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This hardy annual has vibrant, ornamental red, yellow, and green foliage that lends a tropical effect to the garden. Small flowers, borne from summer to early autumn, are inconspicuous in comparison to the effect of the foliage. Cultivars feature yellow and maroon-shaded leaves, but the species still offers the showiest foliage.
This is a dwarf astilbe with attractive red-green leaves and reddish pink flowers in broad, dense conical groups. Its blooms appear mostly in summer.
With its deep purple-black leaves and brilliant summer blooms, 'Bishop of Llandaff' is a fine addition to the sunny bed or border. The 4- to 6-inch-round red-petaled flowers have deep purple and yellow centers, which are set off nicely by the plant's dark foliage. Use this long-stemmed cultivar in cut-flower arrangements. -Gerald Gibbens, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue#120
This purple to almost black heuchera adds drama to the shade. The plant grows to 16 inches tall and wide with coralcolored blooms in spring. Grow it in garden beds or containers.
This compact shrub was bred by the noted horticulturist, Dr. Michael Dirr. It was selected not only for its small stature but also for its excellent disease resistance and standout flower color.
Panicum Ruby Ribbons’ soft blue-green foliage emerges in the spring on upright, clumping plants. The foliage takes on a wine-red color in early summer, which intensifies as the season progresses. Flower heads appear in late summer, followed by ornamental seed heads, which, if left uncut, provide long-lasting winter interest.
A refreshing new look to an old time favorite ornamental grass! Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ is the first variegated purple fountain grass. The midvein is the typical burgundy color and is flanked by hot pink margins. Produces beautiful red-burgundy foxtail flowers. Great accent plant and excellent in containers. -Santa Rosa Gardens
This tropical annual produces mounds of narrow burgundy-red foliage and purple plumes to 1 foot long. It is invaluable for containers and stunning, annual foliage color in a border. It rarely sets seed.
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.
'Carmencita' castor bean is a shrub, usually grown as an annual, that grows to 6 to 10 feet and is well branched, with dark bronze-red foliage and bright red female flowers. Grow in a cool greenhouse or use as a specimen foliage plant in the summer outdoors.
Red-veined dock is a taprooted perennial with a rosette of leaves distinctively marked with deep red or purple veins. It is grown mostly as a foliage plant or ornamental vegetable, but it also produces erect stems of tiny, star-shaped green flowers that turn reddish brown. These are followed by dark brown fruit. Native to Europe, northern Africa, and southwest Asia.
'Postman's Pride' sedum is a wonderful dark-foliaged plant for sunny, dry locations. It has a semi-upright habit and produces masses of red to purple flowers from late summer through fall. The flowers attract honeybees and butterflies. Like other sedums, 'Postman's Pride' is useful in rock and xeriscape gardens because, once established, it thrives without irrigation except during severe droughts. Curious about the cultivar name? This plant was discovered by a Belgian postal carrier in his garden. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
Tulipa 'Esperanto' has white-bordered leaves, but it is unique with its long-lasting deep rose red and dark green streaked flowers, which stand 10 to 12 inches tall.
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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