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Russell hybrid lupines are widely available and available in myriad colors. They produce spikes of pea-like flowers in early and midsummer on 30-36-inch plants.
This spreading evergreen perennial has clumps of grass-like deep green basal leaves. Tiny, brilliant white flowers borne in tight clusters appear in early summer and midsummer.
Gray-green, spear-shaped leaves form a low, tidy, circular mound about 1 foot in diameter. This plant puts on a dazzling show of five-petaled magenta flowers on straight stalks about 2 feet high in mid-spring.
Red spider lily’s brilliant red flowers remind me of an azalea’s ball truss. Blooms fade quickly in hot weather, but a higher degree of shade helps them last a while longer. Depending on where it grows in the Southeast, red spider lily blooms from early September to mid-October. After the bloom stalks fade away, foot-long, strap-shaped leaves emerge and last through winter. Red spider lily is an heirloom bulb that is easily passed from hand to hand. Replant offsets as the leaves die in spring. -Parker Andes, Fine Gardening #147 (October 2012), page 71
Silver-blue, rushlike foliage is graced by one of the most distinctive flowers of all grasses: the inflorescence looks like little origami birds.
In early spring, this plant produces 16-inch-long, pointed white spathes that mask spikes of tiny green flowers, with no offensive odor. Large, glossy, leathery, oblong leaves 20 to 39 inches long grow from the base of the spathes.
Hairy loosestrife has dark burgundy- to chocolate-colored foliage that spreads to form large clumps but is generally not invasive. In midsummer, clusters of small yellow star-shaped flowers contrast with the leaves. It grows to 4 feet high and 2 feet wide and is good in a moist border, at a pond margin, or in a wild garden.
This vigorous grower has attractive, smooth, narrowly oval pointed leaves are mid-green above, pale green beneath. Tiny saucer-shaped white blossoms are produced in dense, tapered terminal spikes, 4 to 8 inches long, that curve gracefully over and down, from July to September. Leaves turn to rich gold in autumn.
A mass of small purple leaves and abundant golden yellow, bell-shaped flowers distinguish this groundcover. It is useful on slopes as well as in containers.
This herbaceous perennial forms clumps of gray-green leaves from which arise slender racemes of small white flowers with mauve-colored veins, making for an almost gray appearance. It makes an interesting cut flower, and the plant is not invasive like other loosestrifes.
The showy purple spikes of purple loosestrife are attractive in the garden and along roadsides, but the plant's rampant spread has greatly reduced the ecological value of marshes by displacing native wetland vegetation such as cattails (Typha spp.) that wildlife uses as food or shelter. One mature plant can produce over 2 million seeds a year that are easily transported by the wind or water into wetlands. The seeds easily germinate, and no natural predator holds this plant in check. Even cultivars reported to be sterile can produce highly fertile seed if grown with other cultivars or wild loosestrife.
This hardy cross between M. liliiflora and M. stellata is an open, deciduous shrub up to 20 feet tall and wide. It blooms in early spring and sporadically into fall, with goblet-shaped, deep pinkish-red flowers that are 7 to 9 inches long.
This cross of M. acuminata and M. denudata usually forms a small tree with an upright central leader or sometimes a multi-stemmed shrub. It has yellow cup to star-shaped flowers (3 to 4 inches across) that are fragrant and appear before the leaves in early to mid-spring.
Few species can match the elegant drama of this specimen in full bloom. It has luminous, pale yellow, cup-shaped flowers to 6 inches across that seem to glow on the bare branches in late spring.
This rounded, small tree grows to 25 feet tall. It is a cross of M. kobus and M. stellata 'Rosea'. It has star-shaped flowers with 12 narrow petals, white on the inside and purplish-pink on the outside; the transition of color from bud to bloom is a beautiful study in color. The blossoms are fragrant and appear before the leaves in early to mid-spring.
This vigorous, erect tree grows from 20 to 30 feet tall and has star-shaped flowers with 15 broad white petals blushed with pink. The blossoms are fragrant and appear before the leaves in early to mid-spring.
This stunning hybrid has deep burgundy tulip-shaped flowers that appear in early spring before its 4- to 6-inch-long leaves unfurl. It makes an excellent small specimen tree, growing to 20 feet tall. It can be topped to form a hedge, and works well in large containers.
This spreading, deciduous shrub grows 15 to 25 feet tall and blooms in late spring to late summer, with white fragrant blossoms. Site where the slightly nodding flowers with rich rose-red stamens can be seen from below.
Few shrubs offer flowers as late as this one, which starts blooming in late October or early November. The upright, 10- to 12-inch-wide flower clusters last until January or February, then give way to long strings of dark purple fruit that the birds devour. The evergreen foliage is so architectural, 'Charity' would be a spectacular shrub even if it didn't bloom. Some years, the leaves turn red, but instead of relying on it, consider it a pleasant surprise when it happens.
Leatherleaf mahonia is a thick shrub with a formal feel. Its stiff, green-blue foliage looks something like holly foliage, and in spring, airy clusters of tiny, golden yellow flowers appear. These are followed in fall by inky blue berries. Consider this plant for a a mixed-shrub foundation planting, or use it as a hedge plant. -Nellie Neal, Regional Picks: Southeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
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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