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There are many cultivars available of this fast-growing annual. They are best used as bedding, edging, or container plants. Panicles of blue, pink, purple, or white flowerheads arise from oval, downy leaves in midsummer and continue until frost. They have a soft, fuzzy appearance and attract butterflies.
The outside of the spathe is the color of dark chocolate, and the inside, milk white and as smooth as marble. Its hood sweeps up to an arrogant point, exposing its sumptuous white lining and the thick blunt spadix, which is also milk white. This plant produces two leaves per tuber, one leaf with three lobes and one with five. Sometimes they are mottled with silver, which makes them very handsome, at least until the plant goes dormant in summer.
The rounded, lustrous leaves of this native plant form an appealing green ground cover. This plant produces beautiful, 2- to 4-inch, glossy green heart-shaped leaves. In spring, you'll find interesting, mauve-purple flowers hidden under its foliage. -Marty Hair, Regional Picks: Upper Midwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
This is a slow-growing ginger, but worth the wait. Its round evergreen green leaves have a prominent silver-white mottling.
Swan River daisy's lacy foliage and small but profuse blue-purple flowers have a long season of impact in the garden. Its compact, bushy shape, pretty fragrant flowers, and gray-green leaves make it attractive from planting time through frost. It flowers so heavily that the foliage is often obscured. 'Blue Zephyr' has especially fine foliage and only reaches about a foot high. It is excellent in hanging baskets, window boxes, or other containers, or at the front of a bed or border.
Upright, open bell-shaped flowers completely cover the foliage of this late-blooming Campanula for several months in summer. This small plant is suitable for the front of the border or a rock garden. Numerous cultivars are available.
This low, mat-forming plant has blue-purple flowers in summer.
Clematis integrifolia is no longer only blue. This selection produces progeny with pink, white, and lavender blooms from midspring until late summer. The flowers are followed by attractive seed heads in fall. It has a compact, herbaceous form and grows to just 10 to 14 inches tall.
Ground morning glory is a trailing low grower with a profusion of funnel-shaped lavender flowers from summer to early autumn.
This species produces mauve-pink, purple, or white flower spikes in spring over deeply divided gray-green leaves that are barely 10 inches tall.
This compact species forms broad mats of blue-gray linear leaves and is perfect for a rock garden setting. The purplish-pink flowers are solitary, toothed, and deliciously fragrant.
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.
'Profusion' fleabane is a carpeting, rhizomatous, woody-based perennial with lax, branching stems and abundant yellow-centered white flowers in summer. Blossoms fade to pink and purple. Foliage is hairy and grayish green. Excellent in containers.
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.
This attractive groundcover blooms all summer and is tolerant of diverse habitats. It has glossy leaves and notched, 1.25-inch lilac-pink flowers with darker veins.
Deeply cut plum-purple leaves emerge in spring and stay true to color throughout the season. Lavender-blue flowers bloom beginning in late spring. 'Midnight Reiter' grows to only about 6 or 8 inches tall and twice as wide. More shade causes the foliage to be greener.
A profusion of delicate, magenta-pink, upward-facing blossoms cover this plant over a long period. The leaves are deeply divided and add texture to the plant's rounded form.
'Marine' heliotrope has a compact form with broadly oval to lance-shaped, wrinkled leaves tinged with purple. In summer, it bears a profusion of fragrant deep violet-blue flowerheads up to 6 inches across.
A fast grower, 'Little Aurora' has cupped, puckered leaves and a metallic sheen, with soft-lavender flowers from late June into early July.
Beautiful variegation brightens the green and grey mottled foliage. A wide creamy-golden margin blends to the edge of the cut-leaf foliage. Its spreading branches mingle softly with its garden neighbors. Blooming in early fall, 12- to 15-inch stems produce light lavender aster-like flowers with a yellow center.
Lewisia cotyledon is an evergreen perennial of incredible beauty and well-balanced proportions. Fleshy leaves emerge in flat rosettes of spoon-shaped dark green leaves. Funnel-shaped flowers to 1 inch across are borne in compact panicles. The true species has candy-striped pink flowers. Hybrids bloom in shades from white to magenta.
'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
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.
Black mondo grass has straplike, shiny black foliage and grows in little tufts. The grasslike foliage looks good with chartreuse foliage, variegated woodland plants, and with its own flowers, which bloom in midsummer. Young leaves start out with a greenish hue that soon turns to black. The flowers are bell shaped and can be pink, pale violet, or white, and are followed by fleshy black seeds that may remain on the plant all winter. This perennial is evergreen in mild winters or in the warmer portions of its range. It looks stunning in a shady container planting. -Lou Anella, Regional Picks: Southern Plains, Fine Gardening issue #127
Redwood sorrel is a creeping native perennial with shamrock-shaped leaves and cup-shaped pink, lilac, or white flowers over a long period from spring to fall. It makes a nice groundcover.
A dense, vigorous, mat-forming ground cover, creeping phlox has short flower stems from 3 to 12 inches tall. The flowers can be pale lavender-blue, rose-pink, medium violet, or white, with unnotched petals and a yellow center.
Hens & chicks are always a welcome sight, and this exciting 'Black' variety is a newer take on the old favorite.
This new cultivar of a treasured favorite is as cute as a button. With leaves about the size of a dime, 'Silky Fleece' has the same great soft, silky texture and silver color as other lambs' ears, just in a smaller package, growing to about 10 inches tall and wide. Lilac-plum flower spikes rise above the foliage from mid- to late summer. Grow it as edging, in containers, or in rock gardens.
This perennial species is one of the most delicate of Thalictrums, with tiny foliage reminiscent of maidenhair ferns. It bears small, nodding, long-lasting flowers of a unique yellowish plum-brown. It grows to about 3 feet tall and wide.
Wishbone flower is a small, bushy annual that is especially valuable because it blooms abundantly in shady conditions. The species has lilac-blue flowers with deep purple lower lips and a yellow-blotched throat. Cultivars are available in many colors including pink, rose, white, and burgundy. It's a great choice for edging and containers. Container plants may be brought indoors for winter bloom.
This trailing perennial is grown for its foliage. Fleshy leaves have two silvery stripes and purple undersides. Flowers bloom intermittently throughout the year. Wandering Jew, a common houseplant, is native to Southern Mexico.
In spring, the foliage of this petite species emerges a deep purple-black-green and is topped by white blooms with rippled petals. As plants mature, the foliage becomes medium green, and the flowers turn pink, then lavender-purple. Dwarf wakerobin grows to only 8 inches tall and readily forms colonies.
Creeping myrtle is a fast-spreading, 4- to 8-inch-tall, evergreen groundcover with shiny green leaves borne in pairs on long, arching stems. Star-like, 1-inch-wide blue flowers bloom for one month in spring. Cultivars include 'Bowles,' which blooms sporadically throughout the growing season, and variegated vinca, with creamy white-and-green leaves.
A hardworking, compact perennial, ‘Etain’ violet forms well-behaved clumps and blooms from time to time from spring through fall. The attractive, fleshy, bright green foliage needs protection from slugs. -Sylvia Matlock, Regional Picks: Northwest, 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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