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"Thorny but irresistible" best describes this low-maintenance, elfin barberry. Tiny leaves are smothered in coral-colored buds opening to bright yellow-orange spring flowers. These, in turn, produce silver-frosted, blue-black berries in fall. 'Corallina Compacta' is evergreen, tolerates most soil types, and is pest-free and drought tolerant once established.
Though its leaves are small, this semi-deciduous shrub stands out in the landscape. Littleleaf cordia has a prolifically branching, slightly open form that looks good year-round. Its roughly textured, dark gray-green foliage contrasts nicely with its coppery brown young stems. From late spring into fall, branch tips bear clusters of pristine, white, funnel-shaped flowers to provide a visually cooling effect during the peak of summer heat. It grows to 6 to 8 feet tall and wide.
This native shrub dogwood is more compact than the species with semiglossy, emerald green foliage and showy, white fruit. Purple fall leaf color and rosy pink pedicels make this gray dogwood a fine choice for the woodland edge. Its silvery gray bark in winter adds interest into another season. White flowers in the spring add to the list of what it offers. Plant this dogwood in the landscape where it will be seen in the fall and winter. It rarely suckers.
Despite a soft, delicate appearance, trailing indigo bush is one of the toughest groundcovers around. The feathery, silvery green compound foliage makes the clusters of tiny, rosy purple flowers stand out at close range. The blooms, which occur most heavily in spring and summer, return sporadically the rest of the year. This plant is excellent for stabilizing soil on slopes because its stem nodes root wherever they come in contact with the ground.
A member of the rose family (Rosaceae), Apache plume has single, white, rose-like flowers in a fine-textured shrub up to 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Flowering occurs from late spring until late summer, and is followed by clouds of showy, pink, feater-duster-like seed heads that are just as showy as the flowers.
This stunning shrub blooms all year in some climates. A fast grower, its large, moonlight-colored flowers and finely divided, gray foliage are a must for any southern-temperate garden. Frost and drought tolerant once established, it attracts bees and hummingbirds and makes an excellent screening shrub.
Leatherleaf mahonia is a thick shrub with a formal feel. Its stiff, green-blue foliage looks something like holly foliage, and in spring, airy clusters of tiny, golden yellow flowers appear. These are followed in fall by inky blue berries. Consider this plant for a a mixed-shrub foundation planting, or use it as a hedge plant. -Nellie Neal, Regional Picks: Southeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
This short-lived shrub or small tree with feathery foliage is blanketed in late spring with fragrant, pea-shaped violet blooms with white wings. Though it is native to streamsides, scurf pea doesn't require extravagant watering and survives occasional drought. When the plants eventually die, they leave ample progeny and straight branches useful for garden stakes. Combine with azaleas and camellias, which bloom at the same time.
This vigorous shrub hugs the ground (to 2 feet tall) and spreads out to 8 feet, making it an excellent choice for stablizing a bank or smothering weeds. It has small yellow flowers, hairy red fruits, and glossy leaves that change to gorgeous orange-red in autumn.
This is considered one of the best white flowering currants, bearing long-lasting, pendent racemes of pungently spicy, pure-white blooms. Its yellow autumn leaves fall to expose mahogany stems in winter, which later make a striking contrast to chartreuse flower buds in spring. It grows to about 10 feet high and wide.
This native species flowers in summer, producing edible fruits and leaves suitable for making tea. It naturalizes in thickets, and grows well in wild areas in full sun or dappled shade.
This evergreen or deciduous subshrub is grown for its attractive, dark green aromatic foliage and its light pink to deep purple flowers, which blossom in summer and early fall. This garden workhorse can be used in troughs, containers, low hedges, knot gardens, rock gardens, or as edging.
This compact, evergreen subshrub has glossy, dark green leaves and grows to only 5 inches tall and 16 inches wide. It bears long-lasting, lavender flowers, and it is a great choice for low edging or for a rock garden.
This small deciduous shrub is covered in early spring with pink buds that burst open to reveal slightly fragrant, showy, flat-topped white flowers. Fleshy red fruit is borne in pendulous bunches in late August, darkening to all-black in October. Leaves fade to a dark maroon in the fall and winter months when planted in colder areas. Plants grow to about 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide. A cross between V. utile and V. × burkwoodii ‘Park Farm Hybrid’, this shrub is excellent as a foundation plant, as a specimen, in mass groupings, in a shrub border, or in containers. Evergreen to Zones 7 and 8.
These Mexican native bulbs actually offer demanding gardeners flowers on demand. They produce strappy foliage to 12 inches tall and clusters of buttery-yellow, starry, crocus-like blossoms two to three days after every rain in summer and early autumn. Or, if it doesn't rain, simply water and fertilize three days prior to your intended display, and the moisture will prompt the flowers to appear, hence the common name, rainflower. These bulbs are widely adaptable to diverse soil conditions, and may be grown in full sun to partial shade, but they prefer some shade.
Appropriately named, this open shrub has grayish green leaves and stiff, thorn-tipped branches. With inconspicuous, pale yellow-green flowers in late spring, the pea-size fruits that follow are a showy blue-black. These fruits appeal to birds, and the thorny branches are ideal protection for nesting. Graythorn is a fine backdrop for bold plantings of succulents.
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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