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'Amber Ghost' offers unique color in the maples. In spring, it is first bright pink, changing to a melon, pink-orange color. In summer it is a warm soft amber with a distinct green vein. Fall brings bright red and orange. 'Amber Ghost' is a wide, upright tree, excellent for either container or landscape if you want a series of stunning colors to bring into the garden.
This Japanese maple has long-lobed, deeply divided leaves that are cherry red in the spring, a perfect contrast to the pea green bark. In summer the foliage changes slowly from red to green and back to red in fall. The habit is wide spreading with pendulous branches providing movement in the least of wind. Though slow to mature, it is an easy tree to grow and a striking beauty.
The foliage is bright strawberry red at first emergence, and slowly pink suffuses each leaf along the vein as the spring progresses. Graceful deeply divided leaves with serrated edges gently curve at the tips. In its mature form, this tree will most likely have wide spreading with cascading branches (Because this is a new cultivar and Japanese maples can be very slow growing, accurate information about this tree’s maturity can be difficult to come by) . This cultivar is a seedling from ‘Aka shigitatsu sawa’.
A better-behaved cousin to the less-than-polite trumpet vine, cross vine is a colorful solution for a fence or arbor with afternoon shade. Although this east Texas native is slow to establish, ‘Tangerine Beauty’ sports brighter, showier flowers than other cultivars and will reward your patience with loads of orange blooms in both spring and fall. Flowers bloom on old wood, so prune this vine immediately only after blooms fade. -Leslie Finical Halleck, Fine Gardening #147 (October 2012), page 74
Japanese camellias shine in winter, with their glossy, deep green leaves and brilliant symmetry. Red, pink, and white lowers appear in spring, and they range from solids to stripes and from single cups of petals to tight double blooms. -Nellie Neal, Regional Picks: Southeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
From late fall through winter, the leathery leaves of hellebores stay glossy, cheery, and green. Hybrids of H. orientalis and other species have a clump-forming habit and leathery leaves. They begin blooming in February or March in a range of shades, adding much needed color very early in the season. The blooms last for a very long time, especially if the weather stays cool. Hellebores are tolerant of summer heat and humidity. -Marty Hair, Regional Picks: Upper Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127
Hellebores begin blooming in mid-winter in a range of colors, adding much needed color very early in the season. They bloom when the temperature is below freezing, even amidst the snow. Protect from cold winter winds, especially when not insulated by snow, to avoid damaged foliage. Avoid ingestion of all plant parts and contact with the sap.
‘HGC Pink Frost’ is part of a new series of hellebores that, for the Midwest, bloom very early, some as early as January; this cultivar blooms a bit later, usually in March. The bud count is high, with buds coming out in February all along the plant stem. They start out a deep burgundy but open to soft pink, then age to earthy rose shades. Flowers rise above the foliage, so they are never hidden, and they face outward, creating maximum interest. -Irvin Etienne, Fine Gardening issue 147, page 72
With hefty, chartreuse-flared leaves, ‘Lakeside Shore Master’ hosta commands attention. Performing best in shade, it will tolerate some sun in our cool New England climate. Please don’t let the name fool you, however, into giving it a soggy spot; wet feet turn hostas into mush. This cultivar also sports thick leaves, which are fairly slug resistant. -Justin Nichols, Fine Gardening 147, page 70
This re-blooming mophead features inflorescences ranging 4-6 inches wide. Their color will be pink or blue depending on aluminum availability in soil. Compact habit with glossy dark green leaves.
‘Pink Chablis’ has pink flowers above silvery gray leaves edged with dark green. These trailing plants make fine ground covers or cascaders.
In early spring, fleshy stems unfurl and are topped by rounded burgundy leaves. By June, this plant looks splendid, with upturned leaves and their rich purple undersides. 'Britt Marie Crawford' may wilt in the hot noonday sun, but soft shade soon revives it. At the start of summer, right golden daisy-like flowers bloom, contrasting boldly with the foliage. -Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
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
“Soft caress,” indeed! You’ll barely recognize this shade dweller as an Oregon grape when it sends up its long slender foliage without a single thorn. Its spikes of fragrant, lemon yellow flowers bloom from fall through winter, and will add a jolt to any shady bed. But the large clusters of silver-blue berries that follow the blooms are what I look forward to most. For the best results, give this drought-tolerant perennial afternoon shade, well-draining soil, and plenty of water the first year. -Leslie Finical Halleck, Fine Gardening # 147 (October 2012), page 74
This spreading tree with a graceful habit bears glossy, dark green leaflets. Thick shoots grow quickly when young—and more slowly as the tree reaches maturity. In fall, foliage turns a handsome shade of yellow and the tree bears clusters of blue-black berries. Deeply corrugated, pale gray-brown bark is a striking feature; unfortunately, it doesn’t develop until the tree matures.
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
Like other creeping myrtles, 'Illumination' is a tough evergreen ground cover for shade that will grow in almost any soil. Its hallmark is its bright gold leaves that are edged with a border of irregular green. Periwinkle-blue flowers appear in spring. Use 'Illumination' as a shade ground cover or in hanging baskets. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
Anyone who gardens in the shade is familiar with heucherella. ‘Sweet Tea’ was bred using Heuchera villosa, a native of the eastern United States, as one of its parents, which has added enough resistance to heat, drought, and humidity to make it able to handle even the extreme climate of Texas. ‘Sweet Tea’ has large, stained, orange-bronze leaves with dark burgundy veins and short spikes of small white flowers that appear in early spring. Its brightly colored foliage, however, is the main reason to have this plant. Give it well-drained soil, and lift and divide it every couple of years. -Jimmy Turner, Perennials for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
Q&A Shade evergreens as screens
by Paul Cappiello
Experts Pick Their Favorite Plants
We asked 42 gardening experts from around the country to select their favorite plants. Now you can see the complete results of the survey.
10 Combinations for Shade
The secret is in using color to pump up the interest in low-light spots
by Inta Krombolz
How to Prune Conifers
These plants are unforgiving, so make the right cuts for the right reasons
by Bert Cregg
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