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This rhizomatous perennial has erect or creeping stems and silvery leaves. In summer, it produces spikes of yellow flowers spotted with brown. A less invasive cultivar is 'Hermann's Pride'.
'Anne Greenaway' infuses the garden with excitement, with its bright chartreuse leaf margins. It grows up to 8 inches tall and 18 inches wide and is topped with lilac-mauve flowers in late spring. The stems root where they touch the soil, so it's easy to lift and transplant rooted stems to increase your stand. It makes a nice groundcover in a shady garden around ferns, hostas, heucheras, or geraniums.
Lamium is a genus with many cultivars that are outstanding foliage plants for the shade, most notably ‘White Nancy’. This evergreen ground cover’s beautiful, 1- to 2-inch-wide leaves are silvery white with green edges and have a quilted appearance. Clusters of white flowers appear from spring through summer.
The pale pink and yellow flowers of this evergreen perennial attract butterflies from late spring to frost. Lantana camara is mostly grown as a summer annual, but can be overwintered in a cool, dark location.
This hardy lavender stands out for its unusually large, dark blue-purple flowers, silvery green foliage, and heavy fragrance. It is often used in perfumes. Growing to 30 inches tall and nearly as wide, 'Grosso' has very long flower spikes and blooms from midsummer into autumn. It is especially attractive as an edging.
'Violet Intrigue' exhibits the typical handsome gray foliage of good lavenders, but its form and flowers are particularly noteworthy. Each stem is strongly upright, and requires no staking, and the blooms are a deep violet that remains vibrant even when temperatures rise. Other than occasional deadheading, no additional maintenance chores are required.
This Shasta daisy cultivar has especially large white flowers with yellow centers held on 3- to 4-foot-tall, strong stems that don't need staking. It also blooms later than most of the other cultivars. It originated in a Southern garden, but it is very adaptable to other climates. The masses of crisp, bright blooms are a mainstay of the summer border.
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.
This evergreen perennial has broad, lance-shaped mid-green leaves to 4 inches long, tinted with purple and borne in basal rosettes up to 18 inches in diameter. Open, funnel-shaped, pink-to-cream flowers to 3 inches across appear once in early spring.
This tuberous perennial has dense clusters of linear, rough leaves borne in basal tufts to 16 inches long. Dense spikes, up to 18 inches long, of button-like lavender-purple flowerheads are borne in late summer and early autumn. Blooms open from the top of the inflorescences downward.
This hardy herbaceous perennial has grass-like, strappy leaves and 3- to 5-foot-tall spikes of purple-pink flowers in late summer and early fall. Native to the eastern and southern United States, this tough perennial prefers reliably moist soil but will tolerate drought. It provides a bold, vertical element to mixed borders and attracts bees and butterflies. It has been observed to be resistant to deer browsing and self-sows freely. The flowers are suitable for cutting.
This cultivar of a U.S. prairie plant offers the garden spikes of purple, fuzzy-looking flowers that open from the top down on plants up to 2 feet tall and 18 inches wide. The show starts in late summer and attracts butterflies and bees. Grow it in a moist meadow or border. The flowers are also beautiful in a vase.
In early spring, fleshy stems unfurl and are topped by rounded burgundy leaves. By June, this plant looks splendid, with upturned leaves and their rich purple undersides. 'Britt Marie Crawford' may wilt in the hot noonday sun, but soft shade soon revives it. At the start of summer, right golden daisy-like flowers bloom, contrasting boldly with the foliage. -Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
This evergreen foliage plant has large, rounded, leathery leaves and daisy-like yellow flowers. It looks great in the border or in containers.
Often used by florists, 'Star Gazer' lily has bright crimson flowers with purple spots and dark edges. These lilies grow to about 3 feet tall, so they generally don't need staking.
Sea lavender is a rosette-forming perennial with mid- to dark-green leaves to 12 inches long, occasionally to 24 inches. Deep lavender-blue flowers are borne in panicles made of spikelets on wiry stems.
Blue flax is a short-lived perennial with blue-green needlelike leaves on graceful 2-foot-tall stems. Satiny sky blue flowers, borne on wiry stems, appear in late spring, last through mid-summer, and open fully only on sunny days. Small rounded seedheads form in summer.
'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
Cardinal flower has reddish purple stems and lance-shaped, often glossy, bright green leaves tinged with bronze. Bold red spikes of tubular two-lipped flowers with reddish purple bracts appear in summer and early autumn.
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
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Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
A guide to growing, care, and propagation of rex begonias, plus some great cultivars
by Rita Randolph
PLANTING PLAN: A deer-resistant bed that shines in fall and winter
by Nancy Matthews
Q&A Economical edging for beds
by Kate Feely
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