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Cardoon is an architectural splendor with bold texture, thanks to its large, prickly, almost dagger-shaped gray-green arching leaves and a statuesque, vase-shaped frame. It is topped with round, purple, thistlelike flowers in midsummer. Cardoon can reach up to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
This stunning specimen has luminous, creamy-ivory leaves and narrow green margins. The pale pink flowers are secondary to the glamorous foliage, which can light up a shady border and create definitive contrast.
This rounded shrub has leaves with white margins, and pale pink star-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring, fall, and sometimes in between. The blossoms release an intoxicating fragrance.
This is a lovely species grown for its distinct pairs of 7-inch-long, assymetrical white bracts which hang from the branches in layers in late spring. Given room and maturity (seed-grown trees may not bloom for up to 20 years), this plant is notable in both form and flower.
Originating in mountainous woodland and stony habitats from Europe to western Asia, yellow foxglove is tolerant of dry shade but flourishes with moisture. Arising in midsummer from neat clumps of fine-toothed foliage, a mass of soft yellow open bells, speckled brown inside, blooms along one side of a 3-foot-tall stem. Usually described as a perennial, it is more accurate to call it a biennial or short-lived perennial. If the flowering stalk is cut down after blooms have faded, it may rebloom in the fall. When a few flower stalks are left, the plant self-seeds.
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 tree-like shrub bears pendent clusters of bell-shaped, creamy-white flowers with rose veins in late spring and early summer. In autumn, the foliage turns magnificent shades of orange and red.
This is perhaps the most refined Enkianthus, bearing dainty, white pendulous bells in May. It forms an elegant, rounded shrub to 6 feet with gracefully tiered branches and produces brilliant scarlet color in autumn.
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.
Like other cultivars of this genus, 'Courtasol' is as tough as nails. The biggest difference from the rest, however, lies in its form. The stems reach to only 18 inches tall before arching down to the ground and running along to yield a 5-foot-wide spread. Its grapefruit yellow flowers appear in early spring.
Striking, extra-large yellow blooms cover each stem from base to tip in early spring.
Its blaze of yellow flowers is surely one of the first harbingers of spring. Forsythia are widely recognized for their utility in a shrub border, a bank, or for hedging, and their light to deep yellow, four-petaled flowers.
This species draws much attention with its striking gaiety of color and form. Its large, bell-shaped flowers in shades of orange, yellow, and red dangle from tufts of shiny green leaf bracts. Sitting atop sturdy, 3-foot stalks, the flowers make a surprising and regal statement in the late spring garden.
This is the granddaddy of big-leaved perennials. No other plant can so thoroughly alter the scale of a garden while calling such attention to itself.
Carolina silverbell is a handsome tree with clean green foliage and an upright spreading habit. In mid- or late spring, hundreds of silvery-white bell-shaped flowers dangle from every branch before foliage emerges. The tree also has attractive bark, unusual four-winged seedpods, and yellow fall color.
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.
Daylilies are classic, extremely popular garden plants. They feature long, arching, strappy leaves and long stems of generally 6-petaled flowers, though double flowers are popular as well. Each flower lasts only one day, hence the plant’s common name. Daylilies come in a wide range of colors, from cream and cheery yellow to peach, orange, fiery red, deep burgundy, pink, and purple. Some have contrasting throats and "eye-zones." Daylilies are ideal for a mixed herbaceous perennial border.
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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