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This is a high-drama native. Its gracious, high-impact, powdery-white shrubby mounded foliage grows to 4 feet tall.
This is a dwarf astilbe with attractive red-green leaves and reddish pink flowers in broad, dense conical groups. Its blooms appear mostly in summer.
This unique species bears large, rounded leaves that resemble lily pads and seem to defy gravity.
Each of this plant's stunning lance-shaped leaves is the softest gray-green, edged subtly with a cream-colored pinstripe. These luminous 5-foot-tall plants are crowned with spires of delicate pink flowers with just a blush of salmon.
This vigorous 5- to 6-foot plant sports fascinating foliage colors. Spring leaves emerge an intense purple and are soon striped with green, yellow, pink, and red. Vivid orange flowers appear in summer on this quick multiplier.
Tropicanna Gold is perhaps the showiest of all of the variegated cannas and one of the best for hot, humid, sunny southern gardens. Favored for its bright green and yellow variegated foliage and deep tangerine flowers, Tropicanna Gold will grow at the edge of ponds in shallow water as well as in normal garden conditions. It is adaptable to heat and humidity. Protect in the northern part of its range, or lift tubers in fall where not hardy and store over winter.
This sedge's pearly, straplike leaves resemble striped ribbon waiting to be wrapped around a package. It sports fuzzy green flowers with green stamens in late spring. Grow as an edging or groundcover.
From May to October, this perennial bears bright yellow, daisylike flowers on leafy stalks. It spreads by rooting runners to form an attractive groundcover that is easily controlled. This variety differs from the species in its more prostrate form and its more rapid spread.
Very fragrant, light pink bottlebrush flowers grace this native shrub in late summer and early fall, attracting butterflies and other insects and perfuming the garden for weeks. Plant it in beds or borders, in a woodland or shade garden, or at waterside. It also has nice fall color.
This summersweet is a sport of C. alnifolia 'Pink Spires'. Its fragrant, bottlebrush flowers are a darker pink; they attract butterflies, bees, and other insects in late summer and early fall. 'Ruby Spice' grows to about 4 to 6 feet tall and almost as wide, making this shrub suitable for a bed or border, a woodland or shade garden, or a waterside planting. Its yellow fall color extends the season of interest.
A large, showy, marginal aquatic plant with heart-shaped, dark green leaves, taro can reach 5 feet tall and is often grown as a summer annual. Use it in a container or near water.
Rising to about 36 inches, the elephant ear's deep-purple stalks suspend luxurious leaves of the same color. When the leaves’ undersides are dusted with chalky-looking bloom, they have an intriguing, almost gray look. This plant does well in a bog or even in the margins of a water garden, as well as in average garden soil.
The heart-shaped leaves of 'Illustris' are huge, and their dark highlights are stunning. This elephant ear is a lover of moist shade, but does best with a little dappled sunlight. It will tolerate boggy conditions. -Julia Jones, Fine Gardening issue #120
The bicolored, white-tipped and raspberry-centered blooms are large (1 to 1.5 inches across) and long lasting. Flowers cover the mound of grassy foliage for weeks in summer and early fall. This hybrid does not produce seed.
This compact, low-growing, and self-rooting deciduous shrub is useful as an underplanting or ground cover. Its shiny dense foliage turns a brilliant red in the fall and requires little or no pruning.
Cardoon is an architectural splendor with bold texture, thanks to its large, prickly, almost dagger-shaped gray-green arching leaves and a statuesque, vase-shaped frame. It is topped with round, purple, thistlelike flowers in midsummer. Cardoon can reach up to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
This cultivar of the eastern North American native Joe Pye weed is shorter and bushier than the species. From late summer into fall, its domes of dusky pink flowers attract butterflies and other insects. The seedheads persist well into winter. Grow 'Gateway' in a border, meadow, or cottage garden. It does best in soil that does not dry out.
Regarded by some as the bluest blue fescue, this plant forms compact, cascading mounds of foot-tall, intensely blue, narrow leaves that are attractive in all seasons. Blooms are generally secondary to the foliage, but this cultivar blooms more heavily than most, with spikelets in summer. This cultivar is long-lived and very hardy. Grow in groups in a border or rock garden, or as a groundcover.
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 mound-forming shrub has white leaf margins and blue or pink lacecap inflorescences.
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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