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Unlike other bugbanes, 'Hillside Black Beauty' offers deep purple-black foliage. From late spring to late summer, its dark hue makes a wonderful backdrop for colorful foliage and flowering shade plants. In fall, fragrant, cream-colored flowers appear on tall, wandlike stems. An added plus: this plant is deer resistant. --Michael Ruggiero, Regional Picks: Mid-Atlantic, Fine Gardening issue #127
A classic plant for both herb gardens and borders, anise hyssop is composed of erect branches of mint-and-licorice-scented, medium green leaves ending in fuzzy spikes of small lavender flowers. The plant grows to 3 to 5 feet tall and 1 foot wide and reseeds freely. The flowers are edible and are charming crumbled into salads. The flowers are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
This is the last of the ornamental onions to flower, when mop-like heads of rose-purple flowers appear with orange anthers. The flowers are impervious to frost or snow. Superior cultivars include ‘Ozawa’, with larger purple flower heads than the species. A white-flowered form known as A. thunbergii ‘Alba’ is a splendid plant, with cup-shaped florets sporting white stamens, yellow anthers, and green centers.
Arkansas blue star's delicate, willow-like foliage is topped with pale blue star-shaped flowers in spring. The light green foliage looks good all summer, turns a beautiful golden-yellow in fall, and can stand through most of the winter, adding interest especially when mixed with grasses and other attractive seedheads. It grows to almost 3 feet tall and wide.
A. italicum will add great color and diversity to the garden with their attractively marked leaves, which may be arrow- or spear-shaped. Leaves are veined with mid-green to white. In early summer, white spathes of flowers are followed by spikes of bright orange red berries.
Here's a fern with an upright habit and silvery fronds that give it a ghostly look, hence the name. Emerging new fronds have a shimmering whitish color that darkens slowly to a silvery green with burgundy accents. 'Ghost' spreads slowly by shallow rhizomes, eventuallly becoming an excellent ground cover. -Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
The dense, glossy foliage of this evergreen plant is splattered with yellow. Gold-dust plant can be planted near nearby tree roots, and it responds well to pruning. Combine it with yellow-blooming or variegated plants for appealing color harmonies. -Debra Lee Baldwin, Regional Picks: Southern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
'Golden Nugget' is a deciduous shrub with non-burning foliage. It is a slow grower (to only about 1 foot tall) and makes a good border plant, especially when planted with darker foliage plants or brightly colored flowers, or a groundcover. Grow in full sun for best color and berry production. It tolerates poor soils as long as drainage is good.The foliage has an orange cast for most of the season, which intensifies in the autumn.
Versatile, attractive and care-free ornamental grass with wheat-like appearance. Slender, upright, deep-green, lustrous foliage becomes effective by early spring and lasts all the way until winter. A cool season grass, 'Karl Foester' is upright and clump forming, with purplish-green, feathery plumes to 6'. It distinctively blooms in early summer rather than fall and must have winter chill to bloom. Long lived -- 25 years or more. -Santa Rosa Gardens
This versatile ornamental grass has slender, upright, deep-green foliage. A cool season grass, it is upright and clump forming, with purplish-green, feathery plumes that can reach 6 feet in height. It blooms in early summer rather than fall and must have winter chill to bloom.
Information provided by Santa Rosa Gardens.
Clematis integrifolia is a herbaceous, woody-based, upright, non-climbing perennial with a dense and somewhat sprawling habit. It bears solitary, nodding, bell-shaped flowers with slightly twisted violet to blue sepals and creamy white anthers from May to July. Sporadic blooming sometimes occurs throughout the summer. Blossoms mature to attractive, feathery, silver-green, or silvery brown seed heads.
This upright, suckering shrub has fragrant, white or pink terminal flower spikes in late summer. The blooms look like bottle brushes and attract butterflies and bees. Leaves turn a pleasant yellow in autumn.
‘Sixteen Candles’ summersweet is a newer cultivar of a popular native shrub. This compact selection reaches 3 to 5 feet tall. In summer, ‘Sixteen Candles’ is topped with aromatic, erect, butterfly-enticing white blooms for 4 to 6 weeks. In fall, the leaves turn an attractive yellow.
Lily of the valley's bell-shaped, sweetly scented flowers bloom in early spring. It likes partial to full shade and is perfect for a woodland garden. It may not be the best choice for your beds and borders because it tends to spread, but it is a perfect ground cover if you have a large shady spot under some trees.
'Blue Bird' is a Pacific Hybrid delphinium grown as an annual or biennial. Its mid-blue flowers have white centers. The flowers are large but short-lived and bloom on tall stems from early summer to midsummer. Grow at the back of a border or in the middle of an island bed. There is nothing quite like delphiniums in the garden.
Don't let its delicate appearance fool you: Western bleeding heart is hardy and tenacious. This elegant, herbaceous perennial spreads slowly from rhizomes to form drifts of soft blue-green, ferny foliage in shady woodland areas. Above the leaves in late spring, pink heart-shaped flowers hang gracefully from long, arched stems, attracting scores of hummingbirds but not the local deer. It is surprisingly drought tolerant during the summer months.
Originating in mountainous woodland and stony habitats from Europe to western Asia, yellow foxglove is tolerant of dry shade but flourishes with moisture. Arising in midsummer from neat clumps of fine-toothed foliage, a mass of soft yellow open bells, speckled brown inside, blooms along one side of a 3-foot-tall stem. Usually described as a perennial, it is more accurate to call it a biennial or short-lived perennial. If the flowering stalk is cut down after blooms have faded, it may rebloom in the fall. When a few flower stalks are left, the plant self-seeds.
This evergreen shrub can light up the dark corners of a garden. It grows quickly, and its branches are arched and somewhat spiny. Bright yellow, 3- to 4-inch-long leaves splashed are outlined in green. The twigs are a metallic copper color, and the undersides of the leaves are specled with a copper color, too. Tiny white flowers appear under the leaves in fall. They are hard to see, but very fragrant. Small orange fruit appear in spring. -Michael Lee, Fine Gardening issue #119
This hybrid produces masses of pure white bracts above finely textured, apple green foliage. It adds stunning texture and color to a border in partial shade.
This hybrid has petite green-and-cream variegated foliage with a hint of pink on the undersides. It produces chartreuse and apple green bicolored bracts on airy stems.
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Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
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Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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by Rita Randolph
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by Nancy Matthews
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by Kate Feely
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