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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 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.
'Pesto Perpetuo' basil not only produces copious amounts of leaves for cooking but also is easy on the eye. It has creamy white variegated leaves and a columnar habit. It does not flower, so nothing will detract from the foliage.
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
This plant is a creeping perennial that reaches 24 inches tall. Dark green leaves have a rich purple tint, and its purplish pink flower clusters appear from late spring through autumn. ‘Herrenhausen’ (Zones 5–8) displays masses of showy pink flowers with maroon bracts on purplish stems. ‘Hopleys’ (Zones 7–10) is taller (up to 36 inches) with large, long-blooming, deep pink flowers, and is a vigorous grower, more tolerant of heat than ‘Herrenhausen’.
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.
Purple shamrock's pretty foliage and dainty flowers make it a good choice for containers, borders, or indoors.
The old-fashioned shamrock houseplant is now high fashion. Several introductions from Proven Winners push this group to the fore for its elegant foliage; abundant, delicate flowers; and vigor. Only 6 to 10 inches high with a spread to 12 inches, this plant’s tiny, ¾-inch-wide, bronze-colored leaf clusters and bright yellow flowers are massed on trailing stems that spill over the sides of shaded window boxes and containers.
This clump-forming, semi-evergreen perennial has long prostrate stems and pewter-green foliage. Fragrant, bottlebrush-like white flowers are borne on 2- to 4-inch-long spikes in spring, as the foliage appears.
This stunning herbaceous woodland peony has upright red-mottled stems and dark green leaves that are elliptic or lance-shaped with rough margins. It bears usually solitary, single creamy white to pale pink blossoms that are cup-shaped and elegant. The blooms measure 3 to 4 inches across and have pale yellow stamens. Like all peonies, the flowers are with us for too short a time. They are followed by beautiful seedpods.
This plant is a beautiful addition to the garden from early spring until autumn. Red shoots with a crystalline dusting emerge in early April, followed by 5-inch-long, egg-shaped leaves that mature to a dark, reddish green. Each 18-inch stem bears a 2-inch-wide, chalice-like, single pure-white flower with yellow anthers and purple filaments. Mature seedpods open to reveal metallic-blue pea-sized fertile seeds and holly-berry red unfertilized seeds.
Panicum Ruby Ribbons’ soft blue-green foliage emerges in the spring on upright, clumping plants. The foliage takes on a wine-red color in early summer, which intensifies as the season progresses. Flower heads appear in late summer, followed by ornamental seed heads, which, if left uncut, provide long-lasting winter interest.
The 4- to 6-inch-wide blooms of 'Flamenco Dancer' poppy stand out in late spring and early summer with their true red color and fanciful fringes. It is a sport of the popular 'Turkenlouis'. After the flowers fade, this perennial will go dormant, so plant it near neighbors that will fill the vacancy.
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
Bulbs for Summer and Fall
You can plant these in spring for an array of bold flowers later in the year
by John E. Bryan
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
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