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This spreading shrub from tropical and subtropical regions can reach 6 feet tall. It is grown as a houseplant or as an annual outdoors where it's not hardy. Its oval leaves are splashed with red, green, and yellow and its long, fuzzy flowers are borne periodically throughout the year, although they are somewhat hidden. Acalypha wilkesiana 'Tricolor' can be grown in a warm greenhouse, in a border, or as a specimen or hedging plant (especially in warm areas).
This plant has lobed, densely hairy, chartreuse foliage that is crimped at the edges. Soft, frothy, yellow-green foliage hovers above the plant from early summer through autumn.
This hardy annual has vibrant, ornamental red, yellow, and green foliage that lends a tropical effect to the garden. Small flowers, borne from summer to early autumn, are inconspicuous in comparison to the effect of the foliage. Cultivars feature yellow and maroon-shaded leaves, but the species still offers the showiest foliage.
Angelica is a striking ornamental biennial or short-lived perennial with jade green, glossy, bold leaves and large umbels of white flowers. It makes a unique statement in the garden.
A favorite of children, Jack-in-the-pulpit is a tuberous perennial producing one or two leaves, each divided into three narrow leaflets. But it's best known for its spring to early summer display of hooded, green spathes—Jack's pulpit—which are often striped with purple. Autumn brings clusters of densely packed, showy red berries.
Asparagus is a perennial vegetable whose edible shoots are harvested in spring. Male plants produce better crop yields because they do not flower or fruit. The foliage is garden worthy because of its tall size and masses of feathery, delicate texture. Female plants may self-seed abundantly. Plants do not like to be moved, so choose a permanent location. Foliage is useful in floral arrangements.
A tuberous-rooted perennial most often grown as an annual or a houseplant, 'White Queen' has large frosted-looking white leaves that have green margins and bright red veins that "bleed". A great plant for full shade, it can also be grown in sun if provided with consistently moist soil. Greenish-white flower spathes appear in spring and are followed by white berries, but the foliage is the main show. Its arrow-shaped leaves light up a dark spot and work well as bedding or in containers. It can also be grown as a houseplant and tubers can be overwintered indoors.
Cannas bear broad, smooth paddle-like leaves reminiscent of banana plants. The oversize leaves make it easy to create dramatic combinations with other, more finely textured plants. Each stout, fleshy stem is topped with attractive spires of brightly colored flowers. Cultivars vary widely in height, foliage, and bloom.
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.
Northern sea oats is a loosely tufted, clump-forming grass with lance-shaped, arching mid-green foliage that turns yellow in winter. Summer brings highly decorative oat-like panicles of flat, green flowerheads that shimmer and rustle in the wind, aging to bronze by late summer.
A spreading subshrub, Cornus canadensis has whorls of leathery mid-green leaves that turn purple in the winter. Green and white, sometimes pink-flushed flowers emerge in late spring and early summer, followed by clusters of scarlet berries.
A native of Korea and Japan, Kousa dogwood makes an excellent landscape tree and offers a long season of interest. Beginning in early summer, white bracts in sets of four (sometimes with pink tinges) surround tiny green flowers. These are followed by reddish fruit that resembles raspberries and attracts birds. Autumn color is a deep reddish purple. This species is resistant to dogwood anthracnose and has good cold hardiness. Grow as a specimen plant or in a woodland setting. It can be grown as a tree or large, multi-stemmed shrub.
This bushy shrub or small tree has generated many notable cultivars, all of which add great textural qualities to the landscape. It has 6-inch-long frothy plumes that appear after the flowers and give a long-lasting, smoky haze to branch tips. Its green leaves are smooth and rounded and produce brilliant fall color.
Of the maybe 10,000 named dahlias introduced in the 1800s—when dahlias ranked right up there with roses in popularity—only three survive. One of them is 'Kaiser Wilhelm', introduced in 1892. Its 3-inch flowers have neatly curled petals of soft custard-yellow brushed with burgundy, and a green button eye just like that of an old rose. The plant can grow to 5 feet.
This species boasts maroon-speckled stems and green flowers with maroon margins. The flowers occur on thick, solitary stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tightly-clung florets, which are crowned by tufts of green bracts. As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples.
This species boasts stems and undersides of leaves with maroon spotting, and white flowers tinged with maroon. The flowers form on 24-inch-long, thick stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tightly-clung florets, which are crowned by tufts of green bracts. As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples.
With velvety foliage that darkens to near black in full sun, 'Black Bird' euphorbia looks good in perennial borders and is especially striking in containers. Flowers open above bright, lime green bracts on red stems that form a compact vase shape. -Pat McKernan, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
This hybrid has petite green-and-cream variegated foliage with a hint of pink on the undersides. It produces chartreuse and apple green bicolored bracts on airy stems.
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.
These compact tufts of 8-inch-long powder-blue leaves are well suited for edging and naturalizing in the rock garden.
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
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
Building Better Borders
Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
PLANTING PLAN: A deer-resistant bed that shines in fall and winter
by Nancy Matthews
Q&A Economical edging for beds
by Kate Feely
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