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A tropical tree by design, the Mexican fire bush freezes to the ground in winter in Zones 8-11, but grows up to 5 feet tall by summer's end. The erect, branched, woody stems bear simple copper-toned leaves with small orange flowers bunched along the tips. It loves the heat, and the more you can give it, the more vigorous it will be.
One of the hardiest palms, Chinese windmill palm has single stems with large, 4-foot-wide fans of sword-like leaves. It produces large plumes of yellow flowers in early summer; the flowers of female plants transform into bluish-black fruits. Chinese windmill palms may be shoot-hardy to Zone 6 if protected with 10 inches of mulch. With their rich fans and handsome habits, they make attractive specimens for formal outdoor spaces. These evergreen palms are native to the mountains and temperate regions of subtropical Asia. Plants can grow to 20 feet tall and 8 feet wide.
Long thought extinct, the wollemi pine was discovered in 1994 in a remote section of Australia. With only a small grove in existence, a plan was developed to save the tree from extinction by propagating it and selling its offspring. Trials in the U.S. have placed the wollemi pine in Zones 7 to 11. Grow it in full sun. Because this tree has been around since the time of the dinosaurs, it's safe to say it is long-lived. And apparently brontosaurus browsing isn't a problem.
This tropical palm grows to 35 feet tall and has stiff, feathery-textured fronds. In summer, it bears yellow flowers followed by fruit that ripens to bright red. It tolerates both alkaline soil and coastal conditions well.
From May to frost, whatever the temperature, this plant's creamy yellow markings do not fade. It looks good in containers or in garden beds, and you can use it in the foreground or as a focal point in distant plantings. Variegated tapioca attains a height and width of 3 to 4 feet. It is normally grown as an annual, but can be overwintered indoors. -Allan Armitage, Plant picks, Fine Gardening issue #121
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