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Don't let its delicate appearance fool you: Western bleeding heart is hardy and tenacious. This elegant, herbaceous perennial spreads slowly from rhizomes to form drifts of soft blue-green, ferny foliage in shady woodland areas. Above the leaves in late spring, pink heart-shaped flowers hang gracefully from long, arched stems, attracting scores of hummingbirds but not the local deer. It is surprisingly drought tolerant during the summer months.
Bright yellow heart-shaped flowers bloom in April or May; bloom continues off and on throughout the season. This climbing perennial can reach 3 feet high and wide. The species is native to the Himalayas.
A garden favorite for many years, bleeding heart has soft green foliage and 1-inch-long rose pink and white heart-shaped flowers for several weeks in spring. Plants can form clumps 3 feet across and almost as tall. Foliage generally goes dormant in summer, so be sure to choose companion plants carefully so there isn't an empty space left in the garden. Beautiful in a border or woodland garden.
Golden yellow foliage emerges from the ground in early spring and is soon accompanied by rosy-pink broken hearts that open in succession for nearly a month as the stems elongate.
Southern bush honeysuckle has an attractive thicket-forming habit. Glossy green leaves with tapered tips emerge tinged with bronze and mature to mid-green on reddish stems. Sulfur-yellow flowers in terminal clusters to 3 inches across appear in summer.
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 foxglove has long-lasting flowers in seductive shades of burnt umber. Its glossy, linear leaves are evergreen in mild climates, but turn brown in colder climates.
This is a biennial or short-lived perennial, which may last longer and rebloom if deadheaded. It sports dramatic blossoms in contrasting colors in spires reaching six feet high in rich soil, but more likely to 3 or 4 feet.
Wide and distinct umbrella-like leaves form beautiful clumps in a woodland setting. The small white flowers, which persist throughout the season, transform into striking umbels of blue-black berries on cerise stalks.
This cultivar adds attractive white-striped foliage to shady areas, as well as pendent, white, bell-shaped flowers in late spring and early summer, and black berries in fall. The species is native to Japan. Variegated fairy bells grows to about 24 inches tall and wide.
Yellow whitlow grass is a small, semi-evergreen perennial perfect for growing in a trough, rock wall, or xeric bed. It grows to only 4 inches high and twice as wide. This delightful, drought-tolerant miniature has spiny rosettes of lustrous green leaves through the winter and cheerful yellow flowers in early spring.
This dramatic fern diplays 4-foot-tall arching fronds that form impressive clumps with age. It is a hybrid of two native ferns and makes a wonderful groundcover.
This fern is a tall plant with foliage that looks good all summer long. Upright deep-green fronds are semi-evergreen but topple over in fall. May reach 3 feet.
This is a handsome and lush, semi-evergreen vase-shaped fern with thickly textured leaves that is suitable for specimen treatment. It reaches 3.5 feet tall. Grow in a woodland or moist shade garden.
In spring, autumn fern’s fronds unfurl a copper red, then turn to bronze, and finally become a shiny dark green. The fronds are upright and lend a lacy texture to the woodland garden. This fern is usually deciduous. -Lou Anella, Regional Picks: Southern Plains, Fine Gardening issue #127
Tokyo wood fern's ladderlike, upright fronds provide a strong vertical accent to its surroundings. The vase-shaped clumps grow to 18 to 36 inches tall. Grow in a woodland or shade garden.
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.
'Cherry Cola' , a relatively new cultivar, features deep, dark burgundy foliage and small but sharp teeth (handle with care!). In summer, orange blossoms appear, and hummingbirds love them. Like other Dyckias, this plant tolerates extreme heat and is perfect for hot, dry locations. -Jeff Moore, Regional Picks: Southwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
This fast-growing, evergreen climber has sharply 4-angled stems and red-orange tubular flowers tipped with yellow that are borne in clusters 4 to 6 inches long. Chilean glory flower blooms from late spring to autumn. Light green leaves are small, ovate, and boldly veined.
This cross of E. purpurea 'Alba' and E. paradoxa bears narrow coppery-orange ray petals and prominent deep brown central cones. The fragrant blooms open from early to late summer with sporadic later bloom. It has semi-glossy leaves and grows 2 to 3 feet tall.
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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