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This large, clump-forming grass has linear leaves with central white stripes. In late summer it bears huge, purplish-bronze flower clusters, which eventually fade to silver. It resents high fertility and shows considerable drought tolerance.
This choice species boasts narrow, downy sage-green leaves and true sky-blue blossoms from summer to fall. It has woody stems and forms a beautiful specimen 12 inches tall by 18 inches wide.
This tender perennial from Peru is highly unusual for its dramatic, purple-black flowers and pistachio-green calyces. The flowers appear from late summer to early fall. The drama is heighted by its contrasting silvery leaves and stems, which are densely cloaked in woolly, white hairs. Plants grow to about 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide. This specimen looks great tumbling over the edge of a container.
Little bluestem is a tidy, finely textured clumping grass with a blue-green summer color. Its silvery seed heads rise to a height of nearly 2 feet in late summer and are at their best when backlit in the morning or afternoon sun. In fall, the grass turns a rosy rust color that lasts all winter.
This flowering evergreen tree has pinnate leaves 4 to 6 inches long. Notched, mid-green leaflets grow in pairs. Pea-like, fragrant blue-violet flowers in terminal racemes appear in spring, maturing to bright red seeds.
This evergreen species makes a handsome specimen with narrow, arching foliage that is streaked orange in summer and becomes orange-brown in winter. Its fine, pendent flower inflorescences open purplish-green in midsummer and have a misty quality.
This semi-evergreen species makes a stately, stand-alone specimen with narrow, arching foliage and shimmering gold panicles that reach 8 feet tall. The flowers open in June as silvery-purple and mature to shades of wheat.
No other grass exhibits quite the refinement of texture as this species. Its bright green foliage resembles delicate filaments that arise in elegant, vase-like clumps and spill outward like a soft fountain. All summer it bears a profusion of feathery panicles, which mature from foamy-green to blonde. It is native to the Americas.
This small deciduous shrub is covered in early spring with pink buds that burst open to reveal slightly fragrant, showy, flat-topped white flowers. Fleshy red fruit is borne in pendulous bunches in late August, darkening to all-black in October. Leaves fade to a dark maroon in the fall and winter months when planted in colder areas. Plants grow to about 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide. A cross between V. utile and V. × burkwoodii ‘Park Farm Hybrid’, this shrub is excellent as a foundation plant, as a specimen, in mass groupings, in a shrub border, or in containers. Evergreen to Zones 7 and 8.
Like other creeping myrtles, 'Illumination' is a tough evergreen ground cover for shade that will grow in almost any soil. Its hallmark is its bright gold leaves that are edged with a border of irregular green. Periwinkle-blue flowers appear in spring. Use 'Illumination' as a shade ground cover or in hanging baskets. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
This dramatic architectural plant is one of the most beautiful variegated yuccas on the market. Its sword-shaped leaves bear bold central stripes of bright canary-yellow against a rich celadon edge. In cool weather, margins are tinged pink, and the entire yellow stripe turns rose-colored on many of the leaves, lasting through early spring. Plants grow to 2 feet wide and nearly as tall. Branched clusters of nodding, creamy-white bells open in mid-summer on stout stems that reach 6 feet tall.
This easy to grow evergreen yucca bears dramatic, sword-shaped yellow leaves with a dark green edge. Not as staunchly upright as some yuccas, its leaf tips sometimes droop with age. Its foliage color is best from fall to spring. Plants grow to nearly 2 feet in height and 3 feet in width. In summer, it produces a 6-foot-tall spike covered with nodding, fragrant, white bell-shaped flowers.
This sculptural plant bears sword-like leaves to 24 inches long in shades of blue- or gray-green and maturing to dark green, with smooth margins. In summer, the plant produces 8-foot spikes of nodding, bell-shaped, fragrant white flowers, sometimes tinged purple, to 2 inches long.
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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