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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
Large palmate-leaved shrub with showy white 12-inch-tall blooms in summer, followed by smooth-skinned fruit. Leaves emerge bronze and turn yellow in autumn.
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.
Black foliage and spiky blue flowers (which appear in early summer) make a dramatic contrast. 'Black Scallop' thrives in full sun, which intensifies the black color. In full sun, the plant produces numerous runners, which should be thinned to prevent crown rot. In large plantings, you can run a rotary mower with a bagger attachment over the patch to control crowding and keep the foliage fresh. In mixed container plantings, the spilling habit of the plant makes it a standout choice. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
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.
Arkansas blue star's delicate, willow-like foliage is topped with pale blue star-shaped flowers in spring. The light green foliage looks good all summer, turns a beautiful golden-yellow in fall, and can stand through most of the winter, adding interest especially when mixed with grasses and other attractive seedheads. It grows to almost 3 feet tall and wide.
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.
Fragrant white flowers in spring, red fall foliage, and persistent berries for winter interest make Aronia a valuable plant in all seasons.
This is an erect shrub with lustrous dark green leaves that turn scarlet in autumn. It produces numerous white flowers tinged with pink, and abundant showy red berries that persist into winter (birds dislike the taste).
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.
A. italicum will add great color and diversity to the garden with their attractively marked leaves, which may be arrow- or spear-shaped. Leaves are veined with mid-green to white. In early summer, white spathes of flowers are followed by spikes of bright orange red berries.
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
Here's a fern with an upright habit and silvery fronds that give it a ghostly look, hence the name. Emerging new fronds have a shimmering whitish color that darkens slowly to a silvery green with burgundy accents. 'Ghost' spreads slowly by shallow rhizomes, eventuallly becoming an excellent ground cover. -Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
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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