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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 deciduous, mat-forming perennial produces everlasting flowers. It is a native prairie plant that has stem and leaf bottoms covered with white hairs and whitish flower heads that form in dense clusters. Male and female flowers are produced on separate plants.
This is the bronze-purple form of the common Queen Anne's lace. It produces beautiful, highly fringed, lacy foliage in a dusky purple.
This is a dwarf astilbe with attractive red-green leaves and reddish pink flowers in broad, dense conical groups. Its blooms appear mostly in summer.
The broad silvery leaves of ‘Ursula’s Red’ have a showy burgundy band at the center of the leaves in spring. This plant can double in size in a single growing season, as it spreads from rhizomes. Though deer do like it, it may simply grow more fronds and not show any lasting damage. --Michael Ruggiero, Regional Picks: Mid-Atlantic, Fine Gardening issue #127
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
Rosettes of cabbage foliage are grown as annuals for fall and winter interest. Color intensifies in cooler temperatures (below 50°F). Good for bedding and containers.
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.
From late spring to summer, this species produces clusters of brilliant blue flowers over ferny foliage. It is the parent of many of the rapidly expanding selection of choice blue cultivars.
This choice corydalis produces fragrant clusters of periwinkle-blue flowers and ferny foliage infused with purple hues. It is similar to 'Blue Panda,' yet is slower to spread and blooms more reliably during the summer.
This purple-leaved hybrid has Crinum bulbispermum in its blood, so it is more cold hardy than many other purple-leaved crinums. In spring, 'Sangria' sends up 2-foot-long leaves (it will stay evergreen in frost-free climates). 'Sangria' crinum serves as a superb substitute for phormiums, though it is somewhat less upright. It is grown for its foliage alone or for its pink flowers, which appear in the spring. -Andy Cabe, Regional Picks: Southeast, Fine Gardening issue #120
With its deep purple-black leaves and brilliant summer blooms, 'Bishop of Llandaff' is a fine addition to the sunny bed or border. The 4- to 6-inch-round red-petaled flowers have deep purple and yellow centers, which are set off nicely by the plant's dark foliage. Use this long-stemmed cultivar in cut-flower arrangements. -Gerald Gibbens, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue#120
Dianthus 'Bath's Pink' is a stunning, wide-spreading ground cover with grassy, blue-green foliage and pink flowers. Use it to edge a bed or grow it in your rock garden for a splash of cool color. To keep its blooms going, be sure to deadhead.
Golden yellow foliage emerges from the ground in early spring and is soon accompanied by rosy-pink broken hearts that open in succession for nearly a month as the stems elongate.
Early in the season, the thin, heart-shaped leaves of this plant have a red tinge, which turns to bronze in fall. Plant red epimedium along a path, where its delicate foliage and tiny spring flowers can be admired. -Marty Hair, Regional Picks: Upper Midwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
Longspur barrenwort is a clump-forming, deciduous, rhizomatous perennial. Leaves, light green and flushed bronze when young, are heart-shaped with spiny margins. Four-petaled white, yellow, pink, or purple flowers, hanging in clusters, appear in mid- and late spring.
'Wudang Star' is a clump-forming, evergreen perennial with spiny, glossy foliage. New leaves emerge with bronzy pink edges before turning green in summer. Loose spikes of star-shaped white flowers, borne in spring, have prominent yellow stamens.
This bulbous perennial has striking reddish purple, strap-like leaves and foot-long purple flowers that resemble pineapples in late summer. Grow in a sunny border, container, or greenhouse. Plants used outdoors may be overwintered in a frost-free location. The species is native to South Africa.
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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