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There are many cultivars available of this fast-growing annual. They are best used as bedding, edging, or container plants. Panicles of blue, pink, purple, or white flowerheads arise from oval, downy leaves in midsummer and continue until frost. They have a soft, fuzzy appearance and attract butterflies.
This early, compact bloomer grows to only about 6 or 7 inches tall. With its icy blue-purple flowers, it works well when planted tightly along the foreground of a bed. Its color blends easily with most other hues and textures. -Julia Jones, Designing with annueals, Fine Gardening issue #120
This low-mounding perennial has lobed, silver-edged foliage and small yellow flowerheads in autumn.
About a third the size of the more well known A. mollis, A. alpina has delicate leaves edged in brilliant silver.
This is the last of the ornamental onions to flower, when mop-like heads of rose-purple flowers appear with orange anthers. The flowers are impervious to frost or snow. Superior cultivars include ‘Ozawa’, with larger purple flower heads than the species. A white-flowered form known as A. thunbergii ‘Alba’ is a splendid plant, with cup-shaped florets sporting white stamens, yellow anthers, and green centers.
The spine-tipped leaves of this aloe grow in a beautiful spiral; mature plants have five rows of leaves growing either clockwise or counterclockwise. It is very hardy, but will rarely flower. A native of Lesotho, Africa, it is extremely endangered due to overcollecting.
Chalk up another great plant introduction from the folks at Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina. This dwarf blue star grows to only about half the size of the species, making it well suited for gardens with limited space. It performs best in full to partial sun and is appreciative of moist, well-drained soil. The sky blue flowers appear in early spring above the clean, dark green foliage. Try planting 'Short Stack' in a mess and along bed edges for a winning display.
This plant produces a 12-inch-high, symmetrical mound of silver-green, silky-hairy leaves. They make this plant a nice counterpoint to very colorful plants.
A. italicum will add great color and diversity to the garden with their attractively marked leaves, which may be arrow- or spear-shaped. Leaves are veined with mid-green to white. In early summer, white spathes of flowers are followed by spikes of bright orange red berries.
This is a short-growing aster has creeping rootstocks and pink, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.
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 fern has cool, grey-green, almost silvery, foliage and reddish-purple stalks that are useful for brightening dark spots in borders. It is deciduous, and although it reaches only 8 to 12 inches in height, it is easy to grow, prolific, and easily divided.
The broad silvery leaves of ‘Ursula’s Red’ have a showy burgundy band at the center of the leaves in spring. This plant can double in size in a single growing season, as it spreads from rhizomes. Though deer do like it, it may simply grow more fronds and not show any lasting damage. --Michael Ruggiero, Regional Picks: Mid-Atlantic, Fine Gardening issue #127
'Golden Nugget' is a deciduous shrub with non-burning foliage. It is a slow grower (to only about 1 foot tall) and makes a good border plant, especially when planted with darker foliage plants or brightly colored flowers, or a groundcover. Grow in full sun for best color and berry production. It tolerates poor soils as long as drainage is good.The foliage has an orange cast for most of the season, which intensifies in the autumn.
This plant's leaves are large and bright green, with fine hairs, and grow to about 12 inches across. Small pink flowers emerge in spring, but it's the foliage that really shines.
'Hachita' has narrow, blue-green leaves that form dense mounds. In summer, elongated seedheads add visual interest. This tough, drought-tolerant grass thrives in sand or clay soil with full-sun exposure. It needs a setting with good drainage, as it won't thrive in wet conditions. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
This rose-and-cream Calibrachoa is one of a kind. The unique markings on the petals and the plant's mounding habit make it a standout in hanging baskets and containers.
Calibrachoa is a relatively new genus of flowering plants. The first cultivars weren't released until 1992. This cultivar's self-cleaning, petunia-like flowers are painted in a sunny mix of orange, red, and yellow. It is an easy-to-grow, trailing perennial, often used as an annual in hanging baskets, window boxes, and other containers.
Calibrachoas are great alternatives to petunias. Superbells® Dreamsicle is cloaked with larger-than-usual, yellow-throated apricot-orange flowers. It can create a carpet of color or cascade beautifully from a container.
Upright, open bell-shaped flowers completely cover the foliage of this late-blooming Campanula for several months in summer. This small plant is suitable for the front of the border or a rock garden. Numerous cultivars are available.
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
VIDEO Potting Soil Recipe for Cacti and Succulents
Perfect drainage makes this recipe succeed
by Jeff Moore
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
VIDEO A Collector's Paradise
Intuitive design turned a lifelong passion for succulents into a destination garden north of San Diego
by Patrick Anderson
PLANTING PLAN: A deer-resistant bed that shines in fall and winter
by Nancy Matthews
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