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A large shrub or small tree, Albizia julibrissin is native to Iran to Japan. It is a fast-growing plant whose seedlings can become invasive. It can be seen growing in the wild in the southeastern U.S. and California in waste places, fields, and along roads.
However, its bipinnate, ferny leaves and fluffy pink flowerheads that cover the tree in summer make it a garden-worthy plant, as do the fragrance emitted by the flowers, which attract bees. Seed pods that resemble flat beans follow the flowers and persist into winter. Still, care should be used so that seeds from garden plants can't escape into the wild.
Red Japanese barberry is a deciduous shrub with multi-season interest. Most striking are the deep reddish purple inch-long leaves. In spring, scented yellow flowers appear on arching stems. This barberry is an excellent hedge pland, and it also looks good in the middle to rear of beds and borders. Watch out for the brittle, three-pronged thorns. -Gerald Gibbens, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue#120
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.
This large, conical-shaped tree has dark green flattened sprays of evergreen scale-like leaves.
Lily of the valley's bell-shaped, sweetly scented flowers bloom in early spring. It likes partial to full shade and is perfect for a woodland garden. It may not be the best choice for your beds and borders because it tends to spread, but it is a perfect ground cover if you have a large shady spot under some trees.
This basal branching cordyline combines the rugged easy-care attributes of its cordyline cousins with an unusual mix of shiny dark color, compact bushy form, short stems and cascading grass-like leaves.
This is a tough evergreen shrub with pendent flowers that provide a delightful gardenia-like perfume during October and November. Brown fruit ripens to red in autumn. Handsome foliage is a lustrous green above, dull and silvery dotted with brown below.
This evergreen shrub can light up the dark corners of a garden. It grows quickly, and its branches are arched and somewhat spiny. Bright yellow, 3- to 4-inch-long leaves splashed are outlined in green. The twigs are a metallic copper color, and the undersides of the leaves are specled with a copper color, too. Tiny white flowers appear under the leaves in fall. They are hard to see, but very fragrant. Small orange fruit appear in spring. -Michael Lee, Fine Gardening issue #119
This gardenia cultivar features a very tight, upright form that is perfect for smaller gardens. It also boasts increased cold tolerance while maintaining the lustrous dark green foliage and abundant fragrant blooms you’ve come to expect from this genus.
Through the fall and into winter, pincushion hakea provides beautiful cut flowers for the holidays; the foliage and seedpods are also great for arrangements. You can prune it into a bushy shape or a slender, small tree. As a member of the Protea family, pincushion hakea does not like phosphorus fertilizer, and like most Australian plants, it prefers to be well mulched so that its specialized roots can extract nutrients from the mulch layer.
There are few better winter displays than the blossoms of 'Pallida' witch hazel. Bright green leaves line its flaring branches in spring and summer. After a display of yellow fall color, the plant shows its distinctive branch structure. Around the end of December, clusters of buds begin to open into spidery, pale yellow flowers. These cover the branches until early March, giving off a rich, fruity perfume. This small tree or large shrub grows up to 12 feet tall and wide.
This is a bushy, deciduous shrub with upright branches. Purple-flushed green leaves grow up to 4 inches long and are mildly resin scented when bruised. 'Albury Purple' bears stalked, star-shaped or cupped yellow flowers, up to 11 per cluster on distinctive 2-edged stems. Round, red berry-like fruit follows.
Dime-sized, drooping, bell-shaped yellow flowers have a faint anise fragrance, but they’re hidden under new foliage in June.
This annual climber has winged stems and deliciously fragrant, ruffled blossoms. Many cultivars exist with varying bloom color (solid, mixed, or bicolor), size, and climbing habit.
This early-blooming compact shrub bears intriguing pine-cone-shaped flowers that have dark-purple bracts, or “rabbit ears.” Bloom appears from late spring to summer. The foliage is gray-green.
Often used by florists, 'Star Gazer' lily has bright crimson flowers with purple spots and dark edges. These lilies grow to about 3 feet tall, so they generally don't need staking.
This cross of M. acuminata and M. denudata usually forms a small tree with an upright central leader or sometimes a multi-stemmed shrub. It has yellow cup to star-shaped flowers (3 to 4 inches across) that are fragrant and appear before the leaves in early to mid-spring.
This stunning hybrid has deep burgundy tulip-shaped flowers that appear in early spring before its 4- to 6-inch-long leaves unfurl. It makes an excellent small specimen tree, growing to 20 feet tall. It can be topped to form a hedge, and works well in large containers.
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
Bringing Sun and Shade Together
Show off what these extremes have to offer, then unite them with some common ground
by Dan Johnson
Find spots in your garden for plants you thought you couldn’t grow
by Dan Johnson
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