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A favorite of children, Jack-in-the-pulpit is a tuberous perennial producing one or two leaves, each divided into three narrow leaflets. But it's best known for its spring to early summer display of hooded, green spathes—Jack's pulpit—which are often striped with purple. Autumn brings clusters of densely packed, showy red berries.
This plant's large, undulating leaves are textured like puckered crepe paper. Moreover, they resemble designer textiles with splendid splashes of cream and dark green. This has to be the queen of variegated plants.
Fragrant white flowers in spring, red fall foliage, and persistent berries for winter interest make Aronia a valuable plant in all seasons.
This is an erect shrub with lustrous dark green leaves that turn scarlet in autumn. It produces numerous white flowers tinged with pink, and abundant showy red berries that persist into winter (birds dislike the taste).
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 produces a 12-inch-high, symmetrical mound of silver-green, silky-hairy leaves. They make this plant a nice counterpoint to very colorful plants.
A. italicum will add great color and diversity to the garden with their attractively marked leaves, which may be arrow- or spear-shaped. Leaves are veined with mid-green to white. In early summer, white spathes of flowers are followed by spikes of bright orange red berries.
Goat's beard is a perennial native to eastern North America and parts of Europe and Siberia. It is grown for its tall stature (up to 6 feet) and showy, cream-colored plumes of flowers in summer. The effect is that of a giant astilbe. Plants with male flowers produce showier and more erect plumes than plants with female flowers, whose plumes are more pendent and less creamy-white. Grow in a woodland garden or moist border, or at waterside.
European wild ginger is a low-growing groundcover with glossy, evergreen, heart-shaped leaves. Its unusual purple-brown flowers lie mostly concealed beneath foliage.
This wild ginger is an evergreen groundcover with heart-shaped, shiny leaves that are often marbled. Its interesting brown-purple flowers hide beneath the foliage.
Asparagus is a perennial vegetable whose edible shoots are harvested in spring. Male plants produce better crop yields because they do not flower or fruit. The foliage is garden worthy because of its tall size and masses of feathery, delicate texture. Female plants may self-seed abundantly. Plants do not like to be moved, so choose a permanent location. Foliage is useful in floral arrangements.
This plant flowers profusely and for an exceptionally long time, from early summer to mid-fall. Its flowers are violet-blue.
This is a short-growing aster with lilac-blue flowers and creeping rootstocks. Many cultivars exist. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.
This is a short-growing aster has creeping rootstocks and pink, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.
This clumping, bushy perennial has slender stems and small, lance-shaped, medium green leaves. From late summer to late fall, it produces white flowerheads with yellow centers to a half-inch across. Its cultivars may bear flowers tinged pink or blue.
Although it’s valued for its autumn blossoms, ‘Lady in Black’ creates a stir from the moment its dusky purple leaves unfurl in spring. By summer’s end, thousands of tiny dark buds dot the densely branched 3-foot-tall plant, promising an explosion of color.
This striking, richly-textured, deciduous ground cover has heart-shaped leaves that turn mauve in autumn. Purple, blue, or white flowers appear in late summer to early fall.
Strong, almost woody, stems bear large sprays (to 10 inches) of violet-purple flowers.
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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