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This dark-leaved, tropical foliage plant loves heat, and is useful spreading through a bed, border, or in a container where its deep purple leaves can contrast with brightly colored flowers or foliage. Alternanthera are native to tropical and sub-tropical areas of Central and South America. Their flowers are generally an afterthought. This plant works well for edging, as an annual groundcover, or in a formal knot garden.
Amaranthus cruentus makes a striking statement in beds or borders. Growing to 6 feet in height, it bears somewhat fuzzy-looking spires of purplish red flowers in summer, followed by seed heads that can be red, purple, or yellow. It is native to tropical regions of North and South America, and is one of three Amaranthus species cultivated for their grain.
This hardy annual has vibrant, ornamental red, yellow, and green foliage that lends a tropical effect to the garden. Small flowers, borne from summer to early autumn, are inconspicuous in comparison to the effect of the foliage. Cultivars feature yellow and maroon-shaded leaves, but the species still offers the showiest foliage.
'Pawnee' has an upright habit and warm fall colors that persist into winter. This refined offbig bluestem has the bluish purple stems typical of the genus. In late summer, Purplish red flowers appear in groups of three or six, which look like a turkey foot—hence the nickname: "Turkey Foot Grass." The root system that can extend down more than 10 feet. Each year, a third of these roots die, opening up channels for water. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
This beautiful ornamental grass has upright, glossy green foliage and interesting, animated leaf tips that resemble party favors. Evergreen to 25°F, these plants gain reddish purple hues in the fall and winter. This plant is extremely adaptable—it thrives in desert and damp conditions, it is used for erosion control, and it works well in containers or as a screen. It looks especially beautiful when backlit by the sun.
This tuberous begonia bears green heart-shaped foliage with red veining and claret-stained undersides that steal the show when backlit. Pendent clusters of slightly fragrant, satiny pink or white blossoms open from midsummer until frost. It makes a good perennial companion for ferns and hostas.
This is a sweet Swiss chard with beautiful candy-apple-red stalks and dark green, crinkly leaves with touches of red. Both the leaves and the stalks are very ornamental and 'Ruby Red' is great in a vegetable or cottage garden, or in an ornamental bed or border. It is especially attractive when grown with plants whose colors call attention to the red coloring. Although related to beets, the root is inedible, but the leafy greens are valued for their mild flavor and high nutritional value.
This fast-growing annual of the Midwestern wet meadows grows to 4 or 5 feet tall. Hundreds of 2-inch golden daisies with buttery tips and dark, fringed eyes smother fine foliage in late summer. Be cautioned, this plant generously self-sows, and is on Kentucky's invasive plant list.
These fast-growing plants with succulent, bristly stems are old-fashioned favorites of the border or herb garden. They self sow to produce a succession throughout the season of new plants and blossoms. The beautiful flowers are edible and are particularly bequiling on salad or floating in summer drinks.
Rosettes of cabbage foliage are grown as annuals for fall and winter interest. Color intensifies in cooler temperatures (below 50°F). Good for bedding and containers.
This plant produces distinct, 2-inch blossoms primarily in rich blue (but also in shades of purple and white), with dark eyes smudged white. It is suitable for sun and partial shade.
Versatile, attractive and care-free ornamental grass with wheat-like appearance. Slender, upright, deep-green, lustrous foliage becomes effective by early spring and lasts all the way until winter. A cool season grass, 'Karl Foester' is upright and clump forming, with purplish-green, feathery plumes to 6'. It distinctively blooms in early summer rather than fall and must have winter chill to bloom. Long lived -- 25 years or more. -Santa Rosa Gardens
This versatile ornamental grass has slender, upright, deep-green foliage. A cool season grass, it is upright and clump forming, with purplish-green, feathery plumes that can reach 6 feet in height. It blooms in early summer rather than fall and must have winter chill to bloom.
Information provided by Santa Rosa Gardens.
Pot marigolds bloom most of the summer, but are intolerant of intense heat and may die out during periods of hot humid weather. Their branching stems are covered with simple, alternate leaves and they produce large flowers in different hues of yellow and orange in the summer.
This pepper boasts the most dramatically deep purple-black leaves and fruit imaginable. The vigorous, bushy plants grow to 18 inches tall and almost as wide. Flowers are lilac, and dark black peppers emerge in fall.
Two-foot-tall, stiff, orange-brown blades curve at the end like a shepherd’s staff. Burnished red-bronze foliage, which fades to flax at the tips, gives off a warm glow when backlit by the sun.
This sedge is one of the most adaptable of the ground-cover grasses. Its ability to look the same in sun or shade makes it a valuable asset in plantings that go in and out of full sun. Berkeley sedge is a good solution for areas under stress where lawn grasses often fail. The flowers are not particularly noteworthy.
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.
'Ice Dance' is a dense, spreading sedge grown for its foliage. This sedge looks good year round, even in winter.The early-spring flowers are insignificant, but the white-edged leaves complement most other plants. Grow as a groundcover in woodland areas or in a shade garden. This sedge is evergreen in warm climates. -Jane Hutson, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127
With its yellow-trimmed foliage, ‘Oehme’ is truly the palm sedge with an edge. I love this species for its tropical feel and cascading texture. This North American native prefers a damp spot but tolerates many growing conditions. It’s attractive to butterflies and birds but is usually unappealing to deer. Use ‘Oehme’ to brighten a shady bed or as an ornamental approach to erosion control on a stream bank. -Justin Nichols, Fine Gardening #147 (October 2012), page 70
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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