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This broadly columnar to spreading tree has peeling brown bark, three-palmate mid-green leaves, and brilliant orange-red fall foliage. It grows up to 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide.
True to its name, sunset hyssop encapsulates a Western sunset in its flowers: bronze with hints of orange and yellow, and streaks of magenta and pink along the margins. More and more flowers emerge as summer progresses. The plant blooms heavily in August, and continues into autumn.
This plant has lobed, densely hairy, chartreuse foliage that is crimped at the edges. Soft, frothy, yellow-green foliage hovers above the plant from early summer through autumn.
This hardy annual has vibrant, ornamental red, yellow, and green foliage that lends a tropical effect to the garden. Small flowers, borne from summer to early autumn, are inconspicuous in comparison to the effect of the foliage. Cultivars feature yellow and maroon-shaded leaves, but the species still offers the showiest foliage.
'Pawnee' has an upright habit and warm fall colors that persist into winter. This refined offbig bluestem has the bluish purple stems typical of the genus. In late summer, Purplish red flowers appear in groups of three or six, which look like a turkey foot—hence the nickname: "Turkey Foot Grass." The root system that can extend down more than 10 feet. Each year, a third of these roots die, opening up channels for water. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
The outside of the spathe is the color of dark chocolate, and the inside, milk white and as smooth as marble. Its hood sweeps up to an arrogant point, exposing its sumptuous white lining and the thick blunt spadix, which is also milk white. This plant produces two leaves per tuber, one leaf with three lobes and one with five. Sometimes they are mottled with silver, which makes them very handsome, at least until the plant goes dormant in summer.
A favorite of children, Jack-in-the-pulpit is a tuberous perennial producing one or two leaves, each divided into three narrow leaflets. But it's best known for its spring to early summer display of hooded, green spathes—Jack's pulpit—which are often striped with purple. Autumn brings clusters of densely packed, showy red berries.
The rounded, lustrous leaves of this native plant form an appealing green ground cover. This plant produces beautiful, 2- to 4-inch, glossy green heart-shaped leaves. In spring, you'll find interesting, mauve-purple flowers hidden under its foliage. -Marty Hair, Regional Picks: Upper Midwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
European wild ginger is a low-growing groundcover with glossy, evergreen, heart-shaped leaves. Its unusual purple-brown flowers lie mostly concealed beneath foliage.
This wild ginger is an evergreen groundcover with heart-shaped, shiny leaves that are often marbled. Its interesting brown-purple flowers hide beneath the foliage.
This is a slow-growing ginger, but worth the wait. Its round evergreen green leaves have a prominent silver-white mottling.
Growing to less than 2 feet tall and wide, 'Purple Dome' covers itself with semi-double, deep purple, daisy-like flowers from late summer to midfall. In addition to being mildew resistant, it attracts butterflies. It's great as a border specimin and as a cut flower.
Aucuba are grown for their bold foliage, autumn fruit, and adaptability to shade, dry soil, pollution, and coastal conditions. A. japonica is a rounded, evergreen shrub with small, reddish purple flowers in spring, and red berries (on female plants) in fall. It grows to about 10 feet tall and wide. 'Crotonifolia' has leaves that look like they were speckled with yellow paint. 'Gold Dust' is female with heavy yellow speckling. 'Mr. Goldstrike' is male, more upright, and has gold-splashed leaves. Use as a hedge or specimen, in a container outdoors, or as an imposing houseplant.
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
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.
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.
Although it produces small, lavender-pink flowers in spring, this plant is known mainly for its violet to magenta berries, which start appearing in October. The berries, massed in tight bunches that encircle the branches, are vivid against deep-green leaves.
This plant resembles a rosy-purple poppy mallow that blooms all summer. The saucer-shaped flowers are held above prostrate red stems and fingered leaves.
Spikes of violet, star-shaped flowers top stems reaching from 2 to 4 feet in late spring. The species is native to western Oregon. 'Blue Danube' would be beautiful in a border, meadow, or containers. Camassia make good cut flowers.
Diminutive (to 2 inches tall) spikes bear lavender-blue nodding flowers that sway in the breeze.
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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