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This plant is a beautiful addition to the garden from early spring until autumn. Red shoots with a crystalline dusting emerge in early April, followed by 5-inch-long, egg-shaped leaves that mature to a dark, reddish green. Each 18-inch stem bears a 2-inch-wide, chalice-like, single pure-white flower with yellow anthers and purple filaments. Mature seedpods open to reveal metallic-blue pea-sized fertile seeds and holly-berry red unfertilized seeds.
Panicum Ruby Ribbons’ soft blue-green foliage emerges in the spring on upright, clumping plants. The foliage takes on a wine-red color in early summer, which intensifies as the season progresses. Flower heads appear in late summer, followed by ornamental seed heads, which, if left uncut, provide long-lasting winter interest.
Parrotia persica has one of the most beautiful foliage displays, in addition to year-round eye appeal and ease of maintenance. Reddish-purple when unfolding in spring, the leaves are a lustrous dark green in summer, and yellow to orange or scarlet in fall. Leaves hold their color for a long period. Older branches and trunks develop an exfoliating gray, green, white, and brown color that is a welcome asset in the winter garden. It grows successfully in Zones 4 to 8, tolerates sun and partial shade, and is easy to transplant. Often, vegetatively propogated forms offer more reliable fall color.
This deciduous tree has thick shoots and large, lobed, bright green leaves. Fragrant pinkish lilac flowers appear in late spring with the foliage. When grown as a perennial, its robust shoots become sturdy stems 2 inches in diameter, with mammoth leaves as much as 2 feet across. Paulownia tomentosa can grow to 12 feet tall in a single season.
This exemplary species has felted, gray, crinkled leaves. Over a long period, it exhibits sprays of butterfly-shaped, rich wine-red flowers, which contrast dramatically with the foliage. Its small stature makes it a perfect candidate for a container or a walkway edge. It has been used medicinally for the treatment of various infections, including bronchitis. It is a native of Africa.
Pennisetum 'Fireworks' is the first variegated purple fountain grass. The midvein, of the typical burgundy color, is flanked by hot pink margins.Information provided by Santa Rosa Gardens.
This cultivar of pearl millet has wide, deep purple foliage and stems. It forms a 5-foot-high specimen with tight cylindrical flowers of purple-brown seeds—a favorite of many birds. This plant makes a stunning container specimen. In the mixed border, its foliage contrasts nicely with other plants.
A refreshing new look to an old time favorite ornamental grass! Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ is the first variegated purple fountain grass. The midvein is the typical burgundy color and is flanked by hot pink margins. Produces beautiful red-burgundy foxtail flowers. Great accent plant and excellent in containers. -Santa Rosa Gardens
This tropical annual produces mounds of narrow burgundy-red foliage and purple plumes to 1 foot long. It is invaluable for containers and stunning, annual foliage color in a border. It rarely sets seed.
Rocky Mountain penstemon is an upright perennial that forms a mat of glossy green leaves from which arise straight, 2-foot-tall stems bearing rich purple blooms. It flowers in early June and occasionally throughout the summer. Blooms contrast nicely with yellow-blooming plants.
This massive herbaceous shrub needs a lot of room to show off its vase-shaped form, but it does not spread or self-sow like some of its relatives. It blooms close to the ground from June and continues throughout the summer atop 6-foot-tall stems. The large, white, astilbe-like blossoms fade to pink and then reddish-brown as the season comes to a close.
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.
Mock orange is an upright, deciduous shrub grown for its very fragrant, creamy white flowers that bloom in early summer. 'Aureus' has golden yellow leaves in spring that turn yellow-green in summer. Use in a shrub border or woodland garden.
This New Zealand flax has dark reddish brown leaves that form a neat clump less than 2 feet tall and about as wide. It makes a great container plant.
An excellent architectural specimen, New Zealand flax has a striking geometric shape and intriguingly colored foliage. Rigid, upright leaves to 10 feet long grow in a clump. Cultivars come in chocolate-brown or a mixture of cream, pink, and green stripes. In summer, this Phormium produces a 12-foot-tall spike of tubular red flowers.
Pale yellow, four-inch-long flowers dangle all around the stems of this evergreen, fuchsia look-alike. Given a long enough growing season, it can reach 5 feet tall and as wide. Where not hardy, grow it as a tender perennial.
This clumping bamboo is native to eastern and central China and can reach 15 feet tall and almost as wide. After two or three years, slender green culms turn a lustrous black. The foliage is abundant and dark green, making a stunning combination with the stems. Grow as screening, in large containers, or in a woodland setting where the stems can be appreciated.
With its upright, arching branches and dark chocolate to purple foliage, Diabolo® ninebark offers a color contrast with silver-leaved plants and makes a fine backdrop hedge. Clusters of button-like, pinkish white flowers appear in summer. Even when they fade to a tawny tone, they stand out nicely against the dark leaves. -Chris McKernan, Regional Picks: Lower Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
Many gardeners know ninebark as an undistinguished shrub with ordinary green leaves, white flowers, and fall fruit. But 'Seward,' sold under the trademark name Summer WineTM, has outstanding burgundy leaves and pink flowers that bloom in early summer. This plant is super tough and makes a stunning focal point in a summer border.
A compact plant with a mature height of 8 feet, this conifer is densely globe-shaped when young, becoming pyramidal as it ages. Needles are soft green on top, bluish green at the bottom.
This spruce has blue foliage and drooping branches. It grows 3 or 4 inches a year, eventually spreading to about 8 feet wide and 4 feet tall, with silvery needles like its parent species.
'Procumbens' is similar to 'Pendula' in color but prostrate in habit, with cascading branches sometimes staying stiffly horizontal. Makes a spreading, undulating, mounding ground cover of silvery white needles.
This neat, rounded shrub has given rise to many noteworthy cultivars. It grows to 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide, producing drooping clusters of delicate white blossoms in winter and spring. Use this shrub in a woodland, rock garden, container, or as a foundation plant.
This compact, rounded shrub produces reddish-purple buds that first open as soft-pink then mature to white. It grows to about 5 feet high and wide, making it a superb specimen for a container or small garden.
This pine's needles are marked with bands of yellow and green. The buttery yellow variegation on the 3- to 5-inch needles is present year-round, but intensifies as summer turns to fall and persists into winter. The scaly, fissured bark is lovely, ranging in color from gray to rich rusty orange. This is a graceful tree when mature, with an irregular branching habit and tilted trunk.
Dark green, 4- to 6-inch-long needles and furrowed bark (on mature trees) make Austrian pine an attractive large specimen tree. It can also be used as screening, although its growth habit becomes more open with age.
The yellow-green leaves of this pine are 4 to 6 inches long. The bark is densely branched and flaky and reddish in the upper crown, scaly and pink-gray at the base. The tree has thick orange to red-brown shoots, chestnut-brown female cones, and purple male cones.
This robust evergreen tree has a narrowly columnar crown with ascending branches, slender gray-green leaves, and smooth gray bark. Tapered green female cones ripen to brown.
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
Dwarf white-stripe has 5-inch-long, upward-pointing green leaves strongly variegated with white. It grows up to 3 feet tall in either sun or shade, forming a striking contrast to less flamboyant neighbors.
This bamboo has showy variegated leaves of green and gold in an irregular pattern of stripes. It is a running bamboo, making it good for naturalizing and filling in or for hedging, but it may need to be controlled by underground barriers. It grows to about 5 feet high.
This dramatic cultivar has bright green leaves that are richly edged with cream. It bears lavender-blue blossoms in spring, and grows from 1.5 to 2 feet tall.
This variegated cultivar offers white-edged leaves with pink tints on a compact plant to 1.5 feet tall. It bears light lavender-blue bell-shaped blossoms in spring.
The Christmas fern is a particularly accommodating garden plant. It is adapted to a wide range of conditions, from very dry to moist, and is hardy to Zone 3. The plant’s 1- to 2-foot fronds are dependably evergreen—hence the common name—but they lie flat on the ground through the winter. Few hardy ferns have more beautiful deep, glossy green foliage.
'Schubert' choke cherry, with its vivid foliage and pyramidal form, makes a fine focal point. Ephemeral, light pink flowers are followed by abundant, dark red-purple fruit that birds love. (Don't plant it near patios or walks, as they'll quickly be covered by bird droppings.) If the tree you buy isn't grafted onto nonsuckering rootstock; otherwise, suckers could become problematic as the years go by. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
The golden larch is a lovely deciduous conifer whose lacy foliage turns golden in autumn. Its bright green needles are slightly larger than those of the European larch. Golden larch becomes a large pyramidal tree with an ultimate height of about 50 feet in cultivation. Its broad, horizontal branches are arranged in an open growth habit. In a big garden, it makes a neat specimen that never fails to attract attention.
‘Bertram Anderson’ is an older cultivar of lungwort with excellent foliage. In early spring, pink buds open to bright blue flowers, then silver-spotted leaves unfurl for a season-long show. Lungworts can have mildew problems, but ‘Bertram Anderson’ is highly resistant. When you cut off the old foliage in late winter, wear gloves; the tiny hairs all over the leaves (which keep the deer away) can irritate your skin. -Irvin Etienne, Fine Gardening #147 (October 2012), page 72
This cheerful, reliable plant brings a nice touch of color to the garden in spring. The leaves are pointed and hairy and splattered with silvery blotches. As the plant grows, the leaves overlap, creating a swirly pattern. In spring, clusters of silky pink flowers appear. They fade to a soft blue that harmonizes well with the leaf color. -Sue Whetten, Regional Picks: Rocky Mountains, Fine Gardening issue #127
This easy-to-grow, pest-resistant pear resembles a Bradford pear in size and shape, with profuse white blooms in spring and great crisp fruit. There are 30 cultivars.
Royal azalea has large, fragrant pink blooms in spring. This large-leaved azalea also has purple-hued foliage in spring, turning velvet green in summer, and finally fading to yellow in autumn.
'Carmencita' castor bean is a shrub, usually grown as an annual, that grows to 6 to 10 feet and is well branched, with dark bronze-red foliage and bright red female flowers. Grow in a cool greenhouse or use as a specimen foliage plant in the summer outdoors.
This large, fast-growing tree has droopy leaves that stay sunny yellow from spring until frost, spiny shoots, and fragrant white flowers in late spring and early summer on pendent racemes. The flowers are followed by smooth brown seed pods that are also interesting. 'Frisia' is one of the cultivars that is grown more for foliage than for its flowers and it does not flower as freely as the species.
This species has palmate, wrinkled leaves that extend to 2 feet wide. The veins and leaf stalks are reddish-brown and densely woolly. In midsummer, the 2-foot-long, upright flower spikes are made up of white or pink florets.
This species creates tropical drama with its large, toothed leaves and ivory-green, footlong flowers. It exhibits reddish-bronze color in autumn.
This showy rose produces a pastel cloud of small pink flowers with lighter centers. The blossoms are single and shallow-cupped; they occur in large, loose clusters. Blooms hold up better in partial shade. This rose grows from 4 to 6 feet tall and wide, blooming from spring to autumn.
This outstanding rose has single, fragrant blossoms of rich cabernet-red. The young foliage emerges chartreuse, while the new stems and small thorns are claret. The flowers are followed by hips the color of ripe grapes, which contrast with the amber autumn foliage. This rose grows up to 8 feet high.
This rose produces single, carmine-pink, slightly fragrant blooms nonstop from June until frost. It grows 2.5 to 5 feet high and wide.
The white of this rose has a purity of color that is without equal. It produces semi-double, very fragrant flowers from spring to fall, which are sometimes followed by orange hips. It grows to 6 feet high and wide.
This sweetly scented, rambling rose has glossy leaves and produces large groups of semi-double, creamy-white, 2-inch-wide blossoms in summer. It grows to 30 feet high.
This fragrant rose produces generous clusters of double apricot flowers that fade to a soft yellow. It usually grows to 5 feet and taller when trained, making it an ideal candidate for screening or growing up a wall, arch, or trellis. It blooms from spring to autumn.
This dwarf rose grows to only 18 inches tall, and covers itself all season long with large clusters of lightly scented vibrant pink flowers.
This fragrant rose blooms nonstop from June until frost, with vivid pink, semidouble blossoms. It grows 6 to 8 feet high, making it ideal for training up walls, pillars, or other structures.
This old-fashioned looking rose has a bicolor look with its clustered coral buds and pink double flowers with copper centers. It forms an arching shrub, reaching 5 feet high and wide, and blooms from spring to autumn, with its largest flush in the spring.
This climber produces an endless display of fragrant apricot-yellow blossoms. It grows to about 12 feet high and makes the perfect vertical accent in the garden.
This scented rose was reputed to be a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt. It has beautifully formed, double rosy-pink blossoms. It blooms all season long and grows to 5 feet high and wide.
This rose has large clusters of small, violet-red pompom blossoms with a spicy fragrance. It blooms nonstop throughout the season and grows to 5 feet or more.
This David Austin rose grows to only 2.5 feet tall. It produces beautifully cupped, double white flowers with petals densely arranged in the center. It is strongly scented.
Each bush is covered in a mass explosion of amber blooms. One of the new Next Generation Flower Carpet roses with improved heat and humidity tolerance and disease resistance.
Each bush is covered in a masses of scarlet red blooms from late spring thru fall. One of the new Next Generation Flower Carpet roses with improved heat and humidity tolerance and disease resistance.
This choice rose has single, gently cupped light-pink flowers that exude an intense, clove-scented perfume. It blooms in spring and sporadically throughout the season, and produces red hips. In autumn, the foliage turns deep maroon, which changes to yellow tinged with coppery highlights. It grows to 3 to 4 feet high and wide.
This rose with an influential namesake has beautifully cupped double blossoms of rich pink. It produces arching stems to 5 feet or more and 3 feet wide, making it an ideal candidate for training up a low structure.
This notable rose has quartered-rosette, double blossoms of rich yellow. It produces arching stems to 5 feet or more, making it an ideal candidate for training up a low structure.
This fragrant rose produces semi-double, medium-pink flowers occuring in large clusters. It grows 5 feet tall and up to 8 feet wide, making it ideal for training up a wall, arch, or trellis. It blooms from spring to autumn.
This fragrant rose produces single salmon-pink blossoms with yellow basal highlights. It blooms nonstop from June until frost and grows 3 to 5 feet high and wide.
This deeply fragrant rose produces rounded double blossoms of mauve-red in spring and fall. It grows to 6 feet high and wide.
This R. bracteata and Hybrid tea cross exhibits many attributes of its parentage. It bears large, single soft-yellow blossoms (to 5 inches across) with a deeper hued center and conspicuous, ruddy-orange stamens. It grows to 20 feet high or wide and blooms continuously, making it a beautiful choice for climbing up walls, fences, or other sturdy structures. It can also be maintained as a shrub.
This profuse bloomer produces enormous sprays of small, single pink blooms with white centers and dark reddish-pink edges. While it lacks fragrance, it is disease free, and if left alone, produces orange hips. It grows 5 feet tall and up to 8 feet wide, making it ideal for training up a wall, arch, or trellis. It blooms from spring to autumn.
This rose produces musky and sweet-scented blossoms of pale to medium pink, which bloom continuously from spring until frost. They are followed by large orange hips. 'Old Blush' grows to about 4 feet high and wide.
This rose produces a profusion of rosette-shaped ivory blossoms in large clusters. It forms a densely arching shrub, reaching 8 feet high and 4 feet wide and blooming from spring to autumn. It is ideal as a low climber up a wall, arch, or trellis.
This David Austin rose produces vibrant, semi-double red blossoms with contrasting yellow stamens all season long. It grows from 2.5 to 5 feet tall.
This compact rose has fragrant, fuschia-red flowers packed with petals that fade to purple as they age. It grows up to 4 feet high and 3 feet wide, and blooms from spring to fall.
This intensely fragrant rose has high-centered, double blossoms of creamy pink edged with deeper pink. It blooms in summer and into fall, and grows to 5 feet high and 2 feet wide.
This small rose is ideal for the front of the border because its size rarely exceeds 2 feet in height. It produces pale lavender-pink to white, quartered-rosette blossoms with a spicy fragrance. It blooms from spring to autumn.
This double-flowered rose has yellow blossoms with green outer petals. The flowers are perfectly formed and are excellent for cutting. It blooms in summer and into fall, and grows to 5 feet high and 3 feet wide.
This well-loved rose blooms nonstop from June until frost, with double, rosette-shaped blossoms of light pink. It grows 2 to 3 feet high and wide.
This rose produces brilliant hot pink blossoms at the tips of wide, arching branches. It forms a loosely branched shrub, reaching 6 feet high and 10 feet wide, and blooms from spring to autumn. It is ideal as a low climber up a wall, arch, or trellis.
This beautiful repeat bloomer tolerates shadier conditions than other roses and poor soils. The fragrance is absolutely wonderful, and the rose is nearly thornless.
Information provided by Brushwood Nursery
This beauty is prized for the unusual qualities of its flowers, which bloom continuously from spring until frost. The single cupped flowers open a honey-yellow, then they become coppery-pink, then watermelon, and finally a rich mahogany. The foliage is reddish purple, disease-resistant, and is evergreen in warm climates. This rose can be treated as a shrub or trained as a climber, reaching 10 feet high and 6 feet wide.
Each bush is covered in a mass explosion of vivid pink blooms all summer long. One of the new Next Generation Flower Carpet roses with improved heat and humidity tolerance and disease resistance.
This species produces single medium pink blossoms with decorative indents at the tips of the petals. It blooms in spring, followed by hips that age to brown. In the winter, its bark peels in shades of brown and beige. It grows 6 to 10 feet high and 6 feet wide.
'Agnes' is one of the few yellow rugosa roses, and it epitomizes the finest rugosa attributes in both leaf and overall form. Doubled blooms give this selection an old-fashioned aspect, as does its delightful fragrance, which is reminiscent of antique roses. Bloom color changes somewhat with the temperature: in cool temperatures, the flowers are an apricot hue, but as the weather warms, they turn a soft yellow. -Suzanne Verrier, No muss, no fuss rugosa roses, Fine Gardening issue #121
Though not very well known, 'Dart's Dash' is one of the best of the crimson double rugosa roses. 'Dart's Dash' has large blossoms with the spicy scent typical of rugosas and when blooming is done, the plant puts forth a marvelous display of showy hips. It establishes itself quickly and is a fine choice for a low hedge. -Suzanne Verrier, No muss, no fuss rugosa roses, Fine Gardening issue #121
Large, open, semi-double pink flowers with yellow stamens and an intoxicating scent make 'Foxi' an outstanding rugosa rose. The relatively small height of the shrub makes the blossoms appear larger. This is a relatively new rugosa rose. -Suzanne Verrier, No muss, no fuss rugosa roses, Fine Gardening issue #121
'Henry Hudson' has flattened, symmetrical, semi-double, white flowers with a spicy clove scent. The dense and deep green foliage makes a fitting backdrop for this selection's reddish buds and ensuing cream-colored flowers. The blossoms don't drop cleanly, so deadheading is necessary. -Suzanne Verrier, No muss, no fuss rugosa roses, Fine Gardening issue #121
'Linda Campbell' is an unscented, true red rugosa rose. Attractiv, smooth-leaved glossy foliage and clusters of elegant buds open to bright blossoms. It grows in an upright habit and makes a very nice addition to the back of a hot-color border. -Suzanne Verrier, No muss, no fuss rugosa roses, Fine Gardening issue #121
'Polar Ice' is one of the most vigorous and densely growing rugosa roses and features clusters of double, slightly nodding flowers. Green buds open to creamy white blooms with pink petals and deeper pink centers. The flowers smell lightly of baby powder, and the new lime green foliage smells like strawberries and sweet grass. In autumn, the foliage turns bright yellow. -Suzanne Verrier, No muss, no fuss rugosa roses, Fine Gardening issue #121
'Purple Pavement' has large, ruffled blossoms with a purple-red color and strong fragrance. In the fall, the blossoms give way to large, handsome hips, and the foliage turns from green to shades of yellow and maroon. This shapely shrub with dependable repeat bloom it is especially good for a late display, when the hips appear alongside fall asters and other perennials with assertive autumn colors. -Suzanne Verrier, No muss, no fuss rugosa roses, Fine Gardening issue #121
'Wasagaming' (pronounced "wah-SAG-ah-ming") is a prolific bloomer that has the charm of the antique roses but with greater vigor and better growth habit. Cascading rich pink blossoms with an old-rose scent spill across the shrub. 'Wasagaming' will thrive in less sunny but bright conditions. -Suzanne Verrier, No muss, no fuss rugosa roses, Fine Gardening issue #121
This variety has single, papery white blossoms that open from light pink buds and have contrasting yellow stamens. The heavily-scented flowers are followed by reddish-orange hips. It grows up to 6 feet high.
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
Find spots in your garden for plants you thought you couldn’t grow
by Dan Johnson
Bringing Sun and Shade Together
Show off what these extremes have to offer, then unite them with some common ground
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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