Minor miracles, flower factories and leafy wonders. And the Grass Age continues.
 Abies Koreana 'Horstmann's Silberlocke'. Actually a tree, but easy to appreciate when young and small — purple cones, needles that reveal silver undersides. "A self-trimming Christmas tree." (Druse) Zones 5-6.
 Almond Bush (Aloysia Virgata). Deciduous shrub to 10 feet. Fragrance of white flowers, from spring to frost reminiscent of marzipan. Zones 8-10.
 Brugmansia 'Snowbank' Among many wonderful angel's trumpets — never failing to evoke the tropics — this stands out. "Awesome in a container, huge, fragrant, dangling apricot flowers in amazing profusion. The most beautiful variegated foliage." (Heims) Zones 8-9. Annual in cold climates.
 Buxus Microphylla 'Faulkner' Faulkner boxwood is bright green, shiny, dome-shaped without much pruning. Also look for B. sempervirens 'Jensen', bluish green, dense, rounded, "like a blown-glass sculpture." (Rudy) Zones 6-9.
 'Nuccio's Bella Rossa' Camellia. Fire-engine red, 4-inch flowers in a formal form. Heavy bloomer. Zones 8-10.
 Forsythia Viridissima var. Koreana 'Kumson' Each leaf is deep green with creamy yellow, changing to silver netted pattern. Needs part to full shade. Zones 5-8.
 Red Hybrid Hollies (Ilex) Hybrids such as Oakleaf, Robin, Little Red, Cardinal are manageable in smaller gardens. Compact habit, great new leaf color, bountiful berries. Zones 6-9.
 Loropetalum Chinense 'Sizzling Pink' Should we dismiss all new loropetalums because they ruled the '90s? Only if you would say Nirvana was a flash in the pan. This one's burgundy new growth stays purple all year. Frizzy pink flowers. Other winners include 'Burgundy'. Zones 7-9.
 Spiraea Betulifolia 'Tor'. White flowers, compact habit, crinkled leaves. "This is the clincher: bright purple foliage in autumn." (Martin) Zones 4-6.
 Weigela Midnight Wine?. Dwarf with dark burgundy foliage. "Looks like a chocolate muffin in a pot." (Wood) Zones 5-8.
HYDRANGEAS: Growers have been sharing some exciting developments.
 Endless Summer The first to market in a line of "mophead" hydrangeas that bloom on new wood, which keeps blooms coming. Pink or blue, depending on soil pH. Zones 4-9.
 H. Paniculata 'Limelight' Conical blooms start out creamy, turn chartreuse. "Stands tough in cold Chicago winters." (Rudy) Zones 3-8.
 'Little Honey' Oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia) breakthrough. Compact growth (3 to 4 feet), chartreuse leaves, white flowers. Zones 6-8. New varieties flood the market every year. Some endure. Check on local adaptability.
 Knock Out Lived up to the hype — which is saying a lot for a rose. Relatively disease-free, drought resistant, heavy blooming. "A rose that can behave like other garden plants. Neon-cherry color is a real eye-catcher. Imagine it with Russian sage and fountain grass." (McNish)
[86 Golden Celebration? Rich yellow, very fragrant blooms, arching shrub with dense foliage, easy to grow.
 Flower Carpet® See them everywhere, an ongoing success story. Shiny foliage, repeating blooms, compact growth — ground cover nonpareil. Sixth in series, yellow is new this year.
GRASSES AND GRASSLIKE PLANTS
 Carex Comans 'Frosted Curls' "I love its swirly gesture and luminous quality. It contrasts beautifully with so many plants." (Bussolini) Zones 7-9.
 Carex Pansa "Great Western lawn substitute." (Frohan) Zones 8-9.
 Carex Siderosticha 'Lemon Zest' "Perfect for that yellow zing spot needed in containers or plopped next to my favorite purple heuchera in part shade." (Davis) Zones 6-9.
 Chondropetalum Tectorum "So great in a container, modern, architectural, low maintenance." (Frohan) Zones 8-9.
 Hakonechloa Macra 'All Gold' An all-yellow form of hakone grass. Graceful arching habit forms a mound 3 feet across, 12 to 18 inches tall. "I lusted for it for years. Finally it is in tissue culture and will be widely available this year." (Steffen) Zones 5-9
 Fiber Optic Grass (Isolepis Cernua). "So weird and wonderful." (Walheim) Mainly for wet spots. Zones 8-10.
 Juncus Effusus F. Spiralis 'Blonde Ambition'. Bright gold, twisted leaves. "It displays nature's sense of humor at its most quirky and makes me smile." (Chivers) Zones 5-9
 Miscanthus 'Giganteus' Sturdy and towering — to 9 or 10 feet or more. Zones 4-9.
 Panicum Virgatum 'Northwind' Selection of native prairie grass. Bright green, then golden yellow in fall, 5 or 6 feet tall. Zones 4-9.
 Paspalum Quadrifarium Looks like a silver pincushion with 3-foot leaves. Tolerates high heat and humidity — and Southern theme parks, where it's ubiquitous. Zones 7-10.
 Pennisetum Alopecuroides 'Hameln'. Just 3 feet tall. "Incredible sandy color in fall." (Nievera) Zones 6-9.
 Pennisetum Setaceum 'Red Riding Hood' Pint-sized habit (only 18 inches). "Perfect in combinations in small containers or compact gardens." (Strobe). Zone 9-10.
 Schizachyrium Scoparium 'The Blues'. True blue foliage, autumn color. Well behaved. Looks outstanding in drifts. Zones 3-9.