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A. ficoidea ‘Red Threads’ is a slender-leaved perennial selection that doesn't wander, forming a textured carpet in shades of deep burgundy. A single plant makes a mound about 8 inches tall and 14 inches wide. It blooms on and off all year, but you may never notice. The small, pale flower buttons are held in the leaf axils, where they are nearly indistinguishable from the foliage unless you're paying close attention. Use 'Red Threads' at the base of taller plants in the border to provide vibrant color echoes or contrasts. Grow as a warm-season annual in cooler climates, mass the plants in beds, or use in a formal knot garden as the Victorians did.
This plant produces a great low-growing mat of flowers. The cheerful starlike blossoms come in pink, blue, and white, and the attractive finely cut leaves disappear soon after flowering.
This wild ginger is an evergreen groundcover with heart-shaped, shiny leaves that are often marbled. Its interesting brown-purple flowers hide beneath the foliage.
The broad silvery leaves of ‘Ursula’s Red’ have a showy burgundy band at the center of the leaves in spring. This plant can double in size in a single growing season, as it spreads from rhizomes. Though deer do like it, it may simply grow more fronds and not show any lasting damage. --Michael Ruggiero, Regional Picks: Mid-Atlantic, Fine Gardening issue #127
English daisy bears stems topped with a single white, daisy-like flower. The flowers are tinged maroon and yellow; but cultivars are available with single, semi-double, or double button flowers in shades of white, pink, salmon, and ruby. The plant's smooth, spoon-shaped leaves form neat rosettes. This carpeting perennial is often grown as a biennial. Its many cultivars are used for bedding out or container displays.
"Thorny but irresistible" best describes this low-maintenance, elfin barberry. Tiny leaves are smothered in coral-colored buds opening to bright yellow-orange spring flowers. These, in turn, produce silver-frosted, blue-black berries in fall. 'Corallina Compacta' is evergreen, tolerates most soil types, and is pest-free and drought tolerant once established.
Blue grama is a perennial grass from the Americas bearing unusually bent and flattened inflorescences. Being native to open grasslands, they are drought tolerant and at home in meadows. They provide the garden with shades of tan that persist throughout winter.
'Hachita' has narrow, blue-green leaves that form dense mounds. In summer, elongated seedheads add visual interest. This tough, drought-tolerant grass thrives in sand or clay soil with full-sun exposure. It needs a setting with good drainage, as it won't thrive in wet conditions. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
This brunnera cultivar has a silvery, heart-shaped leaves that are mostly everygreen. Delicate blue flowers emerge in spring. Drought tolerant once established, ‘Looking Glass’ brunnera requires little watering and is fairly resistant to pests. This cultivar grows to a little more than a foot tall and almost as wide. Use it in a woodland or shade garden, in a container, or at waterside. -Sylvia Matlock, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
Snow-in-summer is great for rock gardens and dry areas, and also works well as a container plant. Plant it on a stone wall for a cascading effect. Snow-in-summer needs room to perform. A single plant can carpet an area as wide as a yard across. After the flowers fade, the silver/grey foliage shines on in contrast to more predictable shades of green.
This lovely herbaceous species is versatile and undemanding. It is the star of the late-summer garden with its spiky bright red flower buds and vivid blue flowers, displaying long-lasting mahogany red foliage in fall. Spreading slowly via underground runners, this long-lived plant makes a solid mat with erect, slender red stems and bright green leaves.
This plant's tapering, finely dissected leaves make it look like a fern relative. The bronzy tints of the emerging foliage add to this plant's beauty. It bears buttery yellow blossoms from spring to summer.
This variety has fragrant, deep blue, cornucopia-shaped flowers carried tightly on red stems above 6-inch tall, blue-green foliage. It is considered one of the best blue forms for color and performance.
This species has bluntly spurred golden yellow flowers from late spring to early fall. Its pale green, glaucous leaves form compact, ferny mounds.
From late spring and throughout the summer, creamy flowers cover a delicate mound of filigreed gray-green foliage.
This series produces compact plants 1 foot tall and about as wide with large blossoms in pure white and many shades of pink. These season-long performers make fine edging plants.
The intense scarlet red blooms and yellow centers of this bedding plant will stop you in your tracks. ‘Cosmic Red’ blooms all summer and looks great at the front of the border and in containers. As with other cosmos cultivars, grow this plant in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. The already hypnotic color will intensify as light levels increase.
Mesa Verde® is a moderately-spreading ground cover with small, bright salmon pink flowers that bloom from midspring till late fall. It is tolerant of a wide variety of soil conditions, from poor or sandy to well-drained.
A tuft of thin grassy foliage with gray and gold variegation distinguishes this cultivar. Early summer brings 3-foot-tall, airy plumes of tiny flowers that look beautiful when backlit by the sun. As fall approaches, the foliage turns golden with pink-coral tips. This grass even grows well in shadier sites. Plant in a border, woodland garden, or shaded rock garden.
Dianthus 'Bath's Pink' is a stunning, wide-spreading ground cover with grassy, blue-green foliage and pink flowers. Use it to edge a bed or grow it in your rock garden for a splash of cool color. To keep its blooms going, be sure to deadhead.
Flowering Paperwhites for Winter Windowsills
These easy-to-force bulbs have superior blossoms and scents
by Brent Heath
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
Alliums All Season Long
Deer resistant and dynamic, these bulbs provide color from the first showers of spring to the last leaves of fall
by Stephanie Cohen
A guide to growing, care, and propagation of rex begonias, plus some great cultivars
by Rita Randolph
Q&A Ground covers to avoid
by Nancy Ondra
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