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In late summer, this large, clump-forming species bears huge plumes of delicate pink flower clusters, which eventually fade to silver.
This large, clump-forming grass has linear leaves with central white stripes. In late summer it bears huge, purplish-bronze flower clusters, which eventually fade to silver. It resents high fertility and shows considerable drought tolerance.
This short-lived, tender perennial shrub native to the Canary Islands off the African coast sends up 6-foot white-furred stems cloaked with long, felted, arrow-shaped leaves and topped, summer to frost, with plumes of purplish violet flowers clasped by red-tipped calyxes. It grows up to 4 feet wide.
Valued for its flowers, foliage, and fruit, Black Beauty™ elderberry is a deciduous shrub that requires regular watering during its first few yearsbut will become more drought tolerant as it becomes established. Areas with moist soil are ideal. Black Beauty™ will grow 8 feet tall if left unpruned, but fairly severe pruning in the first year will keep the plant from looking leggy. Pruning will sacrifice the large pink flowers, but the plant will be much sturdier and have a better habit if you do. The flowers, which bloom in June, are large and have a lemony scent. The foliage is dark and finely cut. Elderberries are edible and can be used to make juice or jelly, if the birds don't get there first. -Teresa Smith, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #120
This choice specimen livens up the garden all season long with its stunning leaves of green splashed with gold. It bears flattened, creamy white flowers that mature into glossy black fruit. It grows more slowly than most elderberries. It makes an attractive specimen.
This vigorous cultivar has attractive dark green leaves with yellow margins that fade to white. In summer, it bears flattened clusters of creamy white flowers which mature in fall to glossy black fruit. Plants grow 10-20 feet tall and wide.
This choice specimen has a graceful habit with finely divided golden foliage that emerges as bronze. It is less susceptible to sun scorch than the other gold varieties. It bears creamy white flowers that mature into red fruits.
Little bluestem is a tidy, finely textured clumping grass with a blue-green summer color. Its silvery seed heads rise to a height of nearly 2 feet in late summer and are at their best when backlit in the morning or afternoon sun. In fall, the grass turns a rosy rust color that lasts all winter.
This cool-season grass begins the season with bright green blades. In late summer and early fall, it produces silvery inflorescences which complement its golden-hued autumn foliage and persist throughout the winter.
This shade-loving perennial produces plumes of creamy white blossoms in spring, followed by mottled yellowish-green berries that turn to deep red. The fragrant, ivory white blossoms occur on the ends of arching branches, distinguishing them from true Solomon's seal (Polygonatum). The plant grows to 3 feet high and 2 feet wide.
This spring bloomer produces bright chartreuse floral domes atop bract-like, rounded leaves that are pierced by the flower's stem. This plant's form and color contrast well with spring bulbs. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Let it regenerate itself by self-sowing. It is a biennial or short-lived perennial that makes an excellent cut flower and produces worthy combinations with neighboring shades of maroons and blues. Grow it in large, mixed borders, naturalistic plantings, and open woodlands.
The finely textured, green leaves of this slow-growing, clump-forming perennial turn golden yellow in autumn. It bears cloudy panicles of fragrant, pale-pink to tawny flowers 5 to 10 inches long in late summer, reaching 3 feet tall.
This evergreen species makes a handsome specimen with narrow, arching foliage that is streaked orange in summer and becomes orange-brown in winter. Its fine, pendent flower inflorescences open purplish-green in midsummer and have a misty quality.
This semi-evergreen species makes a stately, stand-alone specimen with narrow, arching foliage and shimmering gold panicles that reach 8 feet tall. The flowers open in June as silvery-purple and mature to shades of wheat.
No other grass exhibits quite the refinement of texture as this species. Its bright green foliage resembles delicate filaments that arise in elegant, vase-like clumps and spill outward like a soft fountain. All summer it bears a profusion of feathery panicles, which mature from foamy-green to blonde. It is native to the Americas.
This hybrid produces vivid deep purple-pink fruit from late summer on. It forms a thicket (which may be sheared) 3 to 5 feet high and wide.
This fragrant cultivar bears single rose-pink flowers in midseason, which often rebloom in late summer or autumn. It forms a shrub 6 feet high by 10 feet wide.
This beautiful specimen has tall, delicate stems punctuated by clusters of columbine-like, bluish gray leaves. In summer, it bears sprays of nodding lavender-pink or white flowers with pale yellow stamens that reach as high as 3 feet. Plants grow to 12 inches wide. Plant at the back of a border; it may require staking.
This hauntingly beautiful specimen has blue-green foliage along matte, purple-green, willowy stems. At 5 or more feet in height, it has a dramatic yet delicate garden presence. Its sprays of nodding lilac flowers have pale yellow stamens. Plant at the back of a border; it may require staking.
This native North American species has pale green heart-shaped leaves which develop bronze highlights in the autumn. In summer, it produces a profusion of starry white flowers on 4- to 12-inch spikes. It self-sows freely.
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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