish Shady Containers
Low light doesn't have to cramp your creativity or limit your plant choices
by Karen Chapman
A guide to growing, care, and propagation of rex begonias, plus some great cultivars
by Rita Randolph
Container Plantings in the Shade Yield a Spectacular Garden
You don't need a lot of sun or even access to the soil to have a lovely garden
by Gary Keim
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
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