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From spring to summer, this annual produces multiple flower spikes with tiny flowers enclosed in showy bracts in shades of white, pink, or purple and marked with darker veins. Plants grow 18-20 inches tall and about half as wide. They are especially dramatic in large groupings. Salvia viridis is excellent as a long-lasting cut or dried flower.
A familiar native shrub, American elderberry is commonly seen along streambanks and roadsides and in moist woodlands and thickets throughout eastern North America. It has pinnate leaves with toothed leaflets and small white flowers borne in large flattened clusters in summer. Purple-black, round fruit comes next, attracting wildlife to the garden. Elderberries typically grow to about 12 feet high, but they tolerate pruning to a smaller size. Fruit is edible when cooked.
Black elder forms an upright and bushy, but somewhat coarse, shrub with toothed green leaves. It bears scented, flattened clusters of white flowers in early summer, which mature into glossy black fruit. It has given rise to many cultivars with notable foliage. Sambucus is a good choice for a quick growing shrub and is suitable for mixed or shrub borders or for naturalizing in wild areas. Birds love the fruits of this genus, which have culinary attributes when cooked, but can cause illness if eaten raw, or if the poisonous seeds are consumed. Contact with leaves may irritate skin.
Valued for its flowers, foliage, and fruit, Black Beauty™ elderberry is a deciduous shrub that requires regular watering during its first few yearsbut will become more drought tolerant as it becomes established. Areas with moist soil are ideal. Black Beauty™ will grow 8 feet tall if left unpruned, but fairly severe pruning in the first year will keep the plant from looking leggy. Pruning will sacrifice the large pink flowers, but the plant will be much sturdier and have a better habit if you do. The flowers, which bloom in June, are large and have a lemony scent. The foliage is dark and finely cut. Elderberries are edible and can be used to make juice or jelly, if the birds don't get there first. -Teresa Smith, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #120
This choice specimen livens up the garden all season long with its stunning leaves of green splashed with gold. It bears flattened, creamy white flowers that mature into glossy black fruit. It grows more slowly than most elderberries. It makes an attractive specimen.
This vigorous cultivar has attractive dark green leaves with yellow margins that fade to white. In summer, it bears flattened clusters of creamy white flowers which mature in fall to glossy black fruit. Plants grow 10-20 feet tall and wide.
This choice specimen has a graceful habit with finely divided golden foliage that emerges as bronze. It is less susceptible to sun scorch than the other gold varieties. It bears creamy white flowers that mature into red fruits.
A bushy shrub from Eduador and Peru with sturdy, bright green or purple stems and large, dark green leaves displaying light-colored ribs and veins. Tubular yellow flowers are borne in terminal spikes in summer. Grow in a greenhouse or as a summer annual outdoors.
This fine-textured, mound-forming shrub has gray foliage and yellow, button-like flowerheads formed by tubular flowers appearing in summer.
Virtually covered in yellow, daisy-type flowers throughout summer, creeping zinnia makes a cheerful addition to any garden. Plants are mat-forming with bright green foliage. Easy to grow and tolerant of heat and drought, creeping zinnia is a generous bloomer that doesn’t need deadheading. It makes a wonderful ground cover and looks great planted among rocks or along pathways. It’s an excellent filler and spiller for containers, and it combines nicely with just about any summer-blooming plant
Saruma henryi is as sublime as it is uncommon. Its velvety leaves and distinctively shaped, soft yellow flowers make it a superb specimen in a shady border, where it can contrast with more finely textured plants.
This dwarf bamboo has deep-green leaves that become bicolored with the onset of autumn. The leaves then exhibit straw-colored margins, which persist into spring in warmer zones. It is a striking plant en masse or as groundcover in a woodland garden. It usually grows to 2 or 3 feet tall, but may reach 5 feet tall in deep shade.
This plant is a rosette-forming evergreen perennial with kidney-shaped to rounded leaves. It produces white flowers with red or yellow spots in summer.
This Scabiosa cultivar is a compact perennial with gray-green leaves and a long bloom period featuring pretty lavender-blue flowers that look like pincushions surrounded by frilly petals. It's nice when used as edging or in large groups in borders or rock gardens.
This heat and drought tolerant plant is an evergreen perennial, often grown as an annual. It has spoon-shaped leaves and fan-shaped bluish flowers.
Little bluestem is a tidy, finely textured clumping grass with a blue-green summer color. Its silvery seed heads rise to a height of nearly 2 feet in late summer and are at their best when backlit in the morning or afternoon sun. In fall, the grass turns a rosy rust color that lasts all winter.
This glorious conifer constitutes the sole member of both its genus and plant family. It is without a peer in its beauty; on a mature specimen, its rich needles compose a sculpture of form, texture, and color that is unrivaled. The foliage develops a bronzy tint in winter. While it often grows to 30 feet in cultivation and 90 feet in the wild, its slow-growing nature inspires patience.
'Postman's Pride' sedum is a wonderful dark-foliaged plant for sunny, dry locations. It has a semi-upright habit and produces masses of red to purple flowers from late summer through fall. The flowers attract honeybees and butterflies. Like other sedums, 'Postman's Pride' is useful in rock and xeriscape gardens because, once established, it thrives without irrigation except during severe droughts. Curious about the cultivar name? This plant was discovered by a Belgian postal carrier in his garden. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
This plant is as dependable and adaptable as they come. Its flowers bloom from August into November; they open pink and mature to a copper befitting of autumn. It is 2 feet tall and wide, with succulent stems and leaves. 'Autumn Joy' looks great with ornamental grasses.
In summer to late summer, this low-growing Sedum has rosy-red flowers atop small, fleshy blue-green leaves with ruddy highlights. Plants grow 8-12 inches tall and 18 inches wide.
Heirloom dahlias, gladioli, and cannas offer flower colors and forms unmatched by more recent introductions
by Scott Kunst
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.
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
Sweetly Scented Annuals
Pique your senses all season long with colorful, long-blooming beauties
by Danielle Ferguson
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