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Highbush blueberry provides four seasons of fanfare, starting with twisted, peeling stems in winter; profuse white or pink blossoms in spring; savory blue fruit in summer; and long-lasting foliage the color of a rich red wine in fall. The maroon to scarlet fall shades are effective for a solid month or more, as the leaves (especially in full sun) are reluctant to fall. The best fruit set occurs when you plant at least two cultivars that will bloom concurrently to ensure cross-pollination.
This dwarf mullein is just 15 inches tall but it packs a big floral punch. In early spring, violet-purple flowers with dark purple anthers emerge unfazed by late frosts and continue into the summer.
This is one of the few truly perennial species of mullein. Pale yellow blossoms with purple filaments bloom profusely on long flower stalks in mid- and late summer, reaching about 3 feet high. Individual flowers are short-lived but numerous, and flowering takes place over a long time. Verbascum chaixii's glossy, dark green rosettes are semi-evergreen.
This biennial or short-lived perennial species is one of the earliest mulleins to bloom. Its showy blossoms of dark-purple, violet, pink, or white open along slender 3-foot spires for about two weeks in early summer. Its shiny dark green leaves are ground-hugging and evergreen. It has naturalized in some regions of the U.S.
This low-growing perennial produces long-lasting light pink blossoms with dark pink centers. It is an heirloom cultivar of the native species. Verbenas are excellent for annual borders, containers—especially hanging baskets—and some for the mixed herbaceous border.
This outstanding hybrid blooms from spring until frost and has beautifully dissected foliage. Innumerable clusters of purple blossoms cover this plant and look fantastic cascading over the edges of a hanging basket. Verbenas are excellent for annual borders, containers—especially hanging baskets—and for the mixed herbaceous border.
This dense, mat-forming species has 3-inch-tall evergreen foliage with toothed gray leaves. Its saucer-shaped flowers are deep blue with white eyes, and they bloom from early spring to summer. It is drought tolerant and makes a good groundcover. In garden sites, it needs protection from winter moisture.
'Georgia Blue' forms beautiful mats of purple-tinged leaves. In spring, this free-flowering groundcover boasts abundant iridescent blue flowers. It grows to about 9 inches high and a foot wide. It is a vigorous and easy-to-grow cultivar.
Like other creeping myrtles, 'Illumination' is a tough evergreen ground cover for shade that will grow in almost any soil. Its hallmark is its bright gold leaves that are edged with a border of irregular green. Periwinkle-blue flowers appear in spring. Use 'Illumination' as a shade ground cover or in hanging baskets. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
Creeping myrtle is a fast-spreading, 4- to 8-inch-tall, evergreen groundcover with shiny green leaves borne in pairs on long, arching stems. Star-like, 1-inch-wide blue flowers bloom for one month in spring. Cultivars include 'Bowles,' which blooms sporadically throughout the growing season, and variegated vinca, with creamy white-and-green leaves.
A hardworking, compact perennial, ‘Etain’ violet forms well-behaved clumps and blooms from time to time from spring through fall. The attractive, fleshy, bright green foliage needs protection from slugs. -Sylvia Matlock, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
This dramatic architectural plant is one of the most beautiful variegated yuccas on the market. Its sword-shaped leaves bear bold central stripes of bright canary-yellow against a rich celadon edge. In cool weather, margins are tinged pink, and the entire yellow stripe turns rose-colored on many of the leaves, lasting through early spring. Plants grow to 2 feet wide and nearly as tall. Branched clusters of nodding, creamy-white bells open in mid-summer on stout stems that reach 6 feet tall.
This easy to grow evergreen yucca bears dramatic, sword-shaped yellow leaves with a dark green edge. Not as staunchly upright as some yuccas, its leaf tips sometimes droop with age. Its foliage color is best from fall to spring. Plants grow to nearly 2 feet in height and 3 feet in width. In summer, it produces a 6-foot-tall spike covered with nodding, fragrant, white bell-shaped flowers.
This clumping evergreen shrub with narrow leaves produces a startling, 3- to 4-foot-tall flower stalk. The fragrant flowers are pale green or greenish white. It is a tenacious weed in areas of the American West, but adds a touch of the desert to gardens. Soap can be made from its roots and the foliage is used in basket-making.
This sculptural plant bears sword-like leaves to 24 inches long in shades of blue- or gray-green and maturing to dark green, with smooth margins. In summer, the plant produces 8-foot spikes of nodding, bell-shaped, fragrant white flowers, sometimes tinged purple, to 2 inches long.
This heat-loving native Southwestern species has gray-green leaves and grows to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Orangey red, tubular blossoms cover the plant in late summer and early fall.
These Mexican native bulbs actually offer demanding gardeners flowers on demand. They produce strappy foliage to 12 inches tall and clusters of buttery-yellow, starry, crocus-like blossoms two to three days after every rain in summer and early autumn. Or, if it doesn't rain, simply water and fertilize three days prior to your intended display, and the moisture will prompt the flowers to appear, hence the common name, rainflower. These bulbs are widely adaptable to diverse soil conditions, and may be grown in full sun to partial shade, but they prefer some shade.
This upright, 30-inch-tall, bushy annual cloaks itself all summer in purple blossoms up to 2 inches across. But more important, it is the forebear of scores of varieties that can be found in almost any place you can buy seeds. There's the Whirligig Series, the California Giants, the Profusion Series, the State Fair Series—the list goes on and on.
This annual series is comprised of dwarf, compact plants, 10 to 12 inches tall and half as wide. They bloom all summer with fully double blossoms, to 4 inches wide, in apricot, ivory, red, yellow, pink, and many shades in between.
This native perennial wildflower of the American Southwest bears a profusion of bright yellow to golden yellow flowers atop 4-inch high plants that spread to 15 inches wide. They bloom from late summer into fall.
10 Outstanding Succulents
Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
Potted plants keep flower beds looking their best
Potting Soil Recipes
Cook up your own container mix that is suited to your plants
by Daryl Beyers
Potting Soil Ingredients
Here's a breakdown on some common container soil ingredients
by Daryl Beyers
VIDEO Potting Soil Recipe for Cacti and Succulents
Perfect drainage makes this recipe succeed
by Jeff Moore
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