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This fern has cool, grey-green, almost silvery, foliage and reddish-purple stalks that are useful for brightening dark spots in borders. It is deciduous, and although it reaches only 8 to 12 inches in height, it is easy to grow, prolific, and easily divided.
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
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
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.
These showy shrubs have two distinct phases of garden interest. In winter, they display boldly colorful bark—red, yellow, or orange—on twiggy stems to make a striking scene. In spring, the stems lose their vivid color and produce bright green, gold, or variegated foliage that accents the garden through the fall. Twig and leaf color vary according to the cultivar.
This specimen is grown for its stunning golden leaves, which turn to brilliant shades of orange and red in autumn. It may or may not produce the smoke-like plumes typical of the genus.
This shrub or small tree has stunning dark red-purple foliage that turns scarlet in autumn. It has plume-like seed clusters, which appear after the flowers and give a long-lasting, smoky haze to branch tips.
This shrub or small tree has stunning deep purple foliage that turns orange-red in autumn. It has plume-like seed heads, which appear after the flowers and give a long-lasting, smoky haze to branch tips.
This cultivar boasts single, long-tubed, brick red flowers and dark bronze-red leaves and stems.
This is an upright evergreen shrub with lance-shaped leaves. Foliage emerges bright red or bronze, turning a leathery dark green. Small white flowers appear in mid- to late spring.
With its upright, arching branches and dark chocolate to purple foliage, Diabolo® ninebark offers a color contrast with silver-leaved plants and makes a fine backdrop hedge. Clusters of button-like, pinkish white flowers appear in summer. Even when they fade to a tawny tone, they stand out nicely against the dark leaves. -Chris McKernan, Regional Picks: Lower Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
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
Anyone who gardens in the shade is familiar with heucherella. ‘Sweet Tea’ was bred using Heuchera villosa, a native of the eastern United States, as one of its parents, which has added enough resistance to heat, drought, and humidity to make it able to handle even the extreme climate of Texas. ‘Sweet Tea’ has large, stained, orange-bronze leaves with dark burgundy veins and short spikes of small white flowers that appear in early spring. Its brightly colored foliage, however, is the main reason to have this plant. Give it well-drained soil, and lift and divide it every couple of years. -Jimmy Turner, Perennials for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133
A guide to growing, care, and propagation of rex begonias, plus some great cultivars
by Rita Randolph
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
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
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