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“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 clump-forming perennial has light blue to purplish blue pendulous flowers that open from pink buds atop 16- to 24-inch stems in mid- to late spring. Elliptic to ovate, hairless, bluish green leaves yellow and die back once the flowers fade after about 10 days.
This bushy perennial has oval, deep green leaves on branched stems. In summer, blooms appear: fragrant red, pink, magenta, yellow or white flowers with a delicate, faded-vanilla aroma. Flowers open in late afternoon and die by morning.
Native to the southwestern U.S., California, and Mexico, wild four o'clocks cover themselves with hundreds of purple-pink, petunia-like blooms that open in unison in the afternoon or in the morning on cloudy days. Their musky fragrance attracts their primary pollinator, the hawkmoth. Grow in a border. xeric garden, or rock garden.
Variegated Japanese silver grass is a boon in any garden where fine texture, a gentle color scheme, and a bit of swaying in the wind are welcome. This grass can be used as a focal point, an anchor plant, or even as a privacy screen.
'Skyracer' grows to about 3 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet wide, and in late summer to early fall, sends up delicate panicles to a height of 6 or 7 feet. This finely-textured ornamental grass is great for areas where you need height but don't have space for a wider, heavier plant. It works well in a sunny border but make sure you site it so you can see it closeup. Expect outstanding yellow color in fall.
This cultivar is a clump-forming perennial with toothed gray-green leaves and larger flowers than the hybrid. It flowers profusely and long, especially if sheared. The blue-purple flowers are small but abundant, and the foliage is aromatic.
'Little Red' is a dwarf selection of oleander, which is a large evergreen shrub. Its flowers are deep red and bloom all summer long. This plant is tough and drought-tolerant.
Love-in-a-mist-bears delicate flowers 1.5 inches across in various shades of blue and white, surrounded by finely divided foliage. Blooms appear mainly in May and June, and sporadically throughout the summer, followed by attractive 1-inch-wide green seedpods that change to cream and burgundy over time.
This yucca-like Mexican plant has bold bluish leaves to 3 feet long that have tiny serrations on the edges. It makes a stunning accent in the garden or in a container. It is hardy to 10°F and extremely drought tolerant. Thousands of tiny white flowers bloom on a 4-foot stalk on mature clumps.
This plant is a creeping perennial that reaches 24 inches tall. Dark green leaves have a rich purple tint, and its purplish pink flower clusters appear from late spring through autumn. ‘Herrenhausen’ (Zones 5–8) displays masses of showy pink flowers with maroon bracts on purplish stems. ‘Hopleys’ (Zones 7–10) is taller (up to 36 inches) with large, long-blooming, deep pink flowers, and is a vigorous grower, more tolerant of heat than ‘Herrenhausen’.
Golden oregano is a robust creeper with tiny, rounded leaves 1/2 to 1 inch wide. Small, pink or lavender to purple flowers stand out above the foliage in early to late summer.
Stylish Shady Containers
Low light doesn't have to cramp your creativity or limit your plant choices
by Karen Chapman
Container Plantings in the Shade Yield a Spectacular Garden
You don't need a lot of sun or even access to the soil to have a lovely garden
by Gary Keim
Colorful Selections For Shade
With these striking plants, you'll never need to settle for a sea of green again
by Gene E. Bush
Potted plants keep flower beds looking their best
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
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