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Sourwood, the lone species of the genus, is found in woodlands and along streams of eastern North America. This plant (named for the sour taste of its leaves) forms a pyramidal tree to 30 feet tall, with canoe-shaped, glossy leaves that turn vivid maroon, yellow, or purple in autumn. In late summer, its delicate panicles of fragrant, urn-shaped flowers spray forward, decorating the tree in white. The blossoms, which resemble lily-of-the-valley, are followed by yellowish seed capsules that turn brown and persist into winter. It makes an outstanding specimen both for a prominent position and also for a naturalized setting.
Large striking, dusty purple-black foliage contrasts spectacularly with bright-colored plants. Spreads freely in rich, wet soils; more slowly in dry, clay soil. Adds bold color and tropical flair to any garden. Herbaceous.
Rare, non-clumping form of Agave. Spineless blue-green leaves emerge vertically from a center rosette and arch gracefully to the outside of the plant. Rarely flowers. An interesting container or dry rock garden specimen. Combine with low perennials or other Cacti and Succulents. Evergreen.
Enormous, puckered leaves of this tropical, prehistoric plant emerge in spring, reaching six feet across or more, creating a dramatic waterside or greenhouse specimen. In late spring, a robust stalk bearing brownish-bronze inflorescence adds to the exotic appeal. Evergreen in frost-free areas.
Broadly rounded form to this medium size shrub. Its tiered horizontal branches magnificently display the large, flat flower clusters. Red fruit in fall is very ornamental. Deciduous.
Information provided by Monrovia.
A dramatic, drooping form makes this attractive conifer a special addition to any landscape. Use as a large specimen or accent. Pendant branchlets display icy-blue needles. Evergreen.
Like other Rex begonias, 'Fireworks' is noteworthy for the coloration of its foliage. Its silvery leaves are edged in purple and have a black burst of fireworks in the center. Use it in a container or shady garden, or grow it as a houseplant. - Rita Randolph, Rex begonias, Fine Gardening issue #120
Upright, low perennial with deep mauve to violet two-lipped flowers blooming all summer. Angelonia are superlative container plants, and can also be grown as bedding annuals.
This plant produces upright racemes of two-lipped flowers with spreading, rounded lobes in a vast arrray of warm colors. It flowers profusely summer through autumn.
One of the first plants to emerge, this 24-inch-tall bulb bears nodding white bells as early as mid-January. Blooms are faintly chocolate-scented; leaves are glossy, erect, and strap-shaped.
These Mexican native bulbs actually offer demanding gardeners flowers on demand. They produce strappy foliage to 12 inches tall and clusters of buttery-yellow, starry, crocus-like blossoms two to three days after every rain in summer and early autumn. Or, if it doesn't rain, simply water and fertilize three days prior to your intended display, and the moisture will prompt the flowers to appear, hence the common name, rainflower. These bulbs are widely adaptable to diverse soil conditions, and may be grown in full sun to partial shade, but they prefer some shade.
The most familiar calla, this 3-foot-tall and 2-foot-wide plant has large white flowers—up to 10 inches long—that surround a creamy yellow fingerlike centerpiece. They bloom from late spring to mid-summer. The upright, arrow-shaped leaves are solid green and glossy.
Reaching 20 to 24 inches tall, Tulipa 'Silverstream' has chartreuse and yellow flowers suffused with red-and-rose markings that create a watercolor effect. The foliage has distinct cream-colored edging. Grouping these in a garden with a pastel palette would have driven Monet viridian with envy.
The newly opened blossoms of N. ‘Intrigue’ (1970, Zones 3–9) are a soft chartreuse-yellow. As they mature, however, the flowers become a luminous white and attract a lot of attention, especially when planted with a blood-red tulip like ‘Hollandia’. When combined with another soft-colored flower, like Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Lady Derby’, it creates a peaceful scene. An American-bred jonquilla-type daffodil with several flowers per stem, ‘Intrigue’ also has a wonderful fragrance.
Grape hyacinths are hardy, easy to grow, and have long-lasting blooms--no garden should be without them. 'Saffier' is a good candidate for beds and borders because it increases only by division. Its strong, rigid flower stalks start celery-green and mature to robust medium-blue blossoms with distinct pale-green lips at the mouth of each floret. The constricted openings prevent access to pollinating insects, resulting in blooms that last a full month and making them excellent cut flowers.
Often used by florists, 'Star Gazer' lily has bright crimson flowers with purple spots and dark edges. These lilies grow to about 3 feet tall, so they generally don't need staking.
This bulb blooms in early summer with striking, sweetly-scented white and yellow flowers that appear on leafless stems up to 24 inches tall. Petals curve up to accent a daffodil-like cup, sometimes with green-striped tubes. Peruvian daffodil has long, strap-shaped, arching, dark green leaves.
A native of South Africa, summer hyacinth sends up spikes of lovely white flowers in late summer amidst dark green, strap-like foliage, when many other perennials are done blooming. The tall spikes are fragrant and especially dramatic planted with darker foliage or flowers.
This bulbous perennial has striking reddish purple, strap-like leaves and foot-long purple flowers that resemble pineapples in late summer. Grow in a sunny border, container, or greenhouse. Plants used outdoors may be overwintered in a frost-free location. The species is native to South Africa.
Dutch crocus is one of the hardiest, if not the hardiest, crocus species readily available to home gardeners. A true harbinger of spring, it can be planted in borders, rock gardens, and even lawns. After flowering, the foliage must be left intact until it withers, which may cause lawn-mower anxiety in some gardeners. Often sold as "mixed crocus," cultivars of this species are typically white, lilac, or purple and white striped.
Semi-erect, narrowly ovate leaves 7-10 inches long appear in spring and disappear by summer, followed by large, fully double, rosy lilac flowers resembling the blooms of a waterlily.
In summer, this plant bears large rounded flower heads up to 4 inches across with a multitude of star-shaped lilac-pink flowers.
This dramatic architectural plant is one of the most beautiful variegated yuccas on the market. Its sword-shaped leaves bear bold central stripes of bright canary-yellow against a rich celadon edge. In cool weather, margins are tinged pink, and the entire yellow stripe turns rose-colored on many of the leaves, lasting through early spring. Plants grow to 2 feet wide and nearly as tall. Branched clusters of nodding, creamy-white bells open in mid-summer on stout stems that reach 6 feet tall.
This reblooming, clump-forming variety blooms in spring, producing 15-inch spires densely packed with pink blossoms. Its deeply cut foliage is compact, with black markings along the midrib. Plants grow to about 10 inches tall and wide.
This drought-tolerant perennial bears deep violet-blue flower spikes in early summer and then sporadically if spent flowers are removed promptly. It forms an erect clump 2.5 feet tall by 1.5 feet wide, with wrinkled, soft hairy leaves.
Gracefully arching 2 to 3-foot tall burgundy stems support narrow leaves streaked in pure white. From late spring to early summer, this species bears white flowers that mature into spherical black fruit in autumn, when the foliage turns a golden yellow. Variegated Solomon's seal is a fine choice for a shady bed. - Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #27
'Husker Red' is one of the few penstemons that does well in wet winters and hot, humid summers. Ruby-toned leaves appear in spring, followed in late spring and early summer by 3-foot-high stems adorned by panicles of white blooms. The flowers attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, but the plants are not magnets for deer or rabbits. In autumn and winter, songbirds feast on the seed. For a stunning display, plant 'Husker Red' in groups. -Chris Kelley, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
'Elegans' is a large hosta with deep, smoky blue, slightly frosted heart-shaped foliage. Deep veins give the leaves a corrugated look. White flowers bloom in early spring. Though slugs love hostas, this one is usually spared. -Sue Whetten, Regional Picks: Rocky Mountains, Fine Gardening issue #127
A multi-stemmed, deciduous tree with a rounded columnar form, stewartia features stunning bark that exfoliates in strips of gray, orange, and reddish brown once the trunk attains a diameter of 2 to 3 inches. Serrated foliage emerges bronzy purple in spring, develops into a dark green by summer, and turns red or orange in the fall. In midsummer, "glamorous" white camellia-like flowers open in random succession and are followed by pointed brown seed pods, which are persistent but not very ornamental.
This large, fast-growing tree has droopy leaves that stay sunny yellow from spring until frost, spiny shoots, and fragrant white flowers in late spring and early summer on pendent racemes. The flowers are followed by smooth brown seed pods that are also interesting. 'Frisia' is one of the cultivars that is grown more for foliage than for its flowers and it does not flower as freely as the species.
This deciduous hybrid offers candy-scented, goblet-shaped blooms to 10 inches across in vivid reddish-purple. It forms a pyramidal outline, and grows up to 40 feet tall.
A deciduous conifer with a pyramidal growth habit, European larch has pendulous lower branches. In spring, needles emerge a shiny chartreuse, turning to deep green by summer and to sunset gold in late fall. Cultivars include 'Pendula', a weeping cultivar; 'Fastigiata', a narrow and upright variety; and 'Pyramidalis'.
The tiered branches of this fast-growing species are covered with white blossoms for over a month, starting in late summer. The flowers fade to reveal fuchsia calyxes that persist well into autumn. The pale, peeling bark can be exposed by pruning the lower branches of the interior. Although the form of the species is variable (single or multi-stemmed), it can usually be pruned into an elegant vase-shaped specimen, or maintained as a shrub.
Carolina silverbell is a handsome tree with clean green foliage and an upright spreading habit. In mid- or late spring, hundreds of silvery-white bell-shaped flowers dangle from every branch before foliage emerges. The tree also has attractive bark, unusual four-winged seedpods, and yellow fall color.
'Purple Fountain' is a deciduous, columnar, dark-leaved tree with bronze-purple, wavy margined leaves and cascading branches. Leaves become more green as summer wears on. It can be used as a specimen tree or for pleaching. It is similar to the purple weeping beech but is much more columnar. Fall color is yellow, then orange-brown.
This is a lovely species grown for its distinct pairs of 7-inch-long, assymetrical white bracts which hang from the branches in layers in late spring. Given room and maturity (seed-grown trees may not bloom for up to 20 years), this plant is notable in both form and flower.
This upright, tree-like shrub has heart-shaped, toothed, mid-green leaves. Pendent yellow catkins are borne in late winter and early spring. Strongly twisted, spiraling shoots provide year-round interest.
This native flowering tree is best known for its early spring blossoms, which are actually yellowish green flowers clustered in the center of four showy, white to pink bracts 1-1/2 to 2 inches long. Clusters of four bright red fruits mature in early fall, often persisting into the beginning of winter.
Yellowwood is a vase-shaped spreading tree with dark green foliage that turns a delicate yellow or orange in the fall and smooth light gray bark. Breathtaking, pendulous, foot-long, wisteria-like clusters of fragrant white flowers appear in late spring and early summer, often in alternate years.
In early spring, 'Forest Pansy' awakens with a long-lasting profusion of bright purplish-pink blooms borne in clusters, before the leaves, along smooth gray branches. Its heart-shaped, blood-red leaves are finely veined and glossy when young, slowly turning a dark, purple-tinged green in full sun. Autumn foliage is a bouquet of reds, purples, oranges, and yellows. The plant's graceful branching structure stands out in winter.
This deciduous small tree initially has a pyramidal form, and later rounded. Cercis -like, opposite, heart-shaped blue-green leaves are borne on stiff, slender, pendulous branches that fan out from the crown and sweep the ground. Caramel-scented foliage emerges bronze or purple-red, turns blue-green, then fades to gold or apricot in autumn. Tiny red flowers emerge in late March or early April before the leaves.
This shrubby tree has leaves that emerge bronze, mature green, and fade to orange and red in autumn. It bears 3-inch-long racemes of white flowers in spring, followed by edible, juicy blue-black fruit.
This slow-growing understory tree has highly ornamental, peeling orange-cinnamon bark. Its dark green, three-lobed leaves turn a brilliant orange-red in autumn.
This fast-growing, upright specimen has very attractive small, blunt, dark blue-green leaves and arching branches. Bowl-shaped, pure white flowers are borne midsummer in large numbers. They attract butterflies.
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.
Vibrant blossoms appear in spring and continue until frost. In fall, the dark green foliage and hearty stems are edged with red. -Judith Ireland, Regional Reports: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #122
This ninebark's new leaves unfurl a golden yellow and then mature to a rosy red-burgundy. Clusters of white blooms accompany the dramatic foliage in early summer, followed by bright red seedheads that fade to tan. 'Center Glow' is a fast grower and an ideal candidate for mixed borders or foundation plantings. It grows to 8 to 10 feet tall and almost as wide. In winter, the older stems have attractive peeling bark.
This compact shrub was bred by the noted horticulturist, Dr. Michael Dirr. It was selected not only for its small stature but also for its excellent disease resistance and standout flower color.
'Henry's Garnet' Virginia sweetspire is a very dependable, showy plant. It is an arching, 3- to 5-foot-tall shrub that holds its leaves well into fall, allowing the maroon, yellow, and orange tones to develop and reveal themselves over time. Virginia sweetspire also produces an early-summer show, featuring slender, drooping racemes of white flowers that attract all sorts of pollinating insects. Its suckering, slowly spreading, 6-foot-wide habit makes it a good choice for slopes and mass plantings.
This plant is a suckering shrub or small tree with toothed, pointy, bright green leaves. It bears white flowers in spring, which are followed by spherical dark red to scarlet berries that persist through the winter. Some fruit ripens to yellow or orange.
'Tardiva' is a late-flowering (early to late autumn) cultivar with loosely-packed, sharply pointed white flower heads that turn purplish-pink with age. It is a vigorous, fast growing deciduous shrub that reaches 8 to 12 feet tall.
These shrubs are beautiful, compact, and easy to grow, making them obvious choices for mixed borders, foundation plantings, and naturalizing. The fragrant, bottlebrush flowers are petalless and sweetly-scented.
Southern bush honeysuckle has an attractive thicket-forming habit. Glossy green leaves with tapered tips emerge tinged with bronze and mature to mid-green on reddish stems. Sulfur-yellow flowers in terminal clusters to 3 inches across appear in summer.
This shrub or small tree has stunning dark red-purple foliage that turns scarlet in autumn. It has plume-like seed clusters, which appear after the flowers and give a long-lasting, smoky haze to branch tips.
This plant has a cypress-like, densely conical form with erect feathery branches of ovate blue-gray juvenile leaves. Oblong male cones emerge bluish black, opening brick red. Female cones are wrinkled and reddish brown, to one half-inch. A native of western North America, it is a very popular species since it is highly adaptable.
These plants can take worst of the a hot summer (heat, lack of water, and humidity) and still manage to perform well. They generally live four to five years before they need replacing, but during that time, they offer dependable foliage and pretty blue flowers from mid- to late summer. Blue-mist shrubs form low-growing, finely-textured mounds and are deer-resistant.
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.
'Confetti' offers finely textured medium green foliage variegated with creamy white and pink. Pale pink tubular flowers appear in late summer or fall. This rounded, semi-evergreen shrub grows to about 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
This everblooming daylily is a member of the Happy Ever Appster(R) family of daylilies. All Happy Ever Appster daylilies are offspring of the popular 'Happy Returns' daylily and were developed by Dr. Darrel Apps, famous daylily hybridizer. 'Just Plum Happy' flaunts 6-inch-wide, bright rose-pink blooms with purple centers on stems 12 to 16 inches tall from June to frost above a clump of deep green, strappy leaves 18 to 24 inches wide.
Brightly variegated golden foliage with green stripes near the leaf margins give this Japanese forest grass its distinctive look. Too much shade can cause the golden portion to fade to lime green. This slow-growing may not reach a mature size for three years, but it is definitely worth the wait. -Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
The large blooms of this perennial are a spectacular violet-blue with a white throat and darker venation on plants 1 to 2 feet tall and wide. The attractive foliage weaves itself through neighboring plants. Grow in borders, containers, or rock or cottage gardens. 'Rozanne' is most effective en masse.
Early in the season, the thin, heart-shaped leaves of this plant have a red tinge, which turns to bronze in fall. Plant red epimedium along a path, where its delicate foliage and tiny spring flowers can be admired. -Marty Hair, Regional Picks: Upper Midwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
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
'Blue Fortune' produces spikes of powder-blue flowers held over large, deep green foliage. The plant stands approximately 36 inches tall with a mature width of 18 inches. Peak bloom occurs in midsummer when butterflies are plentiful.
This rhizomic, mat-forming and aggressive perennial frows to 2 feet tall and wide with ferny, finely-textured, green foliage. Flowers are produced in flat corymbs in early to late summer.
This tender perennial climber is evergreen in Zones 10 and warmer. Cheerful, 1.5-inch flowers in shades of orange and yellow cover this fast-growing vine. The blossoms have a simple form: 5 petals surrounding a brownish purple center. Where grown as an annual, plants can reach 8 feet; when grown as a perennial, 20 feet.
'Sedona' coleus has leaves blessed with shades of pink and orange, giving the plant a bronzy appearance.
A rare and graceful beauty, this plant is not a true foxglove, but its flowers are similarly shaped and hang in clusters. They come in shades of white and pink with pale violet stripes highlighting the inner throats. This plant’s soft coloring brings the delicacy typical of spring-blooming plants into the summer garden. The gray-green foliage has a distinctly nutty fragrance and is deer resistant. As a large-scale plant, South African foxglove holds its own when planted among shrubs and is best complemented by plants with deep purple foliage. It also makes a good cutting flower.
'Carmencita' castor bean is a shrub, usually grown as an annual, that grows to 6 to 10 feet and is well branched, with dark bronze-red foliage and bright red female flowers. Grow in a cool greenhouse or use as a specimen foliage plant in the summer outdoors.
As the name implies, this plectranthus has green leaves with lime green edges. Some of the leaves are entirely lime green. It looks great mingling around the feet of perennials, shrubs, and annuals.
This cultivar of pearl millet has wide, deep purple foliage and stems. It forms a 5-foot-high specimen with tight cylindrical flowers of purple-brown seeds—a favorite of many birds. This plant makes a stunning container specimen. In the mixed border, its foliage contrasts nicely with other plants.
Broad, deep-green leaves nearly a foot long and panicles of flowers the color of a Granny Smith apple make this Nicotiana a great companion for many other garden plants. It looks especially handsome with dark-foliaged trees or shrubs like purple smoke bush ( Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’) or ‘Diabolo’ ninebark ( Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’). It is also good with grasses. N. langsdorffii comes into its own as a moderator wherever colors clash. That chameleon-like quality makes this nicotiana’s propensity to self-sow most welcome; no matter where its progeny appear, they look great.
A beautiful hot-colored annual that's sure to fire up any container display you include it in.
A bushy, hairy-leaved annual, globe amaranth bears round purple flower bracts on thick stems in summer and early fall. This plant is useful as summer bedding or in a border or cutting garden. It is fairly drought tolerant and very heat tolerant. It grows to about 2 feet tall.
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 vigorous 5- to 6-foot plant sports fascinating foliage colors. Spring leaves emerge an intense purple and are soon striped with green, yellow, pink, and red. Vivid orange flowers appear in summer on this quick multiplier. Information provided by Anthony Tesselaar Plants.
A tuberous-rooted perennial most often grown as an annual or a houseplant, 'White Queen' has large frosted-looking white leaves that have green margins and bright red veins that "bleed". A great plant for full shade, it can also be grown in sun if provided with consistently moist soil. Greenish-white flower spathes appear in spring and are followed by white berries, but the foliage is the main show. Its arrow-shaped leaves light up a dark spot and work well as bedding or in containers. It can also be grown as a houseplant and tubers can be overwintered indoors.
This rose-and-cream Calibrachoa is one of a kind. The unique markings on the petals and the plant's mounding habit make it a standout in hanging baskets and containers.
This is one of the exceptional Big Sky™ series ( E. paradoxa crossed with E. purpurea ), bearing fragrant, russet-orange petals and reddish-brown central cones. These hybrids have all inherited the large green leaves, strong branching stems, wide flower petals, and profuse blooming tendencies of E. purpurea .
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.
Red spider lily’s brilliant red flowers remind me of an azalea’s ball truss. Blooms fade quickly in hot weather, but a higher degree of shade helps them last a while longer. Depending on where it grows in the Southeast, red spider lily blooms from early September to mid-October. After the bloom stalks fade away, foot-long, strap-shaped leaves emerge and last through winter. Red spider lily is an heirloom bulb that is easily passed from hand to hand. Replant offsets as the leaves die in spring. -Parker Andes, Fine Gardening #147 (October 2012), page 71
This 2005 All-America Selections® winner is a cultivar of our native blanket flower. It covers itself in large reddish flowers with yellow edges up to a month earlier than other gaillardia. Growing to just about a foot tall and wide, it is beautiful at the front of a border.
The unique, finely quilled, 2-inch-wide flowers are what make 'Henry Eilers' stand out from the rest of the coneflowers. The petals sit separate from one another, forming a brilliant, golden yellow starburst around a dark brownish purple cone. The blooms grow on strong, upright, 4- to 5-foot-tall stems in late summer, and are produced in such abundance that you can cut some for bouquets and you'll never even notice they are missing from the garden. The stems are covered with a soft, hairy down, while the leaves have a pleasing vanilla-and-anise scent.
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.