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This is a rounded, semi-evergreen shrub to 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide with glossy, dark green leaves. From midsummer to autumn, it produces fragrant, funnel-shaped white flowers that are tinged with pink.
This tall, upright perennial has single flowers of various colors that grow along a spike. It blooms in early summer and midsummer.
Tatarian aster is an impressive, stately perennial with a flowering height of 3 to 6 feet. It can look you in the eye yet require no staking. More important, this aster flowers longer than any other garden aster, beginning in late September and early October and continuing into November. The 1-inch-wide, light lavender flowers are a magnet for local and migrating monarch butterflies. This plant tolerates many soil types, can form large colonies in a few years, and is easily divided.
Butterfly bushes are carefree deciduous shrubs that are reliably fragrant and easy to grow. Butterflies swarm to their blooms all summer long. 'Black Knight' has deep purple-blue, almost black, flowers in elongated clusters on arching branches to 10 feet tall if not cut back, and half that size if cut back. The blooms come from early summer to first frost. The foliage is willow-like and grayish green.
A deciduous climber native to the southeastern United States, Clematis crispa bears lavender-blue, bell-shaped flowers with curly edges in summer. Its blooms are not profuse, but their elegant shape makes this plant a good choice for trellises, growing through shrubs, or planting in damp areas. The flowers are slightly fragrant and are followed by attractive seedheads. It also makes an unusual cut flower.
This vigorous climber can easily cover a support of 8 to 10 feet tall once established. Finely textured, dense light-green foliage makes an excellent foil for dainty, pink and carmine teardrop-shaped flowers 2 inches across. Blooms appear in early August and continue well into autumn.
This species produces very tall spires of pale pink flowers with yellow stamens atop leafless stems that puncture vertical space with unmatched elegance.
There are few better winter displays than the blossoms of 'Pallida' witch hazel. Bright green leaves line its flaring branches in spring and summer. After a display of yellow fall color, the plant shows its distinctive branch structure. Around the end of December, clusters of buds begin to open into spidery, pale yellow flowers. These cover the branches until early March, giving off a rich, fruity perfume. This small tree or large shrub grows up to 12 feet tall and wide.
This bold, strong-growing, woody-based perennial hibiscus has erect stems reaching up to 8 feet tall with 8-inch-wide, funnel-shaped flowers with spreading petals in shades of pink, white, or crimson.
Deciduous, suckering shrub bearing a profusion of bell-shaped flowers, pale to deep pink with a yellow throat, in late spring and early summer. Dark-green foliage adds appeal when not in bloom.
This North American coastal native exhibits quiet beauty and an easy-going habit. It grows to 10 feet tall, and spreads slowly to form colonies with glossy, semi-evergreen aromatic leaves. It looks equally at home as a hedge, in an herb garden, or in a natural meadow.
In late summer, this large, clump-forming species bears huge plumes of delicate pink flower clusters, which eventually fade to silver.
This short-lived, tender perennial shrub native to the Canary Islands off the African coast sends up 6-foot white-furred stems cloaked with long, felted, arrow-shaped leaves and topped, summer to frost, with plumes of purplish violet flowers clasped by red-tipped calyxes. It grows up to 4 feet wide.
This tall, sturdy prairie plant makes an imposing statement in the garden with its large, deeply cut leaves and yellow sunflower-like flowers that face east and bloom in late summer and early fall. The leaves of the compass plant can grow up to 18 inches long and are deeply incised with a shape that looks like something from a painting by Matisse. They align themselves on a north-south axis to conserve moisture by avoiding the midday sun. This plant requires a few years to enlarge and flower, but once its deep roots are anchored, it will live for many years.
This early flowering hybrid produces fragrant, single white flowers. It forms a shrub 8 feet high by 10 feet wide, and exhibits autumn coloring. This hybrid and its offspring show some disease resistance.
This hauntingly beautiful specimen has blue-green foliage along matte, purple-green, willowy stems. At 5 or more feet in height, it has a dramatic yet delicate garden presence. Its sprays of nodding lilac flowers have pale yellow stamens. Plant at the back of a border; it may require staking.
Doublefile viburnum is a horizontally branched, deciduous shrub native to China and Japan. Along its branches in mid-spring bloom double rows of flattened clusters of sterile florets, resembling lace-cap hydrangea flowers. Oval red fruit follows and ripens to black, often attracting birds.
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Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
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Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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