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Foot-long blossoms are nocturnally fragrant, and pour out from narrow calyces of light yellow, to terminate in fluted, reflexed openings the hues of golden summer squash.
Few plants evoke tropicalia quite like the Brugmansias, with their voluminous tubular flowers that drip from imposing shrubs or small trees. They look fantastic in containers or plunged into a border, and the dramatic display persists from late spring until autumn. In cooler climates, they may be brought under glass or cut back and held dormant in a cool basement. All parts are highly toxic if ingested.
Foot-long, rich pink blossoms are nocturnally fragrant and pour out from narrow calyces to terminate in wide, flared openings.
The papaya is a herbaceous, fast-growing shrub that grows best in tropical and subtropical climates where it will flower continually, but it will perform in colder climates from high summer to early fall. It offers a striking sculptural presence to the landscape due to its lobed, 2-foot-across leaves and large, delicious fruit (sometimes reaching 20 pounds).
A native small tree found in wetlands from Minnesota to Florida and from New England to California, buttonbush can reach 8 to 15 feet tall and is often wider than it is tall. Prune it into a small multi-trunked tree to reveal the curly bark of its young stems and the punctuated pale spots of its older stems. Blooms are extremely rich in nectar and attract butterflies and other insects.
This large shrub offers a late-summer display of jasmine-like white flowers encased in red tepals and scent. Bright blue berries in autumn are accented by conspicuous bright, pinkish-red calyxes.
This cross of the European smoke bush (C. coggygria) and the American smoke tree (C. obovatus) is a gem in the garden thanks to its multiseason interest. Its iridescent spring foliage is green overlaid with red; then its large pink clouds of blooms in summer are followed by brilliant autumn foliage that ranges from red to orange. 'Grace' combines well with just about anything; asters, ornamental grasses, and Japanese maples are good places to start.
This bushy shrub or small tree has generated many notable cultivars, all of which add great textural qualities to the landscape. It has 6-inch-long frothy plumes that appear after the flowers and give a long-lasting, smoky haze to branch tips. Its green leaves are smooth and rounded and produce brilliant fall color.
This shrub or small tree has stunning dark red-purple foliage that turns scarlet in autumn. It has plume-like seed clusters, which appear after the flowers and give a long-lasting, smoky haze to branch tips.
This shrub or small tree has stunning deep purple foliage that turns orange-red in autumn. It has plume-like seed heads, which appear after the flowers and give a long-lasting, smoky haze to branch tips.
This tropical shrub or small tree may be grown in a mixed or shrub border; in colder climates, it does well in a temperate greenhouse. Flowers in shades of sky-blue, lilac, purple, or white blossom gracefully along arching branches in summer; they are followed by spherical, yellow fruit.
Autumn olive is a vigorous, deciduous shrub with pale yellow-white bell-shaped flowers to a half-inch long borne in late spring and early summer. Its silvery fruit turns red in fall and attracts birds. Wavy-margined leaves are silvery when they emerge and mature to bright green above.
This tree-like shrub bears pendent clusters of bell-shaped, creamy-white flowers with rose veins in late spring and early summer. In autumn, the foliage turns magnificent shades of orange and red.
Because it is a relative of the immensely popular burning bush (E. alatus), it isn't surprising that eastern wahoo has great fall color. This North American native grows as a small tree in the southern part of its range and as a large shrub on the Plains. The bright red of its fall foliage is amplified and extended by abundant clusters of scarlet fruits that persist after the leaves have fallen, providing color even into midwinter. Eastern wahoo is effective as an accent plant or when massed wherever a bold, surprising splash of color is desired.
Through the fall and into winter, pincushion hakea provides beautiful cut flowers for the holidays; the foliage and seedpods are also great for arrangements. You can prune it into a bushy shape or a slender, small tree. As a member of the Protea family, pincushion hakea does not like phosphorus fertilizer, and like most Australian plants, it prefers to be well mulched so that its specialized roots can extract nutrients from the mulch layer.
This vase-shaped, deciduous shrub, up to 12 feet tall and wide, has ascending branches and bright green leaves that turn yellow in autumn. It produces large yellow flowers in mid- and late winter on the bare branches. A cross between H. japonica and H. mollis.
This witch hazel is an upright shrub up to 12 feet tall and wide, with oval, softly hairy, mid-green leaves that turn yellow in autumn. Fragrant flowers are yellow, with crimped petals, appearing on bare branches in mid- and late winter.
This vase-shaped deciduous shrub grows up to 12 feet tall and wide, with ascending branches and bright green leaves that turn yellow in autumn. Clusters of sulfur-yellow flowers appear in mid- and late winter.
The native common witch hazel is an understory plant that becomes leggy if it has to reach for light, but in the open, it develops into a graceful, spreading shrub about 20 feet tall. Its broad leaves turn a clear, bright yellow in the autumn. The abundance of pale yellow fall flowers that accompanies the foliage comes as a wonderful late-season surprise. The deceptively fragile-looking blossoms that appear near the end of October seem to keep winter at bay for weeks.
This rounded, woody, evergreen shrub or small tree has lance-shaped, glossy dark green leaves with toothed margins. It bears 4- to 6-inch blossoms all summer. Solitary, five-petaled flowers 4 inches across range from single to ruffled and double. Colors include yellow, orange, pink, red, and combinations.
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Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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