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Flat-topped corymbs of small, daisy-like flowers in colors of salmon-peach to yellow-orange are borne simultaneously on one plant up to 2 feet tall and wide. Flowers are complemented by silvery-green, finely-textured foliage.
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.
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.
Anise hyssop has subtle but eye-catching chartreuse foliage. Its powder-blue, long-lasting flowers contrast nicely with its leaves.
Black foliage and spiky blue flowers (which appear in early summer) make a dramatic contrast. 'Black Scallop' thrives in full sun, which intensifies the black color. In full sun, the plant produces numerous runners, which should be thinned to prevent crown rot. In large plantings, you can run a rotary mower with a bagger attachment over the patch to control crowding and keep the foliage fresh. In mixed container plantings, the spilling habit of the plant makes it a standout choice. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
'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.
In late spring, lavender-pink flowers rise above this plant’s lacy, fernlike foliage, which forms an airy network beneath. The blooms appear a bit later than typical for other astilbes, and they extend later into summer. ‘Maggie Daley’ is moderately drought tolerant once established. Pair it with Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum, Zones 5–8) for a beautiful combination. And deer and rabbit resistance is the pièce de résistance! -Kielian DeWitt, Fine Gardening #147 (Octover 2012), page 76
This is the most drought-tolerant bergenia I’ve found and the only one that does well in Texas heat. The large, hairy, critter-resistant leaves do not resemble other members of this genus; they look more like hairy plates or giant African violet leaves—hence, it’s common name. Mature plants will send up 10-inch-long stems of white to pale pink flowers from spring to early summer, but the real reason to grow this plant is its remarkable foliage.In cooler regions, hairy bergenia grows not only in the shade but also in full sun. It isn’t particular about soil type or pH. Divide plants every three to five years to keep them vigorous. -Jimmy Turner, Perennials for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133
A well-behaved perennial from the mint family (Lamiaceae), variegated calamint has pale-green, oval leaves with strong white marbling. It sends up a wealth of clear-pink tubular flowers that muster an army of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds from mid- to late summer. It’s eye-catching both in and out of bloom and has a wonderful minty fragrance all season long.
Snow-in-summer is great for rock gardens and dry areas, and also works well as a container plant. Plant it on a stone wall for a cascading effect. Snow-in-summer needs room to perform. A single plant can carpet an area as wide as a yard across. After the flowers fade, the silver/grey foliage shines on in contrast to more predictable shades of green.
Lily of the valley's bell-shaped, sweetly scented flowers bloom in early spring. It likes partial to full shade and is perfect for a woodland garden. It may not be the best choice for your beds and borders because it tends to spread, but it is a perfect ground cover if you have a large shady spot under some trees.
'Route 66' features big, bold, bicolor blooms. A rich ring of burgundy surrounding the flower center bleeds out to the very tips of the yellow petals. Narrow, deep-green foliage forms vigorous, uniform clumps.
This hybrid has a compact, mounding habit, with silvery-blue foliage and fluorescent pink toothed flowers, which continue blooming with deadheading.
Long silvery stems, sometimes reaching 4 feet or more, bear silvery, small leaves. Use this striking plant as a groundcover or in containers.
Originating in mountainous woodland and stony habitats from Europe to western Asia, yellow foxglove is tolerant of dry shade but flourishes with moisture. Arising in midsummer from neat clumps of fine-toothed foliage, a mass of soft yellow open bells, speckled brown inside, blooms along one side of a 3-foot-tall stem. Usually described as a perennial, it is more accurate to call it a biennial or short-lived perennial. If the flowering stalk is cut down after blooms have faded, it may rebloom in the fall. When a few flower stalks are left, the plant self-seeds.
Yellow whitlow grass is a small, semi-evergreen perennial perfect for growing in a trough, rock wall, or xeric bed. It grows to only 4 inches high and twice as wide. This delightful, drought-tolerant miniature has spiny rosettes of lustrous green leaves through the winter and cheerful yellow flowers in early spring.
'Profusion' fleabane is a carpeting, rhizomatous, woody-based perennial with lax, branching stems and abundant yellow-centered white flowers in summer. Blossoms fade to pink and purple. Foliage is hairy and grayish green. Excellent in containers.
'Phantom' Joe Pye weed is an excellent 3-foot-tall perennial that was bred especially for smaller gardens and mixed containers. Plants have dark green, whorled foliage and handsome lavender to purple flower heads in late summer and fall. The blooms are darker when night temperatures are cool. Joe Pye weed attracts butterflies and other insects.
This hybrid produces masses of pure white bracts above finely textured, apple green foliage. It adds stunning texture and color to a border in partial shade.
This hybrid has petite green-and-cream variegated foliage with a hint of pink on the undersides. It produces chartreuse and apple green bicolored bracts on airy stems.
Stylish Shady Containers
Low light doesn't have to cramp your creativity or limit your plant choices
by Karen Chapman
Container Plantings in the Shade Yield a Spectacular Garden
You don't need a lot of sun or even access to the soil to have a lovely garden
by Gary Keim
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
Potting Soil Recipes
Cook up your own container mix that is suited to your plants
by Daryl Beyers
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