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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
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 showstopper produces conspicuous, red-purple leaf sheaths with dense, purple domed flowerheads.
This is a vigorous grower. Its beautiful dark fruits, which arrive after the flowers, bring an abundance of birds.
Goat's beard is a perennial native to eastern North America and parts of Europe and Siberia. It is grown for its tall stature (up to 6 feet) and showy, cream-colored plumes of flowers in summer. The effect is that of a giant astilbe. Plants with male flowers produce showier and more erect plumes than plants with female flowers, whose plumes are more pendent and less creamy-white. Grow in a woodland garden or moist border, or at waterside.
Asparagus is a perennial vegetable whose edible shoots are harvested in spring. Male plants produce better crop yields because they do not flower or fruit. The foliage is garden worthy because of its tall size and masses of feathery, delicate texture. Female plants may self-seed abundantly. Plants do not like to be moved, so choose a permanent location. Foliage is useful in floral arrangements.
This unique species bears large, rounded leaves that resemble lily pads and seem to defy gravity.
This amazing baptisia is a cross between B. australis, the most common blue variety, and B. sphaerocarpa, a plant with yellow bloomer. The result is pea-like violet-purple flowers with dramatic yellow keels. It is long-lived, tough, and drought resistant, but it may take three or four gardening seasons to establish itself. Twilite Prairieblues™ blooms in late spring or early summer, When not in bloom, the plant remains attractive because of the lovely blue-green color of its trifoliate leaves, especially in spring. This plant is tall and will look good at the back of a border. -Stephanie Cohen, Plants to know and grow, Fine Gardening issue #120
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 plant resembles a rosy-purple poppy mallow that blooms all summer. The saucer-shaped flowers are held above prostrate red stems and fingered leaves.
'Coffee Cups' is an unusual and relatively recent introduction. It has nearly black stems and cup-shaped leaves. 'Coffee Cups' is a vigorous grower, and, with a height of 6 feet, it's a good choice for the back part of a border. -Andy Cabe, Regional Picks: Southeast, Fine Gardening issue #120
The heart-shaped leaves of 'Illustris' are huge, and their dark highlights are stunning. This elephant ear is a lover of moist shade, but does best with a little dappled sunlight. It will tolerate boggy conditions. -Julia Jones, Fine Gardening issue #120
This species has tiers of lacy foliage that form broad clumps, 3 feet high by 3 feet wide. Its hot pink flowers bloom from May to July.
This species is notable in stature, forming a giant mound and producing a profusion of airy white flowers on tall stems in late spring to midsummer and then dying down in midsummer to late summer. Colewort can reach 8 feet high and about half as wide. Grow in a large border or open woodland.
Long silvery stems, sometimes reaching 4 feet or more, bear silvery, small leaves. Use this striking plant as a groundcover or in containers.
Large, flat-topped flowerheads in shades of purple add soft color and texture to the summer and fall garden. The leaves are purple-tinged on thick stems with maroon spots. Butterflies love this eastern U.S. native.
This cultivar of the eastern North American native Joe Pye weed is shorter and bushier than the species. From late summer into fall, its domes of dusky pink flowers attract butterflies and other insects. The seedheads persist well into winter. Grow 'Gateway' in a border, meadow, or cottage garden. It does best in soil that does not dry out.
Large, domed flowerheads of pink, light purple, or off-white add soft color and texture to the summer and fall garden. The leaves are purple-tinged on thick stems suffused with maroon. This eastern U.S. native attracts butterflies from mid-summer to early fall.
This variety has dark, glossy evergreen leaves arranged in tight rosettes, and it produces yellow-green bracts in mid-spring and early summer.
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
Find out what all the buzz is about by planting these colorful perennials
by Sally Roth
10 Shrubs for Summer Color
These vibrant bloomers give even the showiest annuals and perennials a run for their money
by Paul Cappiello
Enchanting Japanese Maples
Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
by Francie Schroeder
Q&A Moving houseplants outdoors for the summer
by Tim Pollak
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