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This prostrate evergreen species produces a mass of richly textured leaves, making it an attractive groundcover for formal areas, rock gardens, or woodland beds. The leaves are thick, neatly rounded and formed, with bronzy undersides and autumn color that persists through the winter. In summer, it bears white flowers, which are sometimes followed by red fruits.
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 short-lived, tender perennial shrub native to the Canary Islands off the African coast sends up 6-foot white-furred stems cloaked with long, felted, arrow-shaped leaves and topped, summer to frost, with plumes of purplish violet flowers clasped by red-tipped calyxes. It grows up to 4 feet wide.
Found in the Great Basin deserts of the western U.S., Salvia dorrii is by far one of the most beautiful native Salvia species. A small, woody shrub, it comes into bloom in late spring with short spikes of showy purple bracts and blue flowers. The semievergreen foliage is distinctively silvery gray and highly aromatic. It grows to 18 inches high.
Giant-flowered purple sage has been winning over gardeners the past few years for its remarkable summer blooms and tough-as-nails demeanor. Native to the dry foothills and mountains of southern California, this sage is considered a woody shrub. It features showy, aromatic silver foliage and bicolored flower spikes with lavender-purple calyces and long, hummingbird-pollinated blue flowers. It grows from 24 to 36 inches high.
A familiar native shrub, American elderberry is commonly seen along streambanks and roadsides and in moist woodlands and thickets throughout eastern North America. It has pinnate leaves with toothed leaflets and small white flowers borne in large flattened clusters in summer. Purple-black, round fruit comes next, attracting wildlife to the garden. Elderberries typically grow to about 12 feet high, but they tolerate pruning to a smaller size. Fruit is edible when cooked.
Black elder forms an upright and bushy, but somewhat coarse, shrub with toothed green leaves. It bears scented, flattened clusters of white flowers in early summer, which mature into glossy black fruit. It has given rise to many cultivars with notable foliage. Sambucus is a good choice for a quick growing shrub and is suitable for mixed or shrub borders or for naturalizing in wild areas. Birds love the fruits of this genus, which have culinary attributes when cooked, but can cause illness if eaten raw, or if the poisonous seeds are consumed. Contact with leaves may irritate skin.
Valued for its flowers, foliage, and fruit, Black Beauty™ elderberry is a deciduous shrub that requires regular watering during its first few yearsbut will become more drought tolerant as it becomes established. Areas with moist soil are ideal. Black Beauty™ will grow 8 feet tall if left unpruned, but fairly severe pruning in the first year will keep the plant from looking leggy. Pruning will sacrifice the large pink flowers, but the plant will be much sturdier and have a better habit if you do. The flowers, which bloom in June, are large and have a lemony scent. The foliage is dark and finely cut. Elderberries are edible and can be used to make juice or jelly, if the birds don't get there first. -Teresa Smith, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #120
This choice specimen livens up the garden all season long with its stunning leaves of green splashed with gold. It bears flattened, creamy white flowers that mature into glossy black fruit. It grows more slowly than most elderberries. It makes an attractive specimen.
This vigorous cultivar has attractive dark green leaves with yellow margins that fade to white. In summer, it bears flattened clusters of creamy white flowers which mature in fall to glossy black fruit. Plants grow 10-20 feet tall and wide.
This choice specimen has a graceful habit with finely divided golden foliage that emerges as bronze. It is less susceptible to sun scorch than the other gold varieties. It bears creamy white flowers that mature into red fruits.
If you want a summer-flowering shrub with great fall color, look no further. Fritsch spirea jumps out with a striking red, orange, and yellow glow even brighter than the fall color of oaks and maples. It has coarser foliage than others in the genus, and if sheared back in spring, it produces giant summer blooms.
From the Fairytail series of dwarf lilacs, this petite cultivar bears single, light pink flowers in mid- to late season. It has a rounded, compact habit, 6 feet high by 5 feet wide. It shows good resistance to powdery mildew.
This fragrant hybrid (S. persica × S. vulgaris) has slightly nodding, 6-inch-long clusters of lilac-purple flowers. It forms a spreading shrub, 15 feet tall and wide.
This fragrant hybrid (S. persica × S. vulgaris) produces slightly nodding light-purple flower clusters to 6 inches long in midseason. It forms a spreading shrub, 12 feet tall and wide, and shows good disease resistance.
This early flowering hybrid produces fragrant, single white flowers. It forms a shrub 8 feet high by 10 feet wide, and exhibits autumn coloring. This hybrid and its offspring show some disease resistance.
This graceful hybrid produces fragrant, pale lilac flower clusters up to 4 inches long in late spring. The difference this lilac offers is its airy, finely textured foliage. It forms a spreading shrub 6 feet to 8 feet tall and wide.
This hardy, late-flowering hybrid bears perfumed rose-pink buds opening to pink flowers. It forms a shrub 10 feet high by 8 feet wide.
This species has an untraditional, spicy fragrance, and it is one of the most strongly scented lilacs. In midseason, it bears single, white-throated, pale purple flowers that open to white. It forms a shrub 10 feet high by 10 feet wide.
This strongly fragrant cultivar bears single light purple flowers in mid- to late season, and it exhibits maroon autumn foliage. It forms a compact shrub 8 feet high by 8 feet wide.
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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