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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
Actaea racemosa is a native woodland perennial with white, somewhat fuzzy flowers in midsummer that wave above astilbe-like, deeply cut foliage. The flowers can be unpleasantly scented, thus the name "bugbane." Formerly in the genus Cimicifuga, this plant is great for use in a woodland garden or moist border.
This clumping woodland perennial with deep green foliage up to 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide bears spikes of fragrant white flowers 1 to 2 feet long in fall. Cultivars exist with varying leaf colors and forms.
This chocolate-leaved cultivar up to 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide bears compact spikes of white flowers in late summer. This plant may languish in very warm temperatures. The flowers remain ornamental for three to four weeks.
Unlike other bugbanes, 'Hillside Black Beauty' offers deep purple-black foliage. From late spring to late summer, its dark hue makes a wonderful backdrop for colorful foliage and flowering shade plants. In fall, fragrant, cream-colored flowers appear on tall, wandlike stems. An added plus: this plant is deer resistant. --Michael Ruggiero, Regional Picks: Mid-Atlantic, Fine Gardening issue #127
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 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.
This tall, woody-based perennial is distinguished by its elegant flowers. This cultivar displays the purity of a single, white, open-faced flower with a delicate center ring of golden yellow stamens. Every moment of floral development from bud to seed brings satisfying interest.
Japanese anemones are slightly taller than the species, sometimes growing to 4 feet. The creamy pink flowers with yellow centers rise above the foliage on branched stems from midsummer to autumn. This perennial is beautiful in the woodland garden or border and planted in masses, although they can become weedy in some areas.
Japanese anemones are slightly taller than the species, sometimes growing to 4 feet. The deep rose-pink semi-double flowers with yellow centers rise above the foliage on branched stems from midsummer to autumn. This perennial is beautiful in the woodland garden or border and planted in masses, although they can become weedy in some areas.
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.
This is a short-growing aster with lilac-blue flowers and creeping rootstocks. Many cultivars exist. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.
Strong, almost woody, stems bear large sprays (to 10 inches) of violet-purple flowers.
Boltonias are vigorous perennials grown for their sprays of aster-like flowers, which appear above clean, gray-green foliage. Their vigorous nature makes them suitable for naturalizing. They are also great in the border (and for cutting), but will benefit from frequent dividing to keep in bounds, and may be cut back in late spring for more compact plants.
Boltonias are vigorous perennials grown for their sprays of aster-like flowers, which appear above clean, gray-green foliage. Their vigorous nature makes them suitable for naturalizing. They are also great in the border (and for cutting), but will benefit from frequent dividing to keep in bounds, and may be cut back in late spring for more compact plants. 'Snowbank' produces masses of white flowers in late summer.
The heart-shaped leaves of this perennial may stretch to 12 inches across. In mid- to late summer, showy white flower umbels add to this plant’s drama.
This 3-foot-tall canna from the 1920s has impossibly deep, pure-rose flowers recalling orchids and leis. It's an old French variety.
A great canna to start with if you're convinced you hate them is 'Madame Paul Caseneuve', from 1902. The pearly-bronze leaves and almost purple stems of this 3- to 5-foot-tall antique beauty are the perfect foil for its elegant, sensual flowers of soft pink shading to peach and apricot.
Growing to 6 or 7 feet, 'Sémaphore' features slender, dark-bronze leaves topped by spikes of narrow-petaled flowers of an unusual glowing color that's not quite yellow and not quite orange; perhaps flickering tongues of flame would be the best description. It is a Victorian classic from 1895.
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Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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