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The finely textured, green leaves of this slow-growing, clump-forming perennial turn golden yellow in autumn. It bears cloudy panicles of fragrant, pale-pink to tawny flowers 5 to 10 inches long in late summer, reaching 3 feet tall.
Largely untried in the northern states, Wright's dropseed is a great new grass that is becoming a substitute in southern gardens for unwieldy pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana). Heat and drought tolerant, its gray-green foliage sports airy clouds of flowers atop tall stems in summer. This grass is good as a single specimen or in a group as a showy backdrop.
This mat-forming perennial has rosettes of furry, silvery-gray leaves to 4 inches long. In summer, it bears gray spikes tipped with tiny, pink-purple or violet flowers. This plant crowds out weeds. 'Silver Carpet' is a non-flowering cultivar. 'Big Ears' has 8- to 12-inch-long, grayish-white felted, mid-green leaves.
This new cultivar of a treasured favorite is as cute as a button. With leaves about the size of a dime, 'Silky Fleece' has the same great soft, silky texture and silver color as other lambs' ears, just in a smaller package, growing to about 10 inches tall and wide. Lilac-plum flower spikes rise above the foliage from mid- to late summer. Grow it as edging, in containers, or in rock gardens.
This pest-free perennial blooms best during warm months. It is strange how these small blue flowers attract butterflies more than large-blooming, showy neighbors. Blue porter weed gradually reseeds nearby for a fresh batch of new plants. Mix with other species of Stachytarpheta for a variety of leaf shapes and colors ranging from purple to coral.
This decidous, thicket-forming shrub has attractive wavy-margined leaves that resemble maple leaves and have good orange-yellow fall color. Cutleaf stephanandra grows to less than 2 feet tall but spreads by suckering. Flowers are unremarkable at a distance, but attractive close-up. In winter, the rich brown, arching shoots draw the eye.
This evergreen species makes a handsome specimen with narrow, arching foliage that is streaked orange in summer and becomes orange-brown in winter. Its fine, pendent flower inflorescences open purplish-green in midsummer and have a misty quality.
This semi-evergreen species makes a stately, stand-alone specimen with narrow, arching foliage and shimmering gold panicles that reach 8 feet tall. The flowers open in June as silvery-purple and mature to shades of wheat.
No other grass exhibits quite the refinement of texture as this species. Its bright green foliage resembles delicate filaments that arise in elegant, vase-like clumps and spill outward like a soft fountain. All summer it bears a profusion of feathery panicles, which mature from foamy-green to blonde. It is native to the Americas.
This plant grows exuberantly and fills out within a season, yet reaches only 18 to 20 inches tall. It bears terminal, cornflower-like, 2- to 3-inch-wide blue flowers held on strong stems. Plants do not splay open in the middle or fall over like the species does.
A soft-stemmed shrub grown for its extraordinary foliage, Persian shield has thick, quilted purple leaves to 6 inches long splashed with iridescent pewter or silver. In autumn, it bears delicate funnel-shaped violet flowers in an eye-catching spike formation.
Celandine poppy is an eastern U.S. native wildflower with attractive leaves and flowers. It prefers moist, shady areas and will naturalize in a site it likes. Leaves are bluish green, deeply cut, and lobed. Summer brings bright yellow, poppy flowers in small clusters. Use in a woodland, border, or rock garden. It may become weedy.
Chenault coralberry is an undemanding workhorse. This 2-foot-tall shrub spreads about 10 feet without causing any trouble. It does an excellent job of covering ground and smothering weeds while eliminating erosion. In late summer, small pink flowers appear and are followed by rosy red fruit.
This prolific cultivar has dark green foliage and bears nodding blue flowers from mauve buds. It grows to a compact height of 18 inches tall. It may become invasive and difficult to eradicate once established.
This notably beautiful plant produces huge, elongated banana-shaped leaves, which are arfully edged in luminescent yellow. The rosette sits at 18 inches tall, and in early summer the plant bears clusters of mauve-pink bells atop stems that are 4 to 5 feet tall.
From the Fairytail series of dwarf lilacs, this petite cultivar bears single, light pink flowers in mid- to late season. It has a rounded, compact habit, 6 feet high by 5 feet wide. It shows good resistance to powdery mildew.
This fragrant hybrid (S. persica × S. vulgaris) has slightly nodding, 6-inch-long clusters of lilac-purple flowers. It forms a spreading shrub, 15 feet tall and wide.
This fragrant hybrid (S. persica × S. vulgaris) produces slightly nodding light-purple flower clusters to 6 inches long in midseason. It forms a spreading shrub, 12 feet tall and wide, and shows good disease resistance.
This early flowering hybrid produces fragrant, single white flowers. It forms a shrub 8 feet high by 10 feet wide, and exhibits autumn coloring. This hybrid and its offspring show some disease resistance.
This graceful hybrid produces fragrant, pale lilac flower clusters up to 4 inches long in late spring. The difference this lilac offers is its airy, finely textured foliage. It forms a spreading shrub 6 feet to 8 feet tall and wide.
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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When starting a bed, choose the method that suits you best
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