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Acanthus mollis is prized for its bold clumps of shiny green leaves topped with striking, 3-foot-tall spires of white flowers which are clasped by showy purple bracts. This is a great plant for an eye-catching structural element in a part-shade border.
With their white margins and mottling, the jagged leaves of 'Tasmanian Angel' are a real showshopper, and in late summer, 3-foot-tall, pink-and-cream flower stalks heighten the effect. The variegation may be less pronounced as the leaves age, but the plant still draws the eye. Use it as a multiseason container specimen or as a bedding plant. -Allan Armitage, Plants to know and grow, Fine Gardening issue #119
The southern maidenhair fern has fluffy, airy, and elegant foliage, which works equally well in containers or in open ground. It's a perfect plant for providing light, airy texture to shady beds. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
This hummingbird mint boasts large spikes of reddish-pink tubular flowers with an orange tint over a long season in summer and early fall. The whole plant is aromatic. Grow in a bed, border, rock garden, or xeric garden.
Agastache ‘Summer Breeze’ produces hundreds of 1.5-inch-long translucent, tubular blossoms. The flowers are painted in luscious sunset shades and appear from late spring to frost. In hot weather, peach, champagne, and soft pink are its colors, while in cooler months the flowers darken to pale copper and medium rose. It forms an open, airy, 2- to 3-foot-tall clump, and the upper third of each stem bears a long succession of hummingbird-attracting blooms.
'Blue Fortune' produces spikes of powder-blue flowers held over large, deep green foliage. The plant stands approximately 36 inches tall with a mature width of 18 inches. Peak bloom occurs in midsummer when butterflies are plentiful.
This is an erect, bushy perennial with scented gray-green leaves. Its raspberry-red flowers grow on loose, foot-long spikes from midsummer to late fall. The flower spikes have a long bloom period and attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insects.
A cultivar discovered at High Country Gardens in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this aromatic, water-wise perennial grows to 30 inches tall and 18 inches wide and features fine, mint-scented, gray-green leaves and spikes of tubular flowers in shades of soft pink and peach from summer to early fall. The plant is hugely attractive to hummingbirds, hence its common name. It is resistant to heat and drought, and can be used in both mixed borders and containers.
A cultivar discovered at High Country Gardens in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this aromatic, water-wise perennial grows to 30 inches tall and 18 inches wide and features fine, mint-scented, gray-green leaves and spikes of tubular flowers in shade of orange from mid-summer to fall. The plant is hugely attractive to hummingbirds, hence the common name.
A classic plant for both herb gardens and borders, anise hyssop is composed of erect branches of mint-and-licorice-scented, medium green leaves ending in fuzzy spikes of small lavender flowers. The plant grows to 3 to 5 feet tall and 1 foot wide and reseeds freely. The flowers are edible and are charming crumbled into salads. The flowers are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
True to its name, sunset hyssop encapsulates a Western sunset in its flowers: bronze with hints of orange and yellow, and streaks of magenta and pink along the margins. More and more flowers emerge as summer progresses. The plant blooms heavily in August, and continues into autumn.
The drumstick allium has egg-shaped flowers in summer that start off green, then bloom and develop to pink and then clover red-purple. These plants are attractive in a bed or border, especially peeking up through other plants, such as roses, so that their nondescript foliage is hidden. Their vertical presence and eye-catching flower shape are valuable additions to the garden, and they naturalize freely.
Satiny deep green to black leaves and glowing white veins on 18-inch-long leaves make this elephant's ear great in containers, in a shady border, at the edge of a pond, or as a houseplant. It also has pale stalks with purplish banding. 'Frydek' is very tolerant of a range of soil pH, heat, humidity, and heavy soil. It can even take about a half day of sunlight.
'Casablanca' Peruvian lily is the closest to white that this genus has gotten as of yet. Inside its amaryllis-shaped white flowers, reddish dashes on a yellow wash and a pale pink throat add interest. 'Casablanca' is also taller than most other Alstroemerias. They make great cut flowers and are frequently used by florists; they also add a tropical feel to beds and borders. Roots are very brittle and care should be taken when planting.
Angelica is a striking ornamental biennial or short-lived perennial with jade green, glossy, bold leaves and large umbels of white flowers. It makes a unique statement in the garden.
Upright, low perennial with deep mauve to violet two-lipped flowers blooming all summer. Angelonia are superlative container plants, and can also be grown as bedding annuals.
This plant's foot-tall clumps produce white lily-like flowers on thin, arching stems. It blooms from late spring into fall; blooms are followed by attractive brown capsular fruits. Its foliage is narrow, linear, and dark-green.
This is the bronze-purple form of the common Queen Anne's lace. It produces beautiful, highly fringed, lacy foliage in a dusky purple.
Argyranthemum is often mistaken for or offered as Chrysanthemum. It is a great plant in containers where it isn't hardy. A. 'Jamaica Primrose' and A. 'Vancouver' will survive in Zones 7-11.
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.
Colorful Selections For Shade
With these striking plants, you'll never need to settle for a sea of green again
by Gene E. Bush
Forget the wallflower varieties - these 10 stars take center stage
by John O'Brien
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
10 Combinations for Shade
The secret is in using color to pump up the interest in low-light spots
by Inta Krombolz
Bringing Sun and Shade Together
Show off what these extremes have to offer, then unite them with some common ground
by Dan Johnson
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