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This mat-forming species with narrow, dark green leaves is one of the easiest to grow. Blossoms with red eyes open in early summer and may rebloom if sheared back after flowering.
Especially fragrant and variable in color, modern border pinks form mats of grayish green leaves and fringed, saucer-shaped flowers.
This tropical shrub or small tree may be grown in a mixed or shrub border; in colder climates, it does well in a temperate greenhouse. Flowers in shades of sky-blue, lilac, purple, or white blossom gracefully along arching branches in summer; they are followed by spherical, yellow fruit.
Coneflowers have much to offer the garden, and now they have fragrance, too. 'Fragrant Angel' has large, sweetly scented flowers made up of two rows of white petals surrounding a greenish orange cone. The plants grow to 40 inches and attract butterflies. Grow them in a border, meadow, cottage garden, or cut flower garden.
Autumn olive is a vigorous, deciduous shrub with pale yellow-white bell-shaped flowers to a half-inch long borne in late spring and early summer. Its silvery fruit turns red in fall and attracts birds. Wavy-margined leaves are silvery when they emerge and mature to bright green above.
This species produces very tall spires of pale pink flowers with yellow stamens atop leafless stems that puncture vertical space with unmatched elegance.
California poppies grow to about 12 inches tall, and their pretty foliage is ferny, like carrot tops. They come in a variety of colors, from the standard golden orange, to yellow, cream, and red. Grow them in a border or rock garden.
This species boasts stems and undersides of leaves with maroon spotting, and white flowers tinged with maroon. The flowers form on 24-inch-long, thick stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tightly-clung florets, which are crowned by tufts of green bracts. As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples.
With its woody stems and oval-shaped leaves, this perennial looks a lot like a tree. Like other members of the euphorbia family, it has milky sap and tiny flowers. Most of the appeal comes from the leaf color. dark burgundy on older leaves, a brighter red on new foliage. The foliage generally dies back in winter. -Jeff Moore, Regional Picks: Southwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
Snowdrops are some of the earliest bulbs, and flowers in general, to bloom in spring. Galanthus nivalis is the most common species, and its cultivars are the most commonly grown snowdrops on the market. They are reliably hardy and perennial. They grow to 4 inches tall and wide and flower in mid- to late winter, long before most other plants. They are the first sign of spring around the corner. Flowers are nodding and white.
A native of South Africa, summer hyacinth sends up spikes of lovely white flowers in late summer amidst dark green, strap-like foliage, when many other perennials are done blooming. The tall spikes are fragrant and especially dramatic planted with darker foliage or flowers.
This stunning shrub blooms all year in some climates. A fast grower, its large, moonlight-colored flowers and finely divided, gray foliage are a must for any southern-temperate garden. Frost and drought tolerant once established, it attracts bees and hummingbirds and makes an excellent screening shrub.
These branching plants with thick stems and glossy mid-green leaves grow 5 to 6 feet tall. Slightly nodding flowerheads 2.5 inches or more across appear in summer. Bright yellow ray florets are sometimes flushed with red or purple-red disk florets.
Heucheras make excellent foliage plants for sun to part shade gardens. Most flowers are not as impressive as the foliage, but they do add a second level of interest. 'Silver Scrolls' heuchera's leaves are burgundy overlaid with silver and withstand even hot summers, unlike many other silver plants. It grows up to 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide.
This hybrid heuchera has lobed, dark-green leaves and big panicles of large white flowers in late spring and early summer. It grows up to 30 inches tall and 18 inches wide. The flowers are suitable for cutting and the foliage is somewhat evergreen.
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.
This hardy, deciduous, vase-shaped, woody shrub blooms for several weeks beginning in midsummer. Cultivars include ‘Aphrodite’ (deep rose-pink flowers with a dark red eye), ‘Diana’ (large white flowers with wavy-margined petals), ‘Helene’ (white flowers with bases flushed reddish purple), and ‘Minerva' (low-branched with lavender flowers tinged with pink and dark red centers).
A seldom-seen annual or short-lived perennial, this easy-to-grow plant performs as the perfect filler in beds and containers. It forms a well-branched compact mound of deeply lobed, dark green leaves, which provide an interesting textural backdrop to its charming, hibiscus-type flowers. The flowers are truly stunning with their cream petals, purple-hued undersides, and deep burgundy centers. While each flower lasts only a single day, the plant blooms profusely all season and produces inflated seedpods. The flowers will not normally open on a cloudy day, but this is a small price to pay for such a gem of a plant.
This evergreen subshrub slowly spreads to form a tidy cushion of shiny dark green leaves. In late spring and early summer, numerous flattened clusters of 4-petaled snow-white flowers nearly cover the foliage. Iberis sempervirens makes an effective edging for a sunny border.
Morning glory is a fast-growing, twining annual with heart-shaped light to mid-green leaves and vibrantly colored, funnel-shaped flowers to 3 inches across. Cultivars include white-colored ‘Pearly Gates’; ‘Heavenly Blue’; crimson-colored, white-throated ‘Crimson Rambler’; and ‘Flying Saucers’, a batik-looking blend of white and blue accented by a golden throat.
Colorful Selections For Shade
With these striking plants, you'll never need to settle for a sea of green again
by Gene E. Bush
Forget the wallflower varieties - these 10 stars take center stage
by John O'Brien
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
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