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This spreading shrub is grown for its multi-colored, toothed, oval leaves. Use it as a houseplant or as an annual or container plant outdoors where it is not hardy. Flowers are small, green or pinkish, and generally not noteworthy.
Acanthus mollis is prized for its bold clumps of shiny green leaves topped with striking, 3-foot-tall spires of white flowers which are clasped by showy purple bracts. This is a great plant for an eye-catching structural element in a part-shade border.
This slow-growing dwarf conifer has a wide, rounded crown and narrowly furrowed, partially peeling bark. Needles, 1 to 1.5 inches long, are arranged on V-shaped ranks on each shoot.
'Sundance' Mexican orange blossom is an evergreen, compact shrub with white, fragrant flowers borne in late spring, and again in late summer and autumn. Groups of three little leaflets give the young yellow-green foliage a pleasing pattern, while the waxy, glossy texture adds a luminous quality.
This spreading ground cover flowers from fall into spring. Its tubular, dusky pink flowers attract hummingbirds, and its deep green leaves release a citrus scent when crushed. Tolerant of dry conditions, frost-hardy 'Dusky Bells' correa should be tip-pruned regularly to promote new growth and improve flowering. Healthy specimens can live up to 50 years or more.
Spreading, glossy, dark green fronds reach a length of 8 to 24 inches. This fern has holly-like pinnae and sori scattered over the underside of the pinnae.
This celebrated hybrid is notable for its green leaves with golden-yellow margins that fade to cream. Its deep-pink buds open to pale, pink-white blossoms in early spring and give off a sweet fragrance.
This evergreen species produces rose-purple buds that open to white and are intensely and exotically fragrant. The blooms (from mid-winter to early spring) are followed by red fruit and dark-green, glossy leaves.
This is a handsome and lush, semi-evergreen vase-shaped fern with thickly textured leaves that is suitable for specimen treatment. It reaches 3.5 feet tall. Grow in a woodland or moist shade garden.
A member of the conifer clan, Ephedra equisetina is commonly called bluestem joint fir due to its finely textured blue stems. In spring, it features a conspicuous froth of yellow blooms that are often followed by red berries. It is perfect for naturalized areas since it reliably spreads.
This upright, evergreen shrub has stunning texture and form. Its gray-green leaves and woolly, purple-tinged stems form billowy, 4-foot long branches. From early spring to early summer, it produces giant cylindrical bract clusters in yellow-green with purple-black nectar glands, and creates a specimen that looks otherworldly.
This gardenia cultivar features a very tight, upright form that is perfect for smaller gardens. It also boasts increased cold tolerance while maintaining the lustrous dark green foliage and abundant fragrant blooms you’ve come to expect from this genus.
This compact, bushy shrub has red shoots and ovate, pointed, glossy dark green leaves. Arching racemes of urn-shaped white flowers tinged with pink appear in late spring and early summer, maturing to fleshy, spherical, purple fruit measuring a half-inch across.
This spreading, low-growing shrub has attractive bluish-green foliage and unusual upturned branches that create the appearance of a miniature blue forest. The mature size is 10 inches tall, with a spread that can reach 4 feet wide.
This slow-growing weeping evergreen shrub has a low and wide form and oval, leathery, toothed dark green leaves. It makes a good substitute for boxwoods. Clusters of urn-shaped white flowers resembling heather appear from spring to early summer. Coast leucothoe is native to the eastern U.S. It thrives on slopes near water but not in water, on a dry slope without irrigation.
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.
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
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.
This dwarf, non-fruiting olive cultivar is an evergreen tree reaching 4 to 6 feet high and wide. It has attractive dark green leaves.
This species produces 2- to 5-foot-tall mounds of narrow green foliage and bottle brush-like silvery-pink to purple flowers, both of which mature to shades of brown. It is the parent of numerous cultivars with notable flowers that range from purple to gray/black. It and some of its cultivars self-sow plentifully in warm climates. It is marginally hardy in Zone 5.
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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