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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.
Dwarf white-stripe has 5-inch-long, upward-pointing green leaves strongly variegated with white. It grows up to 3 feet tall in either sun or shade, forming a striking contrast to less flamboyant neighbors.
This bamboo has showy variegated leaves of green and gold in an irregular pattern of stripes. It is a running bamboo, making it good for naturalizing and filling in or for hedging, but it may need to be controlled by underground barriers. It grows to about 5 feet high.
'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.
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.
In late summer, this large, clump-forming species bears huge plumes of delicate pink flower clusters, which eventually fade to silver.
This large, clump-forming grass has linear leaves with central white stripes. In late summer it bears huge, purplish-bronze flower clusters, which eventually fade to silver. It resents high fertility and shows considerable drought tolerance.
This dwarf bamboo has deep-green leaves that become bicolored with the onset of autumn. The leaves then exhibit straw-colored margins, which persist into spring in warmer zones. It is a striking plant en masse or as groundcover in a woodland garden. It usually grows to 2 or 3 feet tall, but may reach 5 feet tall in deep shade.
Little bluestem is a tidy, finely textured clumping grass with a blue-green summer color. Its silvery seed heads rise to a height of nearly 2 feet in late summer and are at their best when backlit in the morning or afternoon sun. In fall, the grass turns a rosy rust color that lasts all winter.
This glorious conifer constitutes the sole member of both its genus and plant family. It is without a peer in its beauty; on a mature specimen, its rich needles compose a sculpture of form, texture, and color that is unrivaled. The foliage develops a bronzy tint in winter. While it often grows to 30 feet in cultivation and 90 feet in the wild, its slow-growing nature inspires patience.
This cool-season grass begins the season with bright green blades. In late summer and early fall, it produces silvery inflorescences which complement its golden-hued autumn foliage and persist throughout the winter.
This flowering evergreen tree has pinnate leaves 4 to 6 inches long. Notched, mid-green leaflets grow in pairs. Pea-like, fragrant blue-violet flowers in terminal racemes appear in spring, maturing to bright red seeds.
Golden yellow plumes and a vase-like form give 'Indian Steel' a refined look. On the flower spikes, bright yellow pollen sacs stand out against the darker seed heads. Metallic blue foliage morphs to a coppery tan shade after frost. 'Indian Steel' tolerates a range of soil types, including heavy clay. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
The finely textured, green leaves of this slow-growing, clump-forming perennial turn golden yellow in autumn. It bears cloudy panicles of fragrant, pale-pink to tawny flowers 5 to 10 inches long in late summer, reaching 3 feet tall.
Largely untried in the northern states, Wright's dropseed is a great new grass that is becoming a substitute in southern gardens for unwieldy pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana). Heat and drought tolerant, its gray-green foliage sports airy clouds of flowers atop tall stems in summer. This grass is good as a single specimen or in a group as a showy backdrop.
A multi-stemmed, deciduous tree with a rounded columnar form, stewartia features stunning bark that exfoliates in strips of gray, orange, and reddish brown once the trunk attains a diameter of 2 to 3 inches. Serrated foliage emerges bronzy purple in spring, develops into a dark green by summer, and turns red or orange in the fall. In midsummer, "glamorous" white camellia-like flowers open in random succession and are followed by pointed brown seed pods, which are persistent but not very ornamental.
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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