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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
A. italicum will add great color and diversity to the garden with their attractively marked leaves, which may be arrow- or spear-shaped. Leaves are veined with mid-green to white. In early summer, white spathes of flowers are followed by spikes of bright orange red berries.
'Hachita' has narrow, blue-green leaves that form dense mounds. In summer, elongated seedheads add visual interest. This tough, drought-tolerant grass thrives in sand or clay soil with full-sun exposure. It needs a setting with good drainage, as it won't thrive in wet conditions. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
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.
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.
Don't let its delicate appearance fool you: Western bleeding heart is hardy and tenacious. This elegant, herbaceous perennial spreads slowly from rhizomes to form drifts of soft blue-green, ferny foliage in shady woodland areas. Above the leaves in late spring, pink heart-shaped flowers hang gracefully from long, arched stems, attracting scores of hummingbirds but not the local deer. It is surprisingly drought tolerant during the summer months.
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.
This species produces erects stems of bronzy green leaves and greenish yellow bracts in early summer. In autumn, its leaves turn shades of red, orange, and gold.
This notable species produces erect stems of bronzy burgundy leaves and purple-green bracts in early summer. It looks exceptional when placed near contrasting plants. The foliage may be cut back after flowering to produce fresh growth.
Long-lasting, terminal clusters of lime green bracts and flowers punctuate the meandering 'arms' of this ground-hugging species. The chalky seafoam foliage looks great spilling over a stone wall in a rock garden or at the edge of any bed.
'Dark Reiter', a fairly new cultivar, has a short mounded habit and dissected dark leaves. Bright lilac-blue blossoms appear in spring, and trimming the plant back after flowering encourages more blooms in fall and helps maintain its neat habit. 'Dark Reiter' is slow growing, making it perfect for a rock garden. Like many other geraniums, it does not appeal to deer. Pair silver-toned foliage plants with 'Dark Reiter' for a stunning effect. -Teresa Smith, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #120
Year-round gray-green foliage persists through shade and snow and is fairly deer and rabbit resistant. Flowers appear in early spring with daffodils and tulips. This cultivar produces flowers that sit well above the foliage and point upward, which adds to its showiness.
Heuchera make excellent foliage plants for sun to part shade gardens. With its burgundy stems and pale pink flowers, 'Pink Lipstick' provides great color to a border.
'Silver Dragon' lilyturf features thick, tufted evergreen clumps of linear silver and white leaves with a shimmering silver stripe running down the arching blades. Dense spikes of violet-mauve flowers are borne on purple-green stems in autumn, maturing to black berries.
Lilyturf is a great choice for problem sites, such as the dry shade under a tree canopy. 'Variegata' is a vibrant, grass-like plant with green foliage, striped with cream. Leaves are wider and more blunt at their tip than grasses, and in warmer climates, the foliage persists through the winter. Clumps run from 1 to 1-1/2 feet tall and half again as wide. Spikes of small blue-violet flowers appear in late September and are followed by dark purple berries. -Lou Anella, Regional Picks: Southern Plains, Fine Gardening issue #127
Like other creeping myrtles, 'Illumination' is a tough evergreen ground cover for shade that will grow in almost any soil. Its hallmark is its bright gold leaves that are edged with a border of irregular green. Periwinkle-blue flowers appear in spring. Use 'Illumination' as a shade ground cover or in hanging baskets. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
This annual series is comprised of dwarf, compact plants, 10 to 12 inches tall and half as wide. They bloom all summer with fully double blossoms, to 4 inches wide, in apricot, ivory, red, yellow, pink, and many shades in between.
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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