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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
Western sword ferns abound in the forests of the Northwestern U.S. They are robust, reliable, and virtually maintenance-free. They put up with difficult soil and manage to keep up appearances even in hot, dry weather. Their deep green, leathery fronds are attractive year-round.
A suckering deciduous shrub with a dense, rounded form, beach plum has dull green leaves that are pale green beneath. Single or double white flowers bloom in mid-spring, maturing to edible purple fruit.
'Schubert' choke cherry, with its vivid foliage and pyramidal form, makes a fine focal point. Ephemeral, light pink flowers are followed by abundant, dark red-purple fruit that birds love. (Don't plant it near patios or walks, as they'll quickly be covered by bird droppings.) If the tree you buy isn't grafted onto nonsuckering rootstock; otherwise, suckers could become problematic as the years go by. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
This short-lived shrub or small tree with feathery foliage is blanketed in late spring with fragrant, pea-shaped violet blooms with white wings. Though it is native to streamsides, scurf pea doesn't require extravagant watering and survives occasional drought. When the plants eventually die, they leave ample progeny and straight branches useful for garden stakes. Combine with azaleas and camellias, which bloom at the same time.
This eye-catching perennial has silver-plated leaves with speckled margins. Its blooms are among the largest of all lungworts, beginning as pink buds and opening in early spring to display platinum blue flowers.
This plant will eventually form a decent-sized mound that resembles a mountain of liquid silver. It's perfect in a woodland border and makes a great ground cover and container plant. In mild winters, its leaves may stay evergreen.
‘Bertram Anderson’ is an older cultivar of lungwort with excellent foliage. In early spring, pink buds open to bright blue flowers, then silver-spotted leaves unfurl for a season-long show. Lungworts can have mildew problems, but ‘Bertram Anderson’ is highly resistant. When you cut off the old foliage in late winter, wear gloves; the tiny hairs all over the leaves (which keep the deer away) can irritate your skin. -Irvin Etienne, Fine Gardening #147 (October 2012), page 72
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
Developed by the National Arboretum, 'Teton' pyracantha has a striking upright form, reaching 12 feet tall or more, and orange to golden yellow fruit. It is also resistant to fireblight and scab. Less hardy than some other cultivars, only to Zone 6.
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 bushy, deciduous, slow-growing shrub with finely textured, scalloped leaves, this plant grows to 12 feet tall and almost as wide. 'Asplenifolia' bears clusters of green flowers, followed by round red fruit that ripens to black in the fall. Grow in a shrub border or as hedging. All parts may cause severe discomfort if ingested.
This native azalea, winner of the 2007 Georgia Gold medal award, will thrive in heat and humidity, which is why it is a good choice for the South. Large, fragrant yellow blooms appear in early spring. Reportedly pest- and disease free, 'Admiral Semmes' is a progeny of Exbury hybrid R. 'Hotspur Yellow' and R. austrinum. -Allan Armitage, Plants to know and grow, Fine Gardening issue #119
Royal azalea has large, fragrant pink blooms in spring. This large-leaved azalea also has purple-hued foliage in spring, turning velvet green in summer, and finally fading to yellow in autumn.
This rhododendron from China is quite unlike most of the better known species planted in gardens today. Its leaves are small, oval and, when young, bronze. Dainty-looking, pink, bell-shaped flowers bloom in spring. Williams rhododendron reaches just 5 feet tall and almost as wide, making it a nice choice for beds and borders in a shady area.
Lemon-lime foliage, fuzzy stems, and intense fall color make this sumac cultivar a standout. It grows into an upright, rounded form about 6 feet tall and as wide. New growth emerges chartreuse. Fall brings leaves of yellow, scarlet, and orange. Flowers are yellowish green and followed, on female plants, by hairy, dark red fruit. This plant spreads by suckers and can be invasive. The species is native to North America.
In spring, this North American native shrub produces clove-scented, lemon-yellow flowers, which are followed by black edible fruits. It has attractive leaves, and grows 6 feet high and wide.
This is considered one of the best white flowering currants, bearing long-lasting, pendent racemes of pungently spicy, pure-white blooms. Its yellow autumn leaves fall to expose mahogany stems in winter, which later make a striking contrast to chartreuse flower buds in spring. It grows to about 10 feet high and wide.
This species has palmate, wrinkled leaves that extend to 2 feet wide. The veins and leaf stalks are reddish-brown and densely woolly. In midsummer, the 2-foot-long, upright flower spikes are made up of white or pink florets.
This species creates tropical drama with its large, toothed leaves and ivory-green, footlong flowers. It exhibits reddish-bronze color in autumn.
This showy rose produces a pastel cloud of small pink flowers with lighter centers. The blossoms are single and shallow-cupped; they occur in large, loose clusters. Blooms hold up better in partial shade. This rose grows from 4 to 6 feet tall and wide, blooming from spring to autumn.
Annuals Pep Up Perennial Borders
Use the flowers and foliage of annuals to spark summer’s show
by Elisabeth Sheldon
Experts Pick Their Favorite Plants
We asked 42 gardening experts from around the country to select their favorite plants. Now you can see the complete results of the survey.
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
Sweetly Scented Annuals
Pique your senses all season long with colorful, long-blooming beauties
by Danielle Ferguson
4 Ways to Design with Coleus
If you're having trouble finding the right plant for the right place, this versatile performer offers a multitude of options
by Ray Rogers
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