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A 2-foot-high evergreen shrub native to the woods and woodland edges of the Pacific Northwest, mahonia gives a shady area three seasons of interest. Erect racemes covered with clear yellow flowers rise from the plant's leaf axils or from the main stem tip in spring. In contrast to these upright blooms are long, elegant, compound leaves made up of leaflets with spiny edges. In fall, some leaves turn a lovely wine-red. During summer, clusters of berries mature to dark blue with a powdery whitish coating.
A Michelia hybrid, bred in New Zealand by Mark Jury, with beautiful lightly fragrant flowers blushed lilac pink and evergreen dark green foliage. It is ideal as a specimen shrub or as a hedge.
In autumn, this unique specimen creates a spectacular, billowy inflorescence of massed, vibrant pink, airy flowers on 4-foot stems. It is noted for its tolerance to poorly drained soil. It is possibly hardy to Zone 6 with protection.
Yellow-white flowers appear in late spring, followed by prolific berries that ripen from green to bright-red or purple in fall. The elegant foliage turns fiery red in fall. There are low, ground-hugging Nandina varieties; medium-sized shrubs for mid-border; and tall, bushy types for the back of the border.
Slightly more compact than classic Boston ferns, this golden-leaved selection features striking chartreuse fronds that prefer shade but will tolerate intermittent sun. It shimmers from a distance and blends beautifully with impatiens, begonias, and caladiums in mixed containers. Introduced in 2006.
Oleander is a tall, upright to spreading shrub with lance-shaped, deep green to grayish green leaves. Clusteres of up to 80 pink, red, or white flowers appear in summer. Numerous cultivars are available, varying in bloom color, fragrance, and size, as well as shrub size and leaf variegation.
This dwarf, non-fruiting olive cultivar is an evergreen tree reaching 4 to 6 feet high and wide. It has attractive dark green leaves.
This evergreen, perennial succulent has pudgy, swollen, deep green stems which resemble a pickle, similar to those of the iceplant. Flowers begin as pearl-sized, pale mauve capsules sitting atop succulent 1-inch-high foliage, then open to reveal half-inch-long, yellow daisylike flowers. Blooms appear from mid-spring into fall.
This plant has leathery, evergreen dark green foliage with slightly indented margins. It reaches about 8 to 10 inches tall and bears tiny white male flowers. It spreads by rhizomes, eventually forming a mat at least 2 inches thick. Cultivars offer more compact form with smaller, finely toothed leaves ('Green Carpet') or glossy dark green leaves ('Green Sheen').
This native of Australia has blue-green perfoliate leaves (similar to some eucalyptus) and blue-lilac flowers on somewhat floppy stems. Digger's speedwell likes a hot location and will ramble over walls or grow through shrubs beautifully.
This exemplary species has felted, gray, crinkled leaves. Over a long period, it exhibits sprays of butterfly-shaped, rich wine-red flowers, which contrast dramatically with the foliage. Its small stature makes it a perfect candidate for a container or a walkway edge. It has been used medicinally for the treatment of various infections, including bronchitis. It is a native of Africa.
The velvety leaves of this choice species are pale green with long, silky hairs. The angora-like feel of the foliage is matched by its heavenly aroma of fresh mint. It bears clusters of dainty white blossoms in spring, but remains an exceptional foliage plant throughout the year.
This species produces 2- to 5-foot-tall mounds of narrow green foliage and bottle brush-like silvery-pink to purple flowers, both of which mature to shades of brown. It is the parent of numerous cultivars with notable flowers that range from purple to gray/black. It and some of its cultivars self-sow plentifully in warm climates. It is marginally hardy in Zone 5.
This is a very fragrant native woodland phlox with powder-blue flowers in spring. Reaching only 1 foot tall, it can spread to almost 2 feet and makes an attractive groundcover under shrubs or planted with other spring-blooming wildflowers. Leaves are semi-evergreen and hairy; stems root along their length. The blue flowers are salverform with petal lobes. This plant attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
This New Zealand flax has dark reddish brown leaves that form a neat clump less than 2 feet tall and about as wide. It makes a great container plant.
This spruce has blue foliage and drooping branches. It grows 3 or 4 inches a year, eventually spreading to about 8 feet wide and 4 feet tall, with silvery needles like its parent species.
This is a dwarf conifer with a rounded form. Juvenile needles grow like miniature puffballs on the tips of stubby, round branches and age to a silvery blue on one side and green on the other.
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.
This compact, rounded shrub produces reddish-purple buds that first open as soft-pink then mature to white. It grows to about 5 feet high and wide, making it a superb specimen for a container or small garden.
This pine's needles are marked with bands of yellow and green. The buttery yellow variegation on the 3- to 5-inch needles is present year-round, but intensifies as summer turns to fall and persists into winter. The scaly, fissured bark is lovely, ranging in color from gray to rich rusty orange. This is a graceful tree when mature, with an irregular branching habit and tilted trunk.
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
Building Better Borders
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
PLANTING PLAN: A deer-resistant bed that shines in fall and winter
by Nancy Matthews
Q&A Economical edging for beds
by Kate Feely
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