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This dwarf cultivar of grassy-leaved sweet flag (to 10 inches tall and 6 inches wide) has linear fans of semi-evergreen, glossy, pale green and cream-striped leaves that have an overall golden effect. This is an aquatic perennial with showy foliage for shallow water margins.
This aquatic perennial is semi-evergreen and showy, with grassy, striped foliage that reaches less than 1 foot tall. The species is native to East Asia. Use it in a situation where its diminutive size can be appreciated along the margins of a pool or in a bog garden.
The southern maidenhair fern has fluffy, airy, and elegant foliage, which works equally well in containers or in open ground. It's a perfect plant for providing light, airy texture to shady beds. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
There are many cultivars available of this fast-growing annual. They are best used as bedding, edging, or container plants. Panicles of blue, pink, purple, or white flowerheads arise from oval, downy leaves in midsummer and continue until frost. They have a soft, fuzzy appearance and attract butterflies.
This early, compact bloomer grows to only about 6 or 7 inches tall. With its icy blue-purple flowers, it works well when planted tightly along the foreground of a bed. Its color blends easily with most other hues and textures. -Julia Jones, Designing with annueals, Fine Gardening issue #120
This low-mounding perennial has lobed, silver-edged foliage and small yellow flowerheads in autumn.
Black foliage and spiky blue flowers (which appear in early summer) make a dramatic contrast. 'Black Scallop' thrives in full sun, which intensifies the black color. In full sun, the plant produces numerous runners, which should be thinned to prevent crown rot. In large plantings, you can run a rotary mower with a bagger attachment over the patch to control crowding and keep the foliage fresh. In mixed container plantings, the spilling habit of the plant makes it a standout choice. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
About a third the size of the more well known A. mollis, A. alpina has delicate leaves edged in brilliant silver.
'Yellow Form' Alternanthera is an easy-to-grow, tropical plant with a fast-spreading habit and pointed, chartreuse-yellow leaves. It forms a mat of color from spring's frost-free date to fall's first frost. Like others of this genus, it makes a great edging, bedding, or container plant. In formal landscapes, it can be used in a knot garden. It looks great with dark-leaved plants.
Chalk up another great plant introduction from the folks at Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina. This dwarf blue star grows to only about half the size of the species, making it well suited for gardens with limited space. It performs best in full to partial sun and is appreciative of moist, well-drained soil. The sky blue flowers appear in early spring above the clean, dark green foliage. Try planting 'Short Stack' in a mess and along bed edges for a winning display.
In summer, this colorful groundcover makes a 9-inch mound of saucer-shaped, deep blue flowers on long stalks.
This plant produces a great low-growing mat of flowers. The cheerful starlike blossoms come in pink, blue, and white, and the attractive finely cut leaves disappear soon after flowering.
The outside of the spathe is the color of dark chocolate, and the inside, milk white and as smooth as marble. Its hood sweeps up to an arrogant point, exposing its sumptuous white lining and the thick blunt spadix, which is also milk white. This plant produces two leaves per tuber, one leaf with three lobes and one with five. Sometimes they are mottled with silver, which makes them very handsome, at least until the plant goes dormant in summer.
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.
The rounded, lustrous leaves of this native plant form an appealing green ground cover. This plant produces beautiful, 2- to 4-inch, glossy green heart-shaped leaves. In spring, you'll find interesting, mauve-purple flowers hidden under its foliage. -Marty Hair, Regional Picks: Upper Midwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
This is a slow-growing ginger, but worth the wait. Its round evergreen green leaves have a prominent silver-white mottling.
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 is a dwarf astilbe with attractive red-green leaves and reddish pink flowers in broad, dense conical groups. Its blooms appear mostly in summer.
The broad silvery leaves of ‘Ursula’s Red’ have a showy burgundy band at the center of the leaves in spring. This plant can double in size in a single growing season, as it spreads from rhizomes. Though deer do like it, it may simply grow more fronds and not show any lasting damage. --Michael Ruggiero, Regional Picks: Mid-Atlantic, Fine Gardening issue #127
Alliums All Season Long
Deer resistant and dynamic, these bulbs provide color from the first showers of spring to the last leaves of fall
by Stephanie Cohen
Spectacular Spring Bloomers
These perennials are the light at the end of the long, wintry tunnel
by Dave Demers
Find out what all the buzz is about by planting these colorful perennials
by Sally Roth
Enchanting Japanese Maples
Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
by Francie Schroeder
How to Grow Trilliums
Plant the best species for your region in fall for a spectacular display in spring
by Gene E. Bush
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