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Reaching 2 to 3 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide in 10 years, Pinus parviflora ‘Fuku-zu-mi’ is a slow grower, with lush tufts of twisted, blue-green foliage. An ideal specimen plant, this medium-size tree naturally has an unusual, irregular, spreading form that makes it look windswept. Zones 5 to 8.
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A golden form of this ancient species (fossil records date back some 90 million years), Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Gold Rush’ has dawn redwood’s signature pyramidal profile and feathery foliage. Needles hold their color throughout the growing season, then turn amber in autumn and fall from the tree (dawn redwood, like the similar bald cypress, is a deciduous conifer). Reaches 12 to 15 feet in 10 years. Zones 5 to 8.
Related Topics: Ideas | I Love This Plant | Plant guide | plants | Trees
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 cultivar of Iresine herbstii, which is also disturbingly called chicken gizzard and bloodleaf, ‘Blazin’ Lime’ is the new sister to the popular ‘Blazin’ Rose’. Sports lime-green leaves with cream-yellow veining on fuchsia-pink stems. Puts on the best show in light shade. Heat tolerant. Grows 1 to 2 feet tall. Annual.  simplybeautifulgardens.com
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
One of 22 varieties in the Celebrette Series, ‘Coral Light’ has a kickin’ combination of large coral flowers hovering over dark-edged foliage midstriped with a blaze of more coral. Needs some shade, but laughs at heat and humidity. Grows 8 to 10 inches tall and 10 to 12 inches wide. Annual.  simplybeautifulgardens.com
Hot-pink leaves with ruffled, variegated borders edged with a thin line of light green make Solenostemon ‘Pink Chaos’ look like an explosion of neon paisley. Grows 6 to 18 inches tall. Can be perennial in Zones 10 to 11, but elsewhere is an annual. Available from Garden Crossings, Proven Winners, and Sunny Borders Nurseries.
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.
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.
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