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Variegated Japanese silver grass is a boon in any garden where fine texture, a gentle color scheme, and a bit of swaying in the wind are welcome. This grass can be used as a focal point, an anchor plant, or even as a privacy screen.
This elegantly shaped grass has narrow leaves with white mid-ribs and a vase-like form to 6 feet tall. It shows bronze autumn color and can stand throughout winter to provide architectural interest. Tassel-like inflorescences appear in fall and can be used as cut or dried flowers.
This beautiful grass has an "inner light" that emanates from the white midribs of its fine-textured leaf blades and the threads of white around their edges. A graceful shape usually between 5 and 6 feet tall, ‘Morning Light’, turns golden in November and fades to beige in winter.
This tufted, compact perennial has dense clumps of slender, foot-long green leaves marked with stripes of creamy yellow. In summer, slim, pale yellow flower stalks rise up 3 feet tall in an arching pattern. Each inflorescence holds well into the fall, turning a toasty tan.
'Skyracer' grows to about 3 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet wide, and in late summer to early fall, sends up delicate panicles to a height of 6 or 7 feet. This finely-textured ornamental grass is great for areas where you need height but don't have space for a wider, heavier plant. It works well in a sunny border but make sure you site it so you can see it closeup. Expect outstanding yellow color in fall.
An edible member of Cucurbitaceae family, bitter melon has delicate growth and exotic-looking fruits. Its light-green, puckered foliage is divided into lacy lobes, and a silvery down covers both new shoot tips and emerging leaves, giving the young growth a silken sheen. Given a post to climb, bitter melon grows up, not out, using slim tendrils to carry the plant up to 6 to 8 feet in height.
In autumn, this unique specimen creates a spectacular, billowy inflorescence of massed, vibrant pink, airy flowers on 4-foot stems. It is noted for its tolerance to poorly drained soil. It is possibly hardy to Zone 6 with protection.
This beautiful warm-season grass produces attractive, pale purplish-gray plumes in autumn and goes dormant in the cold season. It forms a neat, upright clump with fine blue-gray foliage.
The yellow-green trumpet-shaped flowers of 'Lime Green' flowering tobacco mix well with many other colors in the garden. Growing to 2 or 3 feet tall, this annual's flowers attract hummingbirds and are fragrant at night.
Broad, deep-green leaves nearly a foot long and panicles of flowers the color of a Granny Smith apple make this Nicotiana a great companion for many other garden plants. It looks especially handsome with dark-foliaged trees or shrubs like purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’) or ‘Diabolo’ ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’). It is also good with grasses. N. langsdorffii comes into its own as a moderator wherever colors clash. That chameleon-like quality makes this nicotiana’s propensity to self-sow most welcome; no matter where its progeny appear, they look great.
This thick-stemmed annual or short-lived perennial reaches 5 to 6 feet tall, forming a large basal rosette of dark green leaves to 36 inches long. Lightly fragrant, long and tubular white flowers dangle in dense clusters from atop the tall stems. This plant starts blooming in late July or August. Flowers close in full sun.
Love-in-a-mist-bears delicate flowers 1.5 inches across in various shades of blue and white, surrounded by finely divided foliage. Blooms appear mainly in May and June, and sporadically throughout the summer, followed by attractive 1-inch-wide green seedpods that change to cream and burgundy over time.
This easy-going annual has 2- to 3-inch-wide blue flowers with black centers and wine-colored stamens, along with light green ferny foliage. Striking chalice-shaped seedpods form on sturdy stems and are green when they emerge, turning tan as they harden.
This African daisy blooms nonstop from early June through October, even in extreme heat. It has an attractive mounding form and is an ideal candidate for pots and baskets. Its daisy flowers are pale yellow with maroon centers.
A stunning, native dune grass, 'Dewey Blue' is perfect for coastal areas as well as inland gardens. Heat, drought, and humidity won't faze its noticeably graceful habit. This grass has exceptional blue foliage and a vigorous constitution. Airy, light beige flowers emerge in late summer and fall, persisting well into winter for a long season of interest. 'Dewey Blue' grows 4 to 5 feet tall and almost as wide.
'Prairie Fire' is a distinctly red form of switchgrass. Blue-green spring foliage turns shades of deep red by early summer and butter yellow in late fall. The grass persists into winter. 'Prairie Fire' has a fibrous root system that grows to more than 10 feet deep, making it drought tolerant. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
Panicum Ruby Ribbons’ soft blue-green foliage emerges in the spring on upright, clumping plants. The foliage takes on a wine-red color in early summer, which intensifies as the season progresses. Flower heads appear in late summer, followed by ornamental seed heads, which, if left uncut, provide long-lasting winter interest.
'Shenandoah' is truly a plant for all seasons. In early summer, its leaf blades are tipped in red, and by autumn, the entire leaf is a rich burgundy color, topped by pink plumes. In winter, the leaf color fades to beige; the blades persist and offer cover to birds. 'Shenandoah' is a compact selection of an American native prairie grass. -Chris Kelley, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
This rhizomatous perennial grass has a narrowly upright, clumping form. Mid-green stems bear stiff, erect, blue-gray leaves to 24 inches long. Foliage turns yellow in autumn. Weeping panicles of tiny purple-green spikes appear in early autumn.
In summer, beautiful brilliant red flowers top the branching stems with downy leaves of this 3-foot-tall poppy.
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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