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Leatherleaf mahonia is a thick shrub with a formal feel. Its stiff, green-blue foliage looks something like holly foliage, and in spring, airy clusters of tiny, golden yellow flowers appear. These are followed in fall by inky blue berries. Consider this plant for a a mixed-shrub foundation planting, or use it as a hedge plant. -Nellie Neal, Regional Picks: Southeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
From May to frost, whatever the temperature, this plant's creamy yellow markings do not fade. It looks good in containers or in garden beds, and you can use it in the foreground or as a focal point in distant plantings. Variegated tapioca attains a height and width of 3 to 4 feet. It is normally grown as an annual, but can be overwintered indoors. -Allan Armitage, Plant picks, Fine Gardening issue #121
Honey bush has attractive, 12- to 20-inch-long pinnate leaves with sharply toothed silver-green leaflets. It bears spike-like racemes of oddly scented brownish crimson to brick-red flowers from late spring to midsummer.
Native to the southwestern U.S., California, and Mexico, wild four o'clocks cover themselves with hundreds of purple-pink, petunia-like blooms that open in unison in the afternoon or in the morning on cloudy days. Their musky fragrance attracts their primary pollinator, the hawkmoth. Grow in a border. xeric garden, or rock garden.
Variegated Japanese silver grass is a boon in any garden where fine texture, a gentle color scheme, and a bit of swaying in the wind are welcome. This grass can be used as a focal point, an anchor plant, or even as a privacy screen.
This elegantly shaped grass has narrow leaves with white mid-ribs and a vase-like form to 6 feet tall. It shows bronze autumn color and can stand throughout winter to provide architectural interest. Tassel-like inflorescences appear in fall and can be used as cut or dried flowers.
This beautiful grass has an "inner light" that emanates from the white midribs of its fine-textured leaf blades and the threads of white around their edges. A graceful shape usually between 5 and 6 feet tall, ‘Morning Light’, turns golden in November and fades to beige in winter.
An oversize tender perennial, blood banana has large, fleshy, rubberlike leaves with dark markings. The foliage is green with random reddish purple blotches. On mature plants, orange or red flowers develop into inedible orange fruits. -Julia Jones, Designing with annuals, Fine Gardening issue #120
This elegant fern-like herb has a mounding form and anise-flavored bright-green leaves. In late spring, it bears compound umbels of star-shaped white flowers, followed by shiny, ridged brown seeds.
Yellow-white flowers appear in late spring, followed by prolific berries that ripen from green to bright-red or purple in fall. The elegant foliage turns fiery red in fall. There are low, ground-hugging Nandina varieties; medium-sized shrubs for mid-border; and tall, bushy types for the back of the border.
'Little Red' is a dwarf selection of oleander, which is a large evergreen shrub. Its flowers are deep red and bloom all summer long. This plant is tough and drought-tolerant.
This dwarf, non-fruiting olive cultivar is an evergreen tree reaching 4 to 6 feet high and wide. It has attractive dark green leaves.
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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