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Prostrate to mound-forming, vigorous evergreen shrubs have oval, toothed, dark green leaves. Cultivars vary in foliage color and variegation, form, climbing or creeping habit, and fall interest.
This hybrid produces masses of pure white bracts above finely textured, apple green foliage. It adds stunning texture and color to a border in partial shade.
This upright, evergreen shrub has stunning texture and form. Its gray-green leaves and woolly, purple-tinged stems form billowy, 4-foot long branches. From early spring to early summer, it produces giant cylindrical bract clusters in yellow-green with purple-black nectar glands, and creates a specimen that looks otherworldly.
This unusual looking plant has many succulent, pencil-like branches. The leaves are small and short-lived, and the flowers are insignificant. Euphorbia tirucalli can grow to almost 30 feet in the wild, but it can be used as a smaller specimen or container plant in the garden. It is hardy only in Zone 11.
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.
Large, paddle-shaped leaves with prominent veins make this tree a standout in containers outdoors or as a houseplant. Native to topical regions of western and central Africa, fiddle-leaf fig has leathery, glossy, evergreen leaves and round fruit. In the wild, it can reach 100 feet tall and almost as wide, but its size is easily controlled in containers. It was a popular houseplant in the 1950s and 60s.
The giant snowdrop has larger flowers and broader leaves than the more common G. nivalis, but grows to the same 4 inches tall and wide. Its white, nodding blooms appear in late winter, signalling spring around the corner.
Snowdrops are some of the earliest bulbs, and flowers in general, to bloom in spring. Galanthus nivalis is the most common species, and its cultivars are the most commonly grown snowdrops on the market. They are reliably hardy and perennial. They grow to 4 inches tall and wide and flower in mid- to late winter, long before most other plants. They are the first sign of spring around the corner. Flowers are nodding and white.
This gardenia cultivar features a very tight, upright form that is perfect for smaller gardens. It also boasts increased cold tolerance while maintaining the lustrous dark green foliage and abundant fragrant blooms you’ve come to expect from this genus.
This creeping, rhizomatous shrublet grows to 6 inches, with scalloped or bristly toothed, glossy, dark green leaves. Foliage has a strong wintergreen scent when crushed. Urn-shaped white or pale pink flowers appear in summer and mature to aromatic scarlet fruit that often persists into the following spring.
This prairie native bears nodding, pinkish-maroon flowers in spring, followed by seed heads that resemble wisps of cotton candy and connote the plant's common name. The upright, ferny foliage is beautiful, and can be evergreen in mild climates.
One of the oldest tree species on the planet, ginkgo grows only about a foot a year, reaching 50 to 80 feet. Female trees set fleshy fruit that smell unpleasant as they decay; they contain edible nuts.
This stunning shrub blooms all year in some climates. A fast grower, its large, moonlight-colored flowers and finely divided, gray foliage are a must for any southern-temperate garden. Frost and drought tolerant once established, it attracts bees and hummingbirds and makes an excellent screening shrub.
Through the fall and into winter, pincushion hakea provides beautiful cut flowers for the holidays; the foliage and seedpods are also great for arrangements. You can prune it into a bushy shape or a slender, small tree. As a member of the Protea family, pincushion hakea does not like phosphorus fertilizer, and like most Australian plants, it prefers to be well mulched so that its specialized roots can extract nutrients from the mulch layer.
This vase-shaped, deciduous shrub, up to 12 feet tall and wide, has ascending branches and bright green leaves that turn yellow in autumn. It produces large yellow flowers in mid- and late winter on the bare branches. A cross between H. japonica and H. mollis.
There are few better winter displays than the blossoms of 'Pallida' witch hazel. Bright green leaves line its flaring branches in spring and summer. After a display of yellow fall color, the plant shows its distinctive branch structure. Around the end of December, clusters of buds begin to open into spidery, pale yellow flowers. These cover the branches until early March, giving off a rich, fruity perfume. This small tree or large shrub grows up to 12 feet tall and wide.
This witch hazel is an upright shrub up to 12 feet tall and wide, with oval, softly hairy, mid-green leaves that turn yellow in autumn. Fragrant flowers are yellow, with crimped petals, appearing on bare branches in mid- and late winter.
This vase-shaped deciduous shrub grows up to 12 feet tall and wide, with ascending branches and bright green leaves that turn yellow in autumn. Clusters of sulfur-yellow flowers appear in mid- and late winter.
The native common witch hazel is an understory plant that becomes leggy if it has to reach for light, but in the open, it develops into a graceful, spreading shrub about 20 feet tall. Its broad leaves turn a clear, bright yellow in the autumn. The abundance of pale yellow fall flowers that accompanies the foliage comes as a wonderful late-season surprise. The deceptively fragile-looking blossoms that appear near the end of October seem to keep winter at bay for weeks.
Year-round gray-green foliage persists through shade and snow and is fairly deer and rabbit resistant. Flowers appear in early spring with daffodils and tulips. This cultivar produces flowers that sit well above the foliage and point upward, which adds to its showiness.
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
How to Prune Conifers
These plants are unforgiving, so make the right cuts for the right reasons
by Bert Cregg
VIDEO Potting Soil Recipe for Woody Plants and Perennials
This long-lasting mixture is the perfect medium for long-term plants
by Rita Randolph
Q&A Growing in the wind
by Tim Boland
Spruce vs. fir vs. pine: How to tell them apart
by Steve Aitken
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