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Plectranthus cultivars are popular foliage plants, but some gardeners grow them for their blooms, and one of the best bloomers is 'Mona Lavender'. This cultivar has abundant lavender-purple flowers that complement the dark green leaves (with purple undersides and stems). These plants thrive in light to deep shade. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
Prized largely for its foliage, this spreading evergreen perennial is grown as an annual or under glass.
Grown mainly for its velvety gray succulent leaves, this Australian native shrub can reach 3 feet high and wide.
As the name implies, this plectranthus has green leaves with lime green edges. Some of the leaves are entirely lime green. It looks great mingling around the feet of perennials, shrubs, and annuals.
Soft, fuzzy, purple-tinged leaves make this Plectranthus a good companion plant in containers.
Dwarf white-stripe has 5-inch-long, upward-pointing green leaves strongly variegated with white. It grows up to 3 feet tall in either sun or shade, forming a striking contrast to less flamboyant neighbors.
This bamboo has showy variegated leaves of green and gold in an irregular pattern of stripes. It is a running bamboo, making it good for naturalizing and filling in or for hedging, but it may need to be controlled by underground barriers. It grows to about 5 feet high.
This evergreen shrub, native to South Africa, has long, skinny stems and phlox-like pale blue flowers. It can be used as a shrub, climber, pot plant, or groundcover.
As the cultivar name suggests, the leaves of ‘Kaleidoscope’ have distinctive markings, which can range in color from silver to light green to nearly black. Maroon flowers bloom in early summer. This plant is mostly evergreen. The plant's growth habit is umbrella-like. -Sylvia Matlock, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
Mayapple is a rhizomatous, native woodland perennial with leaves in the shape of an umbrella. They may form large colonies. In spring, white or pale pink waxy flowers are mostly hidden under the leaves. The greenish "mayapple" follows and is often eaten by wildlife. When fully ripe, the fruits may be used to make preserves or jellies, but they are toxic when unripe. Leaves and roots are poisonous. Plants often go dormant in the summer. Grow in a woodland garden.
This North American native bears deep blue or occasionally white, bell-shaped blossoms in spring and possibly late summer if deadheaded. It grows from 1 to 3 feet tall. Use Jacob's ladder in a lightly shaded border, rock garden, woodland, or cottage garden.
This dramatic cultivar has bright green leaves that are richly edged with cream. It bears lavender-blue blossoms in spring, and grows from 1.5 to 2 feet tall.
This North American native bears light blue bell-shaped blossoms in spring to early summer. It has a lax, sprawling habit to 1.5 feet tall. The leaflets are arranged like the rungs of a ladder, hence the common name.
This variegated cultivar offers white-edged leaves with pink tints on a compact plant to 1.5 feet tall. It bears light lavender-blue bell-shaped blossoms in spring.
From late spring into summer, this species bears tubular greenish-white flowers that dangle underneath the arching stems. The foliage is smooth; in autumn it turns to clear yellow, contrasting with the blue-black berries this plant produces. Its height varies wildly from 1.5 to 6 feet tall.
Polygonatum humile is an upright, rhizomatous perennial native to eastern Europe and western Asia. Ovate leaves are arranged alternately on the stems. Pendent, tubular white flowers hang like little bells from the leaf axils, followed by round bluish-black fruit. Grow in a shady border, rock garden, or woodland.
From late spring to early summer, this species bears pendent, green-tipped white flowers along arching stems. These mature into spherical black fruit in autumn, when the foliage turns yellow.
Gracefully arching 2 to 3-foot tall burgundy stems support narrow leaves streaked in pure white. From late spring to early summer, this species bears white flowers that mature into spherical black fruit in autumn, when the foliage turns a golden yellow. Variegated Solomon's seal is a fine choice for a shady bed. -Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #27
The Christmas fern is a particularly accommodating garden plant. It is adapted to a wide range of conditions, from very dry to moist, and is hardy to Zone 3. The plant’s 1- to 2-foot fronds are dependably evergreen—hence the common name—but they lie flat on the ground through the winter. Few hardy ferns have more beautiful deep, glossy green foliage.
This evergreen terrestial fern has a somewhat formal look due to its satiny olive-green fronds and neat, arching habit.
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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