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Flat-topped corymbs of small, daisy-like flowers in colors of salmon-peach to yellow-orange are borne simultaneously on one plant up to 2 feet tall and wide. Flowers are complemented by silvery-green, finely-textured foliage.
This is the most drought-tolerant bergenia I’ve found and the only one that does well in Texas heat. The large, hairy, critter-resistant leaves do not resemble other members of this genus; they look more like hairy plates or giant African violet leaves—hence, it’s common name. Mature plants will send up 10-inch-long stems of white to pale pink flowers from spring to early summer, but the real reason to grow this plant is its remarkable foliage.In cooler regions, hairy bergenia grows not only in the shade but also in full sun. It isn’t particular about soil type or pH. Divide plants every three to five years to keep them vigorous. -Jimmy Turner, Perennials for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133
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
A rare and graceful beauty, this plant is not a true foxglove, but its flowers are similarly shaped and hang in clusters. They come in shades of white and pink with pale violet stripes highlighting the inner throats. This plant’s soft coloring brings the delicacy typical of spring-blooming plants into the summer garden. The gray-green foliage has a distinctly nutty fragrance and is deer resistant. As a large-scale plant, South African foxglove holds its own when planted among shrubs and is best complemented by plants with deep purple foliage. It also makes a good cutting flower.
Lily of the valley's bell-shaped, sweetly scented flowers bloom in early spring. It likes partial to full shade and is perfect for a woodland garden. It may not be the best choice for your beds and borders because it tends to spread, but it is a perfect ground cover if you have a large shady spot under some trees.
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.
Originating in mountainous woodland and stony habitats from Europe to western Asia, yellow foxglove is tolerant of dry shade but flourishes with moisture. Arising in midsummer from neat clumps of fine-toothed foliage, a mass of soft yellow open bells, speckled brown inside, blooms along one side of a 3-foot-tall stem. Usually described as a perennial, it is more accurate to call it a biennial or short-lived perennial. If the flowering stalk is cut down after blooms have faded, it may rebloom in the fall. When a few flower stalks are left, the plant self-seeds.
This native meadow perennial has daisy-like blossoms in early summer. It bears copper-orange central cones surrounded by short, arching, ray petals in pink or purple-pink, and occasionally white.
This evergreen shrub can light up the dark corners of a garden. It grows quickly, and its branches are arched and somewhat spiny. Bright yellow, 3- to 4-inch-long leaves splashed are outlined in green. The twigs are a metallic copper color, and the undersides of the leaves are specled with a copper color, too. Tiny white flowers appear under the leaves in fall. They are hard to see, but very fragrant. Small orange fruit appear in spring. -Michael Lee, Fine Gardening issue #119
Its blaze of yellow flowers is surely one of the first harbingers of spring. Forsythia are widely recognized for their utility in a shrub border, a bank, or for hedging, and their light to deep yellow, four-petaled flowers.
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
Heuchera make excellent foliage plants for sun to part shade gardens. With its burgundy stems and pale pink flowers, 'Pink Lipstick' provides great color to a border.
This hardy lavender stands out for its unusually large, dark blue-purple flowers, silvery green foliage, and heavy fragrance. It is often used in perfumes. Growing to 30 inches tall and nearly as wide, 'Grosso' has very long flower spikes and blooms from midsummer into autumn. It is especially attractive as an edging.
English lavender has silvery gray, aromatic foliage topped in summer with lavender-blue to dark purple flowers on long stems.
This early-blooming compact shrub bears intriguing pine-cone-shaped flowers that have dark-purple bracts, or “rabbit ears.” Bloom appears from late spring to summer. The foliage is gray-green.
This hardy herbaceous perennial has grass-like, strappy leaves and 3- to 5-foot-tall spikes of purple-pink flowers in late summer and early fall. Native to the eastern and southern United States, this tough perennial prefers reliably moist soil but will tolerate drought. It provides a bold, vertical element to mixed borders and attracts bees and butterflies. It has been observed to be resistant to deer browsing and self-sows freely. The flowers are suitable for cutting.
This cultivar of a U.S. prairie plant offers the garden spikes of purple, fuzzy-looking flowers that open from the top down on plants up to 2 feet tall and 18 inches wide. The show starts in late summer and attracts butterflies and bees. Grow it in a moist meadow or border. The flowers are also beautiful in a vase.
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
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
10 Combinations for Shade
The secret is in using color to pump up the interest in low-light spots
by Inta Krombolz
Bringing Sun and Shade Together
Show off what these extremes have to offer, then unite them with some common ground
by Dan Johnson
Find spots in your garden for plants you thought you couldn’t grow
by Dan Johnson
Stylish Shady Containers
Low light doesn't have to cramp your creativity or limit your plant choices
by Karen Chapman
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