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Thick, succulent grayish green leaves tipped with spines make this 3-foot-tall and wide agave a striking addition to a xeric bed or desert garden. Although its color is muted, its architectural form can't be overlooked.
This perennial produces milk chocolate-colored flowering buds that open in spring with golden yellow petals over blue-green foliage.
This stunning evergreen conifer can be a very large specimen tree (to over 100 feet) in the landscape. Its young, silvery foliage turns vivid glaucous blue as it ages; the sharply pointed leaves are arranged in whorls. Female cones are green and can be up to 4 inches long; they ripen slowly over 2 years to pale brown. This tree needs a lot of space to reach its majestic potential.
Yellowwood is a vase-shaped spreading tree with dark green foliage that turns a delicate yellow or orange in the fall and smooth light gray bark. Breathtaking, pendulous, foot-long, wisteria-like clusters of fragrant white flowers appear in late spring and early summer, often in alternate years.
This stunning grass has 1- to 3-foot-long, densely tufted plumes atop tall, upright stalks and arching mid-green leaves. Plumes come in white, cream, or beige-pink and appear in late summer.
This dwarf cultivar has mid-green leaves and densely tufted plumes atop tall, upright stalks and arching mid-green leaves. Masses of silvery yellow plumes appear in late summer.
This species produces very tall spires of pale pink flowers with yellow stamens atop leafless stems that puncture vertical space with unmatched elegance.
This upright, evergreen shrub has stunning texture and form. Its gray-green leaves and woolly, purple-tinged stems form billowy, 4-foot long branches. From early spring to early summer, it produces giant cylindrical bract clusters in yellow-green with purple-black nectar glands, and creates a specimen that looks otherworldly.
This unusual looking plant has many succulent, pencil-like branches. The leaves are small and short-lived, and the flowers are insignificant. Euphorbia tirucalli can grow to almost 30 feet in the wild, but it can be used as a smaller specimen or container plant in the garden. It is hardy only in Zone 11.
An excellent shade tree, this European-native deciduous tree grows to 80 feet tall and 50 feet wide and features an upright, oval form and dark shiny green leaves that turn yellow to rust-colored in fall. Its spring flowers are insignificant, though the small nuts that follow are favored by birds and squirrels. This tree is slow-growing. Several cultivars are available, including those with differing forms and foliage colors.
This southwestern native shrub grows to 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide and sports long, dull, spiny stems that green up and leaf out after a rain, followed by long, scarlet flowers that attract hummingbirds.When dry conditions return, ocotillo drops its leaves again. This cycle can replay several times a season. Great as a surprising specimen or forbidding hedge.
One of the oldest tree species on the planet, ginkgo grows only about a foot a year, reaching 50 to 80 feet. Female trees set fleshy fruit that smell unpleasant as they decay; they contain edible nuts.
Dense clusters of pendulous yellow flowers dangle from spreading branches in late spring. Leaves are dark green. Smooth green bark adds some winter interest.
This compact shrub was bred by the noted horticulturist, Dr. Michael Dirr. It was selected not only for its small stature but also for its excellent disease resistance and standout flower color.
This is a fast-growing, upright deciduous tree with delicate white flowers in early summer. As it matures, it develops a spectacular patchwork of bark in shades of gray, maroon, and brown. Oblong dark green leaves turn red-orange in autumn. Cultivar 'Fantasy' is vigorous and hardier than the species, with exceptional bark.
Crape myrtle is an upright deciduous tree or large shrub. Dark green leaves emerge bronze. White, pink, red, or purple flowers appear from summer to autumn. Peeling gray-and-brown bark is attractive.
A deciduous conifer with a pyramidal growth habit, European larch has pendulous lower branches. In spring, needles emerge a shiny chartreuse, turning to deep green by summer and to sunset gold in late fall. Cultivars include 'Pendula', a weeping cultivar; 'Fastigiata', a narrow and upright variety; and 'Pyramidalis'.
Fissured and scaly bark bark is tinted rust-brown in winter. Purplish red winter shoots are covered in a waxy bloom. Gray-green or bluish green leaves grow to 1.5 inches long.
This evergreen perennial has broad, lance-shaped mid-green leaves to 4 inches long, tinted with purple and borne in basal rosettes up to 18 inches in diameter. Open, funnel-shaped, pink-to-cream flowers to 3 inches across appear once in early spring.
This deciduous, monoecious, coniferous tree grows to 100 feet tall. Its oddly shaped, branch-pitted trunk is often deeply fluted and "buttressed" and has orange-brown bark. Attractive, lacy foliage is bright green in early summer, turning golden bronze before falling in autumn. Female cones are light brown and ovoid, while male cones are rounder, pendent, and darker brown.
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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