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Plant This, Not That

Tired of seeing the same old thing year after year? Break out of your rut with these sure bets

Fine Gardening - Issue 138

This spring, why not challenge yourself to try something different? Occasionally straying outside your usual repertoire is the only way you’ll find new favorites. Whether you’re a sucker for dramatic summertime blooms or a pragmatist looking for low-maintenance cultivars, there are reliable, eye-catching plants out there that you’ve yet to discover.

Of course, popular plants got that way for a reason. New plants need to offer something extra to make them worthwhile. If, for instance, you trade in a flowering cherry tree for an ‘Indian Summer’ crabapple (Malus ‘Indian Summer’, USDA Hardiness Zones 4–8), you will get the same dazzling spring blooms plus a brilliant show of orange foliage in fall.

It’s also worth mentioning that, despite all their good qualities, some popular plants have serious flaws. Many trees, shrubs, and ground covers that were widely planted decades ago have turned out to be troublemakers over time. (That’s…

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