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Aucuba are grown for their bold foliage, autumn fruit, and adaptability to shade, dry soil, pollution, and coastal conditions. A. japonica is a rounded, evergreen shrub with small, reddish purple flowers in spring, and red berries (on female plants) in fall. It grows to about 10 feet tall and wide. 'Crotonifolia' has leaves that look like they were speckled with yellow paint. 'Gold Dust' is female with heavy yellow speckling. 'Mr. Goldstrike' is male, more upright, and has gold-splashed leaves. Use as a hedge or specimen, in a container outdoors, or as an imposing houseplant.
A better-behaved cousin to the less-than-polite trumpet vine, cross vine is a colorful solution for a fence or arbor with afternoon shade. Although this east Texas native is slow to establish, ‘Tangerine Beauty’ sports brighter, showier flowers than other cultivars and will reward your patience with loads of orange blooms in both spring and fall. Flowers bloom on old wood, so prune this vine immediately only after blooms fade. -Leslie Finical Halleck, Fine Gardening #147 (October 2012), page 74
Foot-long blossoms are nocturnally fragrant, and pour out from narrow calyces of light yellow, to terminate in fluted, reflexed openings the hues of golden summer squash.
Few plants evoke tropicalia quite like the Brugmansias, with their voluminous tubular flowers that drip from imposing shrubs or small trees. They look fantastic in containers or plunged into a border, and the dramatic display persists from late spring until autumn. In cooler climates, they may be brought under glass or cut back and held dormant in a cool basement. All parts are highly toxic if ingested.
Foot-long, rich pink blossoms are nocturnally fragrant and pour out from narrow calyces to terminate in wide, flared openings.
Japanese camellias shine in winter, with their glossy, deep green leaves and brilliant symmetry. Red, pink, and white lowers appear in spring, and they range from solids to stripes and from single cups of petals to tight double blooms. -Nellie Neal, Regional Picks: Southeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
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.
This dwarf Chamaecyparis has a weeping habit and gold to lime green finely-textured needles. It's great for providing year-round color.
'Sundance' Mexican orange blossom is an evergreen, compact shrub with white, fragrant flowers borne in late spring, and again in late summer and autumn. Groups of three little leaflets give the young yellow-green foliage a pleasing pattern, while the waxy, glossy texture adds a luminous quality.
This is a coniferous evergreen with year-round interest and a graceful shape. Young foliage emerges a pale shade of yellow in a herringbone pattern in the spring and is a striking contrast to the deeper green of the older needles by summer. Crinkled brown cones dangle daintily on the ends of the branches in autumn, followed by new developing cones gleaming like little lanterns through the winter.
This conical evergreen offers year-round interest and a graceful shape, with branches that are more pendent than the species. Young foliage emerges a pale shade of yellow in a herringbone pattern in the spring and is a striking contrast to the deeper green of the older needles by summer. Crinkled brown cones dangle daintily on the ends of the branches in autumn, followed by new developing cones gleaming like little lanterns through the winter.
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.
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.
Large, paddle-shaped leaves with prominent veins make this tree a standout in containers outdoors or as a houseplant. Native to topical regions of western and central Africa, fiddle-leaf fig has leathery, glossy, evergreen leaves and round fruit. In the wild, it can reach 100 feet tall and almost as wide, but its size is easily controlled in containers. It was a popular houseplant in the 1950s and 60s.
From late fall through winter, the leathery leaves of hellebores stay glossy, cheery, and green. Hybrids of H. orientalis and other species have a clump-forming habit and leathery leaves. They begin blooming in February or March in a range of shades, adding much needed color very early in the season. The blooms last for a very long time, especially if the weather stays cool. Hellebores are tolerant of summer heat and humidity. -Marty Hair, Regional Picks: Upper Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127
Hellebores begin blooming in mid-winter in a range of colors, adding much needed color very early in the season. They bloom when the temperature is below freezing, even amidst the snow. Protect from cold winter winds, especially when not insulated by snow, to avoid damaged foliage. Avoid ingestion of all plant parts and contact with the sap.
'Forsyth Lemon Drop' is lovely and cheerful daylily cultivar.
This vigorous evergreen holly bears abundant, shiny scarlet fruit. Use it as a screen, a background plant, or as a specimen.
Blue holly, so named for the glossy blue-green leaves, is a dense, vigorous shrub that can reach 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Insignificant flowers bloom in late spring. Female plants have glossy red fruit. There are many cultivars available.
A guide to growing, care, and propagation of rex begonias, plus some great cultivars
by Rita Randolph
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
Sweetly Scented Annuals
Pique your senses all season long with colorful, long-blooming beauties
by Danielle Ferguson
4 Ways to Design with Coleus
If you're having trouble finding the right plant for the right place, this versatile performer offers a multitude of options
by Ray Rogers
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