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Blue flax is a short-lived perennial with blue-green needlelike leaves on graceful 2-foot-tall stems. Satiny sky blue flowers, borne on wiry stems, appear in late spring, last through mid-summer, and open fully only on sunny days. Small rounded seedheads form in summer.
'Silver Dragon' lilyturf features thick, tufted evergreen clumps of linear silver and white leaves with a shimmering silver stripe running down the arching blades. Dense spikes of violet-mauve flowers are borne on purple-green stems in autumn, maturing to black berries.
Lilyturf is a great choice for problem sites, such as the dry shade under a tree canopy. 'Variegata' is a vibrant, grass-like plant with green foliage, striped with cream. Leaves are wider and more blunt at their tip than grasses, and in warmer climates, the foliage persists through the winter. Clumps run from 1 to 1-1/2 feet tall and half again as wide. Spikes of small blue-violet flowers appear in late September and are followed by dark purple berries. -Lou Anella, Regional Picks: Southern Plains, Fine Gardening issue #127
Cardinal flower has reddish purple stems and lance-shaped, often glossy, bright green leaves tinged with bronze. Bold red spikes of tubular two-lipped flowers with reddish purple bracts appear in summer and early autumn.
This clump-forming perennial has upright leafy stems. From late summer to mid-autumn, it bears dense spikes of light to bright blue tubular, two-lipped flowers with a more prominent lower lip.
Unlike most trailing lobelias, this cultivar does not falter in hot temperatures. Techno® Blue is covered in intense, cobalt blue flowers. Its semitrailing, mounding habit is a great addition to containers and hanging baskets.
With some of the darkest foliage you'll encounter in the genus Loropetalum, 'Carolina Midnight' is a great new introduction that will add some purple punch to the garden. The flowers are like dark fuchsia fireworks in a sky of purple. It is a great substitue for purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria) in the South.
This evergreen bushy shrub has fragrant, spider-like pink flowers borne in cymes in late winter or early spring. The oval leaves are burgundy colored.
This new, compact loropetalum has the reddest blooms of all cultivars. Dark burgundy foliage retains its color throughout the year. Great for specimen planting, mass plantings and borders.
Showy sprays of pretty purple or white flowers in spring are followed by papery, flat seedpods that look like silver dollars. Flowers may attract butterflies.
Russell hybrid lupines are widely available and available in myriad colors. They produce spikes of pea-like flowers in early and midsummer on 30-36-inch plants.
This spreading evergreen perennial has clumps of grass-like deep green basal leaves. Tiny, brilliant white flowers borne in tight clusters appear in early summer and midsummer.
Gray-green, spear-shaped leaves form a low, tidy, circular mound about 1 foot in diameter. This plant puts on a dazzling show of five-petaled magenta flowers on straight stalks about 2 feet high in mid-spring.
Red spider lily’s brilliant red flowers remind me of an azalea’s ball truss. Blooms fade quickly in hot weather, but a higher degree of shade helps them last a while longer. Depending on where it grows in the Southeast, red spider lily blooms from early September to mid-October. After the bloom stalks fade away, foot-long, strap-shaped leaves emerge and last through winter. Red spider lily is an heirloom bulb that is easily passed from hand to hand. Replant offsets as the leaves die in spring. -Parker Andes, Fine Gardening #147 (October 2012), page 71
Silver-blue, rushlike foliage is graced by one of the most distinctive flowers of all grasses: the inflorescence looks like little origami birds.
In early spring, this plant produces 16-inch-long, pointed white spathes that mask spikes of tiny green flowers, with no offensive odor. Large, glossy, leathery, oblong leaves 20 to 39 inches long grow from the base of the spathes.
Hairy loosestrife has dark burgundy- to chocolate-colored foliage that spreads to form large clumps but is generally not invasive. In midsummer, clusters of small yellow star-shaped flowers contrast with the leaves. It grows to 4 feet high and 2 feet wide and is good in a moist border, at a pond margin, or in a wild garden.
This vigorous grower has attractive, smooth, narrowly oval pointed leaves are mid-green above, pale green beneath. Tiny saucer-shaped white blossoms are produced in dense, tapered terminal spikes, 4 to 8 inches long, that curve gracefully over and down, from July to September. Leaves turn to rich gold in autumn.
A mass of small purple leaves and abundant golden yellow, bell-shaped flowers distinguish this groundcover. It is useful on slopes as well as in containers.
This herbaceous perennial forms clumps of gray-green leaves from which arise slender racemes of small white flowers with mauve-colored veins, making for an almost gray appearance. It makes an interesting cut flower, and the plant is not invasive like other loosestrifes.
A guide to growing, care, and propagation of rex begonias, plus some great cultivars
by Rita Randolph
Colorful Selections For Shade
With these striking plants, you'll never need to settle for a sea of green again
by Gene E. Bush
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
Forget the wallflower varieties - these 10 stars take center stage
by John O'Brien Nurserymen
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
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