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The 'Caddo' maple typically reaches a mature height of 30 feet and spread of 25 feet, but may be taller. Its star-shaped leaves turn under slightly at the edges, and turn muted yellow to orange in the fall that can be spectacular. Its crown is oval-shaped, with an upright/erect growth habit. This moderately drought-tolerant maple is a great street or shade tree.
'Caddo' maples, native to southwestern Oklahoma, are well-adapted to heat and drought, and resistant to leaf tatter and scortch common among many maples. The leaves are dark green, leathery, and deeply lobed.
Compact and rounded, the Shantung maple reaches a mature height and spread of 25 feet by 30 feet. The leaves grow to 5 inches long and have five to seven lobes, resembling the leaves of the Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). Leaves emerge purple in spring and become glossy and medium green during the growing season. In autumn, the starry leaves blaze into shades of yellow and orange, accented by reds and purples. Samara (fruit) are red.
The "flowers" of black rose. are actually rosettes of burgundy-black leaves at the ends of stalklike stems. In winter, bright yellow flowers contrast with the dark foliage. 'Zwartkop' is a wonderful backdrop plant that can show off many companion plants to maximum advantage. -Jeff Moore, Regional Picks: Southwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
Thick, succulent grayish green leaves tipped with spines make this 3-foot-tall and wide agave a striking addition to a xeric bed or desert garden. Although its color is muted, its architectural form can't be overlooked.
This plant has a dense rosette of fleshy blue-gray leaves and produces tall, cream-colored flowers tinged with red or pink in summer.
Aloe is best known as a medicinal plant (Aloe vera, Zones 10-11), but there are many beautiful aloes as well. Most have amazing winter flowers, and some, have interesting foliage color. Red aloe has color that varies from green to a deep, red wine hue, depending on sun and water. and, over time, will form beautiful red-purple mounds with orange flowers. It is easily propagated from cuttings. -Jeff Moore, Regional Picks: Southwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
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.
This beautiful ornamental grass has upright, glossy green foliage and interesting, animated leaf tips that resemble party favors. Evergreen to 25°F, these plants gain reddish purple hues in the fall and winter. This plant is extremely adaptable—it thrives in desert and damp conditions, it is used for erosion control, and it works well in containers or as a screen. It looks especially beautiful when backlit by the sun.
Low-growing rosettes of long gray leaves covered in fine gray hairs and gray-white flowers in spring that resemble a cat's paw make Antennaria great plants for edging, pathways, or stone walls.
Usually this plant produces nodding blue and white flowers, but color variation is common in this species.
This is a woody plant with dense clumps of silver-gray leaves. It makes a great border accent.
This is a high-drama native. Its gracious, high-impact, powdery-white shrubby mounded foliage grows to 4 feet tall.
In late spring, lavender-pink flowers rise above this plant’s lacy, fernlike foliage, which forms an airy network beneath. The blooms appear a bit later than typical for other astilbes, and they extend later into summer. ‘Maggie Daley’ is moderately drought tolerant once established. Pair it with Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum, Zones 5–8) for a beautiful combination. And deer and rabbit resistance is the pièce de résistance! -Kielian DeWitt, Fine Gardening #147 (Octover 2012), page 76
This spectacular perennial hybrid has 18-inch-tall spires of buttery yellow flowers in late spring and beautiful blue-green foliage throughout summer. Tough, exceptionally drought tolerant, and extremely long-lived, it's the southern substitute for the much sought-after lupine. 'Carolina Moonlight' has an adaptable, easy-to-grow nature and makes a great companion for other rugged plants such as ornamental grasses.
This perennial produces milk chocolate-colored flowering buds that open in spring with golden yellow petals over blue-green foliage.
This amazing baptisia is a cross between B. australis, the most common blue variety, and B. sphaerocarpa, a plant with yellow bloomer. The result is pea-like violet-purple flowers with dramatic yellow keels. It is long-lived, tough, and drought resistant, but it may take three or four gardening seasons to establish itself. Twilite Prairieblues™ blooms in late spring or early summer, When not in bloom, the plant remains attractive because of the lovely blue-green color of its trifoliate leaves, especially in spring. This plant is tall and will look good at the back of a border. -Stephanie Cohen, Plants to know and grow, Fine Gardening issue #120
"Thorny but irresistible" best describes this low-maintenance, elfin barberry. Tiny leaves are smothered in coral-colored buds opening to bright yellow-orange spring flowers. These, in turn, produce silver-frosted, blue-black berries in fall. 'Corallina Compacta' is evergreen, tolerates most soil types, and is pest-free and drought tolerant once established.
Blue grama is a perennial grass from the Americas bearing unusually bent and flattened inflorescences. Being native to open grasslands, they are drought tolerant and at home in meadows. They provide the garden with shades of tan that persist throughout winter.
Versatile, attractive and care-free ornamental grass with wheat-like appearance. Slender, upright, deep-green, lustrous foliage becomes effective by early spring and lasts all the way until winter. A cool season grass, 'Karl Foester' is upright and clump forming, with purplish-green, feathery plumes to 6'. It distinctively blooms in early summer rather than fall and must have winter chill to bloom. Long lived -- 25 years or more. -Santa Rosa Gardens
This versatile ornamental grass has slender, upright, deep-green foliage. A cool season grass, it is upright and clump forming, with purplish-green, feathery plumes that can reach 6 feet in height. It blooms in early summer rather than fall and must have winter chill to bloom.
Information provided by Santa Rosa Gardens.
Experts Pick Their Favorite Plants
We asked 42 gardening experts from around the country to select their favorite plants. Now you can see the complete results of the survey.
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
Sweetly Scented Annuals
Pique your senses all season long with colorful, long-blooming beauties
by Danielle Ferguson
4 Ways to Design with Coleus
If you're having trouble finding the right plant for the right place, this versatile performer offers a multitude of options
by Ray Rogers
How to Prune Conifers
These plants are unforgiving, so make the right cuts for the right reasons
by Bert Cregg
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