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This upright, herbaceous perennial has slender, hairy stems reaching 1.5 to 3 feet tall, with clusters of lavender-rose, lilac-pink, or white flowers. The stems often have burgundy spots on them. Blooms appear in early summer and midsummer.
This garden phlox has striking, bicolor lavender-and-pink flowers beginning in early summer and displays a pleasing compact form. Its slightly waxy leaves hold powdery mildew at bay, and the plant doesn't even flinch in heat, humidity, or drought. 'John Fanick' grows to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
This New Zealand flax has dark reddish brown leaves that form a neat clump less than 2 feet tall and about as wide. It makes a great container plant.
Plectranthus cultivars are popular foliage plants, but some gardeners grow them for their blooms, and one of the best bloomers is 'Mona Lavender'. This cultivar has abundant lavender-purple flowers that complement the dark green leaves (with purple undersides and stems). These plants thrive in light to deep shade. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
Grown mainly for its velvety gray succulent leaves, this Australian native shrub can reach 3 feet high and wide.
As the name implies, this plectranthus has green leaves with lime green edges. Some of the leaves are entirely lime green. It looks great mingling around the feet of perennials, shrubs, and annuals.
Soft, fuzzy, purple-tinged leaves make this Plectranthus a good companion plant in containers.
This evergreen shrub, native to South Africa, has long, skinny stems and phlox-like pale blue flowers. It can be used as a shrub, climber, pot plant, or groundcover.
As the cultivar name suggests, the leaves of ‘Kaleidoscope’ have distinctive markings, which can range in color from silver to light green to nearly black. Maroon flowers bloom in early summer. This plant is mostly evergreen. The plant's growth habit is umbrella-like. -Sylvia Matlock, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
Mayapple is a rhizomatous, native woodland perennial with leaves in the shape of an umbrella. They may form large colonies. In spring, white or pale pink waxy flowers are mostly hidden under the leaves. The greenish "mayapple" follows and is often eaten by wildlife. When fully ripe, the fruits may be used to make preserves or jellies, but they are toxic when unripe. Leaves and roots are poisonous. Plants often go dormant in the summer. Grow in a woodland garden.
This North American native bears deep blue or occasionally white, bell-shaped blossoms in spring and possibly late summer if deadheaded. It grows from 1 to 3 feet tall. Use Jacob's ladder in a lightly shaded border, rock garden, woodland, or cottage garden.
This dramatic cultivar has bright green leaves that are richly edged with cream. It bears lavender-blue blossoms in spring, and grows from 1.5 to 2 feet tall.
This variegated cultivar offers white-edged leaves with pink tints on a compact plant to 1.5 feet tall. It bears light lavender-blue bell-shaped blossoms in spring.
From late spring to early summer, this species bears pendent, green-tipped white flowers along arching stems. These mature into spherical black fruit in autumn, when the foliage turns yellow.
Gracefully arching 2 to 3-foot tall burgundy stems support narrow leaves streaked in pure white. From late spring to early summer, this species bears white flowers that mature into spherical black fruit in autumn, when the foliage turns a golden yellow. Variegated Solomon's seal is a fine choice for a shady bed. -Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #27
This clumping, bushy perennial bears clusters of single, extremely vibrant red flowers all summer. The saucer-shaped flowers often attract butterflies. 'Gibson's Scarlet' is very hardy and tolerant of most soils.
This cheerful, reliable plant brings a nice touch of color to the garden in spring. The leaves are pointed and hairy and splattered with silvery blotches. As the plant grows, the leaves overlap, creating a swirly pattern. In spring, clusters of silky pink flowers appear. They fade to a soft blue that harmonizes well with the leaf color. -Sue Whetten, Regional Picks: Rocky Mountains, Fine Gardening issue #127
This perennial coneflower, sometimes grown as an annual, has a long season of flowers on thin, branching stems. The flowers resemble small hats, with yellow reflexed ray florets and large greenish-brown columnar centers.
A miniature, upright rose with glossy, dark green leaves and very dark red flowers from spring to fall, 'Black Jade' reaches only about 2 feet tall. It is good for growing in containers, rock gardens, and other small areas, or at the front of beds and borders.
This is one of the darkest-flowered roses from the oldest class of garden roses, the gallicas. 'Cardinal de Richelieu' is a strong grower with a compact, lax habit. The rounded, double, fragrant, deeply colored flowers are a deep burgundy-purple. They are in bloom from spring to early summer. Introduced in 1840.
Alliums All Season Long
Deer resistant and dynamic, these bulbs provide color from the first showers of spring to the last leaves of fall
by Stephanie Cohen
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
PLANTING PLAN: A deer-resistant bed that shines in fall and winter
by Nancy Matthews
Q&A Economical edging for beds
by Kate Feely
Are Pressure Treated Woods Safe in Garden Beds?
by Phil Wood
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