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“Soft caress,” indeed! You’ll barely recognize this shade dweller as an Oregon grape when it sends up its long slender foliage without a single thorn. Its spikes of fragrant, lemon yellow flowers bloom from fall through winter, and will add a jolt to any shady bed. But the large clusters of silver-blue berries that follow the blooms are what I look forward to most. For the best results, give this drought-tolerant perennial afternoon shade, well-draining soil, and plenty of water the first year. -Leslie Finical Halleck, Fine Gardening # 147 (October 2012), page 74
Horehound is a spreading perennial with scalloped, toothed, gray-green leaves, white-felted beneath, to 2 inches long. Small tubular flowers open in whorls in late spring, varying from tepid gray and pale lilac to greenish white.
Mazus reptans is a mat-forming perennial with rosettes of lance-shaped toothed leaves. It spreads quickly through rooting stems. From late spring to mid-summer, it bears 2- to 5-flowered racemes of snapdragon-like purple-blue flowers with lower lips spotted with yellow and red.
A native perennial shrub that grows to about 2 feet tall and wide and covers itself the whole season with honey-scented, white and yellow daisy flowers. The foliage is typical of the aster family. Plant en masse in a well-drained border or use in a rock garden. Blackfoot daisy can be short-lived.
This clump-forming perennial has light blue to purplish blue pendulous flowers that open from pink buds atop 16- to 24-inch stems in mid- to late spring. Elliptic to ovate, hairless, bluish green leaves yellow and die back once the flowers fade after about 10 days.
Sprays of long, tubular buds spark into a fiery scarlet and fade to a pale cream on this annual climbing vine. A single flower holds tints of yellow, warm pink, orange, and red as if a watercolorist had laid down colors one layer at a time. As the bud matures, the colors wash away, leaving a pale blossom pushed open at the tip by protruding anthers. From a distance, the plant seems to be covered in hundreds of brightly lit candles. This vine also produces rich, bronzy-purple new growth which ages to a lovely deep green. The heavily indented, trilobed leaves resemble a hawk's strong wings, giving the plant the look of birds in flight. The foliage stays intact and healthy until frost. The bottom of the vine sheds its leaves as the season progresses, so disguising its bare base behind lower-growing plants is a must.
This bushy perennial has oval, deep green leaves on branched stems. In summer, blooms appear: fragrant red, pink, magenta, yellow or white flowers with a delicate, faded-vanilla aroma. Flowers open in late afternoon and die by morning.
Native to the southwestern U.S., California, and Mexico, wild four o'clocks cover themselves with hundreds of purple-pink, petunia-like blooms that open in unison in the afternoon or in the morning on cloudy days. Their musky fragrance attracts their primary pollinator, the hawkmoth. Grow in a border. xeric garden, or rock garden.
Bee balm, a clump-forming perennial, bears minty-scented scarlet, pink, or purple flowers in midsummer on branching, square stems. Leaves are aromatic as well. This native of eastern North America attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
Attractive, glossy, fan-shaped leaves and creamy white bell-shaped flowers are borne in dense panicles for several weeks in spring. After flowering is complete, green leaves turn a rich burgundy color with reddish orange highlights on their margins.
An oversize tender perennial, blood banana has large, fleshy, rubberlike leaves with dark markings. The foliage is green with random reddish purple blotches. On mature plants, orange or red flowers develop into inedible orange fruits. -Julia Jones, Designing with annuals, Fine Gardening issue #120
This short-lived perennial or biennial has ovate to lance-shaped, velvety gray-green leaves to 4.5 inches long. Myriad saucer-shaped blue or white flowers with yellow eyes are borne in clusters from spring to early summer.
This elegant fern-like herb has a mounding form and anise-flavored bright-green leaves. In late spring, it bears compound umbels of star-shaped white flowers, followed by shiny, ridged brown seeds.
This mound of lavender-blue flowers and aromatic, grayish green leaves up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide is great as edging or in a border, herb, or rock garden. It is an easy to grow, prolific bloomer that seems to be deer resistant. It blooms the whole summer and tolerates some shade. It also looks great with roses or on walls.
This cultivar is a clump-forming perennial with toothed gray-green leaves and larger flowers than the hybrid. It flowers profusely and long, especially if sheared. The blue-purple flowers are small but abundant, and the foliage is aromatic.
This compact Nepeta retains the non-reseeding quality of its popular parent 'Walker's Low' at one third its size. Blue-green foliage contrasts nicely with lavender-blue flowers for a long blooming window from mid-May through September. -Star Roses
This new compact catmint, with the cultivar name 'Psfike', only reaches 8 to 10 inches tall and 12 to 16 inches wide, the perfect size for containers, bed edges, or other small nooks and crannies. It features the same silvery foliage and summer lavender blooms that we know and love, and thrives in full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil in Zones 4 to 9.
'Little Red' is a dwarf selection of oleander, which is a large evergreen shrub. Its flowers are deep red and bloom all summer long. This plant is tough and drought-tolerant.
This short nicotiana bears fragrant, flat, star-like flowers in many colors: crimson, purple, wine, rose, pink, lime green, and white. It is a day-bloomer with uniform size and compact habit. Cultivars vary in height: from 'Domino' (12 inches), 'Nicki' (20 inches), and 'Sensation' (36 inches), up to 'Grandiflora' (48 inches), as well as flower color and foliage. Blooms face upward or horizontally and remain open in full sun.
The yellow-green trumpet-shaped flowers of 'Lime Green' flowering tobacco mix well with many other colors in the garden. Growing to 2 or 3 feet tall, this annual's flowers attract hummingbirds and are fragrant at night.
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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