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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
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.
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
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.
This is a 36-inch-tall hyssop with showy rose-pink flower spikes in late summer and fall and licorice-mint scented foliage. It is native to New Mexico and western Texas and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Grow in a border, herb garden, rock garden, or butterfly garden. Rubbing the foliage on skin reportedly repels mosquitoes.
Anise hyssop has subtle but eye-catching chartreuse foliage. Its powder-blue, long-lasting flowers contrast nicely with its leaves.
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.
This low-mounding perennial has lobed, silver-edged foliage and small yellow flowerheads in autumn.
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
This tall, upright perennial has single flowers of various colors that grow along a spike. It blooms in early summer and midsummer.
This hollyhock is a multi-use plant that can be grown as a cut flower, used in large containers, or planted in the landscape. These big semi- to fully-double blooms reach 3 inches wide. Considered a first-year blooming biennial or short-lived perennial.Information provided by Santa Rosa Gardens.
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.
A. ficoidea ‘Red Threads’ is a slender-leaved perennial selection that doesn't wander, forming a textured carpet in shades of deep burgundy. A single plant makes a mound about 8 inches tall and 14 inches wide. It blooms on and off all year, but you may never notice. The small, pale flower buttons are held in the leaf axils, where they are nearly indistinguishable from the foliage unless you're paying close attention. Use 'Red Threads' at the base of taller plants in the border to provide vibrant color echoes or contrasts. Grow as a warm-season annual in cooler climates, mass the plants in beds, or use in a formal knot garden as the Victorians did.
'Yellow Form' Alternanthera is an easy-to-grow, tropical plant with a fast-spreading habit and pointed, chartreuse-yellow leaves. It forms a mat of color from spring's frost-free date to fall's first frost. Like others of this genus, it makes a great edging, bedding, or container plant. In formal landscapes, it can be used in a knot garden. It looks great with dark-leaved plants.
In summer, this colorful groundcover makes a 9-inch mound of saucer-shaped, deep blue flowers on long stalks.
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.
Stylish Shady Containers
Low light doesn't have to cramp your creativity or limit your plant choices
by Karen Chapman
A guide to growing, care, and propagation of rex begonias, plus some great cultivars
by Rita Randolph
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
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
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