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Parrotia persica has one of the most beautiful foliage displays, in addition to year-round eye appeal and ease of maintenance. Reddish-purple when unfolding in spring, the leaves are a lustrous dark green in summer, and yellow to orange or scarlet in fall. Leaves hold their color for a long period. Older branches and trunks develop an exfoliating gray, green, white, and brown color that is a welcome asset in the winter garden. It grows successfully in Zones 4 to 8, tolerates sun and partial shade, and is easy to transplant. Often, vegetatively propogated forms offer more reliable fall color.
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.
This spreading tree with a graceful habit bears glossy, dark green leaflets. Thick shoots grow quickly when young—and more slowly as the tree reaches maturity. In fall, foliage turns a handsome shade of yellow and the tree bears clusters of blue-black berries. Deeply corrugated, pale gray-brown bark is a striking feature; unfortunately, it doesn’t develop until the tree matures.
A compact plant with a mature height of 8 feet, this conifer is densely globe-shaped when young, becoming pyramidal as it ages. Needles are soft green on top, bluish green at the bottom.
This spruce has blue foliage and drooping branches. It grows 3 or 4 inches a year, eventually spreading to about 8 feet wide and 4 feet tall, with silvery needles like its parent species.
'Procumbens' is similar to 'Pendula' in color but prostrate in habit, with cascading branches sometimes staying stiffly horizontal. Makes a spreading, undulating, mounding ground cover of silvery white needles.
This is a dwarf conifer with a rounded form. Juvenile needles grow like miniature puffballs on the tips of stubby, round branches and age to a silvery blue on one side and green on the other.
This pine's needles are marked with bands of yellow and green. The buttery yellow variegation on the 3- to 5-inch needles is present year-round, but intensifies as summer turns to fall and persists into winter. The scaly, fissured bark is lovely, ranging in color from gray to rich rusty orange. This is a graceful tree when mature, with an irregular branching habit and tilted trunk.
Dark green, 4- to 6-inch-long needles and furrowed bark (on mature trees) make Austrian pine an attractive large specimen tree. It can also be used as screening, although its growth habit becomes more open with age.
The yellow-green leaves of this pine are 4 to 6 inches long. The bark is densely branched and flaky and reddish in the upper crown, scaly and pink-gray at the base. The tree has thick orange to red-brown shoots, chestnut-brown female cones, and purple male cones.
This robust evergreen tree has a narrowly columnar crown with ascending branches, slender gray-green leaves, and smooth gray bark. Tapered green female cones ripen to brown.
'Schubert' choke cherry, with its vivid foliage and pyramidal form, makes a fine focal point. Ephemeral, light pink flowers are followed by abundant, dark red-purple fruit that birds love. (Don't plant it near patios or walks, as they'll quickly be covered by bird droppings.) If the tree you buy isn't grafted onto nonsuckering rootstock; otherwise, suckers could become problematic as the years go by. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
The golden larch is a lovely deciduous conifer whose lacy foliage turns golden in autumn. Its bright green needles are slightly larger than those of the European larch. Golden larch becomes a large pyramidal tree with an ultimate height of about 50 feet in cultivation. Its broad, horizontal branches are arranged in an open growth habit. In a big garden, it makes a neat specimen that never fails to attract attention.
This short-lived shrub or small tree with feathery foliage is blanketed in late spring with fragrant, pea-shaped violet blooms with white wings. Though it is native to streamsides, scurf pea doesn't require extravagant watering and survives occasional drought. When the plants eventually die, they leave ample progeny and straight branches useful for garden stakes. Combine with azaleas and camellias, which bloom at the same time.
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 large, fast-growing tree has droopy leaves that stay sunny yellow from spring until frost, spiny shoots, and fragrant white flowers in late spring and early summer on pendent racemes. The flowers are followed by smooth brown seed pods that are also interesting. 'Frisia' is one of the cultivars that is grown more for foliage than for its flowers and it does not flower as freely as the species.
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by Stephanie Cohen
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10 Shrubs for Summer Color
These vibrant bloomers give even the showiest annuals and perennials a run for their money
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Enchanting Japanese Maples
Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
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Q&A Moving houseplants outdoors for the summer
by Tim Pollak
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