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A half-hardy perennial, this sophisticated climber grows to 8 feet tall. It has a profuse show of 1.5-inch indigo, violet, pink, or white flowers. It's great for the cold greenhouse or conservatory, and will often bloom until the end of the year unless there is a hard frost.
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
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.
This is a slow-growing ginger, but worth the wait. Its round evergreen green leaves have a prominent silver-white mottling.
There are many species and varieties of wild ginger, but this vigorous, fast-growing, and beautiful species tops my list. Elongated, heart-shaped, dark green leaves look and feel as if they were made out of Naugahyde and splashed with metallic paint. The foliage shimmers when hit by a beam of light. It is evergreen to 10°F but will quickly reappear in the spring if it freezes. If you want to see the unique, 2-inch-wide, dark purple flowers, get on your hands and knees and look at the base of the plants. Though not particularly showy, they are interestingly attractive. Plants spread quickly by underground rhizomes, forming a thick mat of foliage that crowds out weeds. I recommend spacing them 10 to 12 inches apart and letting them fill in over the next few years. Plants are not picky about soil pH or type, but they do best in well-drained areas. -Jimmy Turner, Plants for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133
Butterfly weed is a native perennial with flat-topped, orange or yellow flower clusters at the ends of its stems or in its leaf axils. From midsummer to autumn, it produces clusters of brightly colored flowers that attract insects, followed by fruit and showy seed. Plant in a border, meadow, butterfly garden, or wildflower garden.
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 is an ovate, glossy-leaved plant usually grown as a houseplant. In early summer, it produces fleshy, bell-shaped, cream colored flowers with maroon interiors.
This plant flowers profusely and for an exceptionally long time, from early summer to mid-fall. Its flowers are violet-blue.
This repeat-blooming aster produces bright, 2-inch-wide, violet-blue flowers from mid-summer into fall. It grows to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide and prefers full sun and average, well-drained soil.
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.
Growing to less than 2 feet tall and wide, 'Purple Dome' covers itself with semi-double, deep purple, daisy-like flowers from late summer to midfall. In addition to being mildew resistant, it attracts butterflies. It's great as a border specimin and as a cut flower.
'October Skies' is a dwarf aster that is low to the ground and mounding. It flowers in the fall when most other plants have finished for the season, covering itself with hundreds of dark sky-blue flowers.
Tatarian aster is an impressive, stately perennial with a flowering height of 3 to 6 feet. It can look you in the eye yet require no staking. More important, this aster flowers longer than any other garden aster, beginning in late September and early October and continuing into November. The 1-inch-wide, light lavender flowers are a magnet for local and migrating monarch butterflies. This plant tolerates many soil types, can form large colonies in a few years, and is easily divided.
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
Find out what all the buzz is about by planting these colorful perennials
by Sally Roth
10 Shrubs for Summer Color
These vibrant bloomers give even the showiest annuals and perennials a run for their money
by Paul Cappiello
Enchanting Japanese Maples
Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
by Francie Schroeder
Q&A Moving houseplants outdoors for the summer
by Tim Pollak
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