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Large, fuzzy, gray-green leaves distinguish 'Autumn Bride' from other cultivars of Heuchera villosa. Attractive white flowers bloom in midsummer. This heuchera tolerates full sun but prefers partial shade, especially in the afternoon. -Jane Hutson, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127
A hardy hibiscus, 'Kopper King' has leaves that are a coppery red on top and orange-red underneath. Large (10 to 12 inches across) ruffly white to pale pink flowers bloom from midsummer to mid-fall if you deadhead. 'Kopper King' dies back to the ground in autumn and is late to break dormancy in the spring. It should be interplanted with spring bulbs and overplanted with winter annuals; that way you'll get color year round without disturbing the hibiscus. -Pat McKernan, Regional Picks: Lower Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
This hardy, deciduous, vase-shaped, woody shrub blooms for several weeks beginning in midsummer. Cultivars include ‘Aphrodite’ (deep rose-pink flowers with a dark red eye), ‘Diana’ (large white flowers with wavy-margined petals), ‘Helene’ (white flowers with bases flushed reddish purple), and ‘Minerva' (low-branched with lavender flowers tinged with pink and dark red centers).
'Diana' has deep green foliage and large, pure white flowers that bloom from mid- to late summer. Unlike some other roses of Sharon, its flowers remain open at night. It requires little maintenance and, once established, will tolerate extreme heat, drought, and poor soil. -Judith Ireland, Regional Reports: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #122
This perennial bamboo has dense clumps of smooth, olive-green, hollow, glossy culms, stained purple at the nodes, and linear, blue-green leaves to 6 inches long.
Perfectly round, puckered, bright-gold leaves have a pattern resembling seersucker fabric. Pale-lavender flowers appear in early summer.
This large and vigorous mounding hosta reaches 20 to 24 inches tall and 36 to 42 inches wide. Heart-shaped, cupped, puckered, pale green leaves provide interesting and attractive texture. Bell-shaped, grayish white flowers are borne on 28-inch-long scapes from mid-July through early August.
'Blue Angel' makes a very large tiered mound of heavily textured blue leaves that can be as wide as 18 in. in diameter.
'Blue Shadows' is a medium-sized plant with coarse, deep blue, variegated leaves.
This upright selection reaches 24 inches tall and 44 to 48 inches wide. 'Fort Knox' has an elegant vase-shaped habit and radiant yellowish-gold leaves 10 inches long by 6 inches wide. Lavender flowers appear in midsummer.
Bold, large, shield-shaped leaves with a deep green center and creamy-white margins turn white with age. Funnel-shaped mauve flowers borne on leafy scapes 32 inches long appear in midsummer.
‘Halycon’ is a wonderful blue hosta that holds its strong leaf color all season. Its textured, blue-green leaves are thick enough to be slug resistant. Bell-shaped, pale lilac flowers are followed by seed heads that attract birds late in the season. 'Halcyon' grows fairly slowly. It can be used as either a ground cover or a specimen plant. -Jane Hutson, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127
A fast grower, 'Little Aurora' has cupped, puckered leaves and a metallic sheen, with soft-lavender flowers from late June into early July.
A robust, clump-forming perennial, 'Piedmont Gold' has prominently veined, wavy-margined, bright-gold leaves 10 inches long by 7 inches wide. It reaches an average height of 18 to 25 inches tall and 40 inches wide. White flowers on 26-inch stems appear in midsummer.
A botanical giant, 'Sum and Substance' averages 30 inches tall by 60 inches wide, sometimes more. Upright, heart-shaped, flat leaves have a glossy chartreuse hue that changes to gold when exposed to more light. Near-white lilac blooms borne on leaning scapes 36 inches long appear from late July through mid-August.
'Sun Power' is a clump-forming perennial with oval to heart-shaped, yellowish green leaves below funnel-shaped, pale-lavender to white flowers in midsummer.
A clump-forming perennial with flat-spreading, blue-colored leaves, Japanese rock hosta bears funnel-shaped white flowers, sometimes flushed with purple, on arching, leafy scapes 24 inches long.
'Elegans' is a large hosta with deep, smoky blue, slightly frosted heart-shaped foliage. Deep veins give the leaves a corrugated look. White flowers bloom in early spring. Though slugs love hostas, this one is usually spared. -Sue Whetten, Regional Picks: Rocky Mountains, Fine Gardening issue #127
This vigorous vine quickly reaches 20 feet tall and thrives on neglect. The greenish yellow, conelike flowers smell like beer. It can scramble along the ground or grow up screens and trellises.
This re-blooming mophead features inflorescences ranging 4-6 inches wide. Their color will be pink or blue depending on aluminum availability in soil. Compact habit with glossy dark green leaves.
Q&A Ground covers to avoid
by Nancy Ondra
Planting Ground Covers
Proper spacing and regular care are the best ways to create a lush, weed-free carpet
by Mary Hirshfeld
Flowering Ground Covers
To blanket an area small or large, these are the perennials to pick
by Nancy Ondra
Dividing a ground cover
by Liana Mackey
Plants for Pathways
These durable creeping perennials discourage weeds and soften the look of a walkway
by Marty Wingate
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