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If your shade garden needs a focal point, consider this small, rounded Japanese maple, with its lime-to-chartreuse-tinged golden leaves. In fall, its leaves turn orange and red, just like those of a sugar maple. This variety, like other small Japanese maples, needs shade and protection from sun and drying winds to keep the foliage from curling and turning brown at the edges. -Michael Ruggiero, Regional Picks: Mid-Atlantic, Fine Gardening issue #127
This conical shrub to small tree has palmate leaves and bears red (sometimes yellow-marked) flowers in 6-inch panicles in summer, followed by smooth-skinned fruit. The flowers attract hummingbirds.
Desert willow is shrub native to the Southwest U.S. and Mexico. Its erect willowy foliage is joined by large, blowsy pink flowers from early summer to first frost. This tough plants performs well in xeriscapes and other dry, unforgiving locations. It grows to 10 to 14 feet tall and wide remains blemish-free all season long.
This dogwood can be classified as either a deciduous shrub or small tree. Appealing creamy white flowers appear in late spring and become attractive clusters of milky white fruit in fall. The first cold front often turns the leaves a dark burgundy, and the winter stem tips have a glossy mahogany hue.
This upright, tree-like shrub has heart-shaped, toothed, mid-green leaves. Pendent yellow catkins are borne in late winter and early spring. Strongly twisted, spiraling shoots provide year-round interest.
This cross of the European smoke bush (C. coggygria) and the American smoke tree (C. obovatus) is a gem in the garden thanks to its multiseason interest. Its iridescent spring foliage is green overlaid with red; then its large pink clouds of blooms in summer are followed by brilliant autumn foliage that ranges from red to orange. 'Grace' combines well with just about anything; asters, ornamental grasses, and Japanese maples are good places to start.
Discovered in the wild along Georgia's Altamaha River in 1765 by botanists John and William Bartram, this beautiful landscape tree is considered extinct in the wild. The Bartrams named the plant in honor of their friend Benjamin Franklin. All Franklinias today are descended from those propagated by the Bartrams in their Philadelphia garden. It is a deciduous, understory tree with an upright habit. It can be grown as a single-trunked tree or a multi-stemmed shrub. The fragrant white flowers have bushy yellow stamens and the leaves are dark green and glossy, turning orange, red, and purple in the fall. It blooms in late summer and early autumn, when few other trees are in flower. The fruit that follows is woody and spherical. Franklin tree makes a great addition to an open area of a woodland garden.
There are few better winter displays than the blossoms of 'Pallida' witch hazel. Bright green leaves line its flaring branches in spring and summer. After a display of yellow fall color, the plant shows its distinctive branch structure. Around the end of December, clusters of buds begin to open into spidery, pale yellow flowers. These cover the branches until early March, giving off a rich, fruity perfume. This small tree or large shrub grows up to 12 feet tall and wide.
This deciduous tree has thick shoots and large, lobed, bright green leaves. Fragrant pinkish lilac flowers appear in late spring with the foliage. When grown as a perennial, its robust shoots become sturdy stems 2 inches in diameter, with mammoth leaves as much as 2 feet across. Paulownia tomentosa can grow to 12 feet tall in a single season.
Lemon-lime foliage, fuzzy stems, and intense fall color make this sumac cultivar a standout. It grows into an upright, rounded form about 6 feet tall and as wide. New growth emerges chartreuse. Fall brings leaves of yellow, scarlet, and orange. Flowers are yellowish green and followed, on female plants, by hairy, dark red fruit. This plant spreads by suckers and can be invasive. The species is native to North America.
This hemlock cultivar makes a very beautiful specimen, slowly forming a 10- to 15-foot-tall and 30-foot-wide, multi-layered mound of greenery. Its horizontally speading branches are covered with smaller weeping branches clothed in short, dark green needles. It looks great growing over a rock wall, in a rock garden, or by water. Its size may be controlled by regular clipping.
Blackhaw Viburnum is a large shrub or small tree with clusters of creamy white flowers followed by pink-rose berries, which birds love to eat. Its distinctive bronze-green foliage on reddish purple stems turns blue-black in the fall. Blackhaw grows to 12 to 15 feet high and 8 to12 feet wide.
Chaste tree is a southern favorite beginning to gain favor across the country. Whether left to grow as a large, multistemmed shrub or cut back annually for a more compact look, this selection is a winner. Fine, lacy leaves are glossy and green. Bright blue flower panicles begin to form in early summer and continue through the heat of the season and into fall. This is a reasonably cold-hardy, deer-resistant woody plant, and while V. agnus-castus is typically considered a Zone 7 plant, the variety latifolia can be grown in Zone 6 and even in southern areas of Zone 5.
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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