Coppery-orange leaves, 4 inches across, are marked with cinnamon-colored stars. X Heucherella ‘Sweet Tea’, a hybrid between Tiarella and Heuchera villosa, forms a neat mound 1 to 2 feet tall and wide. Performs best in light shade. Looks fabulous no matter how hot the summer. Perennial. Zones 4 to 8.
A glowing combination of blue-green and butter-yellow, with a tantalizing blush of pink on older plants and in cool weather. Bright Star (officially named Yucca gloriosa ‘Walbristar’) forms a spiky crown of flexible swordlike leaves. Slow growing, it eventually forms a short woody trunk similar to some agaves. Perennial. Zones 7 to 10. heronswood.com, plantdelights.com
With the tongue-twisting official name of Euphorbia martini ‘Waleutiny’, it’s no wonder this cushion spurge has acquired a much cuter appellation. Looking like a Koosh Ball, ‘Tiny Tim” forms a perfect 1-foot dome of narrow blue-green leaves and a cloud of greenish-yellow bracts cupped under little red flowers. Unlike many spurges, this one continues to bloom throughout the season. Zones 6-8.
Discovered as a seedling of Euphorbia characias in a garden in Tasmania, this phenomenal spurge has both variegated leaves and flowers, combining blue-green with creamy white. Upright stems are a forest of linear leaves, forming a dense shrubby mound. In spring through early summer, large heads of flowers hover on 2- to 3-foot stems, pale yellow and cream, with small green bow-tie centers. Evergreen where winters are mild. Zones 6-9.
Sea holly is a powerful texture for the vase, whether fresh-cut or dried as an everlasting. Eryngium planum ‘Blue Glitter’ has shimmering blue pincushion flowers perched on spiny ruffs, produced in abundance on pewter-colored stems. It also makes a sparkling perennial for the border.
It is an electric moment to be shaken from musing over the usual offerings at a local garden center by a plant I’ve never heard of before. It’s like hiking in familiar woods and having the compass needle go haywire. In this case, the plant tag combined the words “succulent,” “African” and “hosta” — I had to have it.
Perfectly named, this recent introduction with its lively mosaic of bright white and deep green is a result of crossing ‘Aaron’ (which is white with green veins) and the popular ‘White Christmas’ (which is nearly solid white with a thin green edge).
The front-runner of a growing group of caladiums bred in Thailand, distinguished by smaller, thicker textured, almost waxy foliage. Like stained glass, ‘Thai Beauty’ has stunning pink, almost-translucent leaves with markings of green and vanilla. Reaches 8 to 15 inches tall.
A fancy-leaved form with a central pattern, aptly named a burst, not found in many caladiums, ‘Rosebud’ is hot pink at the heart, with pink veins piercing through a spattering of white and into the dark-green edging. Forms a lush mound 2 feet tall of foot-long leaves. A good choice for containers or tucked into the shade garden. And watch for an amped-up version of ‘Rosebud’ called ‘Summer Rose’, with brighter colors and reddish-purple petioles, on the market this spring.