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This plant produces 3- to 4-inch-diameter, slightly scented flowers sporadically during summer, increasing in late summer through autumn. Intricate blossoms have an outer ruffle of petals and sepals; an inner disc of filaments composed of rings of blue, white and purple; and a central “antenna.” Deeply lobed dark green leaves cover stems that grasp supports with tendrils. Blue passion flower can reach 10 feet tall in one season. The ovoid, orange-yellow fruit is edible.
This deciduous tree has thick shoots and large, lobed, bright green leaves. Fragrant pinkish lilac flowers appear in late spring with the foliage. When grown as a perennial, its robust shoots become sturdy stems 2 inches in diameter, with mammoth leaves as much as 2 feet across. Paulownia tomentosa can grow to 12 feet tall in a single season.
An excellent architectural specimen, New Zealand flax has a striking geometric shape and intriguingly colored foliage. Rigid, upright leaves to 10 feet long grow in a clump. Cultivars come in chocolate-brown or a mixture of cream, pink, and green stripes. In summer, this Phormium produces a 12-foot-tall spike of tubular red flowers.
This is an upright evergreen shrub with lance-shaped leaves. Foliage emerges bright red or bronze, turning a leathery dark green. Small white flowers appear in mid- to late spring.
'Brilliantissima' rivals hollies (Ilex spp.) in the quantity and crimson color of its fruit. The quarter-inch-diameter, crab apple-like berries hang in clusters amid brilliant foliage that matures to scarlet. Like the species, this cultivar develops into a handsome, multistemmed, vase-shaped shrub that reaches 8 to 12 feet tall and about half as wide.
This clumping bamboo is native to eastern and central China and can reach 15 feet tall and almost as wide. After two or three years, slender green culms turn a lustrous black. The foliage is abundant and dark green, making a stunning combination with the stems. Grow as screening, in large containers, or in a woodland setting where the stems can be appreciated.
This neat, rounded shrub has given rise to many noteworthy cultivars. It grows to 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide, producing drooping clusters of delicate white blossoms in winter and spring. Use this shrub in a woodland, rock garden, container, or as a foundation plant.
Developed by the National Arboretum, 'Teton' pyracantha has a striking upright form, reaching 12 feet tall or more, and orange to golden yellow fruit. It is also resistant to fireblight and scab. Less hardy than some other cultivars, only to Zone 6.
A bushy, deciduous, slow-growing shrub with finely textured, scalloped leaves, this plant grows to 12 feet tall and almost as wide. 'Asplenifolia' bears clusters of green flowers, followed by round red fruit that ripens to black in the fall. Grow in a shrub border or as hedging. All parts may cause severe discomfort if ingested.
This native azalea, winner of the 2007 Georgia Gold medal award, will thrive in heat and humidity, which is why it is a good choice for the South. Large, fragrant yellow blooms appear in early spring. Reportedly pest- and disease free, 'Admiral Semmes' is a progeny of Exbury hybrid R. 'Hotspur Yellow' and R. austrinum. -Allan Armitage, Plants to know and grow, Fine Gardening issue #119
Royal azalea has large, fragrant pink blooms in spring. This large-leaved azalea also has purple-hued foliage in spring, turning velvet green in summer, and finally fading to yellow in autumn.
Lemon-lime foliage, fuzzy stems, and intense fall color make this sumac cultivar a standout. It grows into an upright, rounded form about 6 feet tall and as wide. New growth emerges chartreuse. Fall brings leaves of yellow, scarlet, and orange. Flowers are yellowish green and followed, on female plants, by hairy, dark red fruit. This plant spreads by suckers and can be invasive. The species is native to North America.
This climber produces an endless display of fragrant apricot-yellow blossoms. It grows to about 12 feet high and makes the perfect vertical accent in the garden.
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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
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by Nancy Matthews
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