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This is a rounded, semi-evergreen shrub to 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide with glossy, dark green leaves. From midsummer to autumn, it produces fragrant, funnel-shaped white flowers that are tinged with pink.
This round, mound-forming, deciduous Japanese maple has many qualities that make it an excellent garden plant, including a sculptural form, deeply cut foliage, arching shoots, and golden autumn color. The reddish purple flowers are tiny but attractive up close. They are followed by winged fruit. Threadleaf Japanese maple makes a beautiful specimen in small gardens and can be grown in large containers or used for bonsai.
This shrubby tree has leaves that emerge bronze, mature green, and fade to orange and red in autumn. It bears 3-inch-long racemes of white flowers in spring, followed by edible, juicy blue-black fruit.
The textural quality of this eastern native's stems and foliage is superb. During winter, a circle of the thorn-covered stems is as magical as an outdoor sculpture. Dark blue-green compound leaves offer a tropical effect before turning yellow and purple in autumn. One-foot-wide flower clusters sit atop the foliage in summer and transform into purple-black fruits that attract birds. Aralia spinosa grows to 30 feet tall and spreads indefinitely.
Fragrant white flowers in spring, red fall foliage, and persistent berries for winter interest make Aronia a valuable plant in all seasons.
This is an erect shrub with lustrous dark green leaves that turn scarlet in autumn. It produces numerous white flowers tinged with pink, and abundant showy red berries that persist into winter (birds dislike the taste).
A half-hardy perennial, this sophisticated climber grows to 8 feet tall. It has a profuse show of 1.5-inch indigo, violet, pink, or white flowers. It's great for the cold greenhouse or conservatory, and will often bloom until the end of the year unless there is a hard frost.
Tatarian aster is an impressive, stately perennial with a flowering height of 3 to 6 feet. It can look you in the eye yet require no staking. More important, this aster flowers longer than any other garden aster, beginning in late September and early October and continuing into November. The 1-inch-wide, light lavender flowers are a magnet for local and migrating monarch butterflies. This plant tolerates many soil types, can form large colonies in a few years, and is easily divided.
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.
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
Butterfly bushes are carefree deciduous shrubs that are reliably fragrant and easy to grow. Butterflies swarm to their blooms all summer long. 'Lochinch' has extremely fragrant lilac-blue flowers with orange eyes. It is a cross between B. davidii and B. fallowiana. Its arching, mounded habit typically reaches 3 to 5 feet in one season, but can grow much taller in the deep South. The 8- to 12-inch-long flower spikes begin in late summer and bloom until frost, starting a little later than the B. davidii cultivars.
Butterfly bushes are carefree deciduous shrubs that are reliably fragrant and easy to grow. Butterflies swarm to their blooms all summer long. 'Black Knight' has deep purple-blue, almost black, flowers in elongated clusters on arching branches to 10 feet tall if not cut back, and half that size if cut back. The blooms come from early summer to first frost. The foliage is willow-like and grayish green.
Although it produces small, lavender-pink flowers in spring, this plant is known mainly for its violet to magenta berries, which start appearing in October. The berries, massed in tight bunches that encircle the branches, are vivid against deep-green leaves.
This deciduous shrub has a dense, rounded habit, growing 6 to 9 feet tall and as wide. Its unusual, waterlily-like, fragrant flowers combine the scent of strawberries, banana, and pineapple. Flowers appear in May and continuing blooming on and off into June and July. The dark green leaves and bark release a clove or camphor-like scent when crushed.
In early spring, 'Forest Pansy' awakens with a long-lasting profusion of bright purplish-pink blooms borne in clusters, before the leaves, along smooth gray branches. Its heart-shaped, blood-red leaves are finely veined and glossy when young, slowly turning a dark, purple-tinged green in full sun. Autumn foliage is a bouquet of reds, purples, oranges, and yellows. The plant's graceful branching structure stands out in winter.
Downy clematis is a hardy, deciduous early bloomer that can flourish in Zone 4. The species will climb to 10 feet with a little support, and it has bell-shaped, purple-blue, almost columbine-like flowers about 1 to 2 inches, sometimes up to 4 inches in diameter, that mature to fluffy, pinkish seed heads. Blooms appear in spring and early summer, sometimes followed by a second flush in late summer to early autumn
This vigorous climber can easily cover a support of 8 to 10 feet tall once established. Finely textured, dense light-green foliage makes an excellent foil for dainty, pink and carmine teardrop-shaped flowers 2 inches across. Blooms appear in early August and continue well into autumn.
Larger in all respects than common sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), this sizable shrub or small understory tree grows 8 to 12 feet tall and wide. In early summer, long, slender racemes composed of small ivory flowers appear, then give way to peppercorn-shaped seed capsules that swoop out from the branch tips in fall. About the same time, lance-shaped leaves become a glowing golden yellow before falling to reveal the reddish brown bark. The bark peels in small, irregular patches in the fashion of sycamores (Plantus occidentalis) to expose a dusty gray under-bark. Cinnamon clethra is a good choice for a woodland garden, where the tiered branches and elegant stems look captivating against new fallen snow.
This upright, suckering shrub has fragrant, white or pink terminal flower spikes in late summer. The blooms look like bottle brushes and attract butterflies and bees. Leaves turn a pleasant yellow in autumn.
Though its leaves are small, this semi-deciduous shrub stands out in the landscape. Littleleaf cordia has a prolifically branching, slightly open form that looks good year-round. Its roughly textured, dark gray-green foliage contrasts nicely with its coppery brown young stems. From late spring into fall, branch tips bear clusters of pristine, white, funnel-shaped flowers to provide a visually cooling effect during the peak of summer heat. It grows to 6 to 8 feet tall and wide.
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
VIDEO Potting Soil Recipe for Cacti and Succulents
Perfect drainage makes this recipe succeed
by Jeff Moore
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
VIDEO A Collector's Paradise
Intuitive design turned a lifelong passion for succulents into a destination garden north of San Diego
by Patrick Anderson
PLANTING PLAN: A deer-resistant bed that shines in fall and winter
by Nancy Matthews
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