Way Hots

Way Hots

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Landscape designer Stephen Suzman likes the groundcover species Senecio mandraliscae for its fast growth and distinctive chalky-blue fleshy foliage. A native of South Africa, it grows 12 to 18 inches tall with masses of 3- to 4-inch pencil-like leaves. For more, visit Great Garden Plants.

A vibrant groundcover for the shade garden, Lamium maculatum ‘Anne Greenaway’ forms a 6- to 8-inch-tall mass of scallop-edged variegated leaves that glitter with chartreuse, silver and mint green. Clusters of small lilac-mauve flowers add to the display in late spring, but the foliage can last all year in mild-winter regions. Perennial.
A black-eyed Susan amped to the max. Heads of narrow, quilled golden petals look like a cheerleader’s pom-pom. Blooms summer through fall, 18 inches tall. Hardy to Zone 5a.
One of the most-striking and long-lasting cut flowers isn’t even a flower. The foliage of ‘Crane Red’ ornamental kale forms a tight cluster, rose veined with a rosy-purple center, at the end of a long, sturdy stem, looking like an oversize rose blossom. The Crane Series (which comes in several colors, including bicolor and white) was bred specifically for cutting, taking the popular cool-season annual kale to new heights, up to 2 feet tall, with heads up to 7 inches wide.
This new Japanese water iris has a poetic grace, with large flowers of lavender falls veined in violet and a dark-purple central clutch of “petaloids.” Adds a lovely accent to summer water gardens when grown in a partly submerged container. Hardy in Zones 4-9.  heronswood.com

Often called pork and beans or jellybean plant, Sedum x rubrotinctum is a 6- to 8-inch low-mounding groundcover with fat little leaves that go from bright green to red. Suzman calls it “very easy and reliable.” The glowing hues of Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ have made it a must-have for containers and perennial borders, with needlelike chartreuse to bright-gold leaves usually tipped with orange. greatgardenplants.com

For unusual muted shades, landscape designer Stephen Suzman likes to use Echeveria ‘Afterglow’ (powdery pinkish lavender) and E. ‘Perle von Nürnberg’, pictured (grayish brown with a pinkish mauve tinge). Both form rosettes of overlapping leaves, 1 foot across for ‘Afterglow’, 5 to 6 inches for ‘Perle von Nürnberg’. provenwinners.com

Solenostemon 'Chocolate Mint' is a rich new coleus with mahogany velvet leaves edged in chartreuse.
Making its common name particularly apropos, this snake plant has long, narrow, cylindrical leaves arranged in dramatic Mohawk fans. A collector’s form of an old-fashioned plant and a must-have for chic interior-scapes. This grouping, planted in a row of tall, stylish concrete planters, creates a simple yet dramatic accent to a contemporary home, though they also fit well in less modern settings. bobsmoleys.com, stokestropicals.com
Hot plus cool equals a jazzy ornamental pepper that’s not pungent, so it’s safe to grow around kids. Indoors it makes a wild “hairdo,” spring through Christmas, of twisty narrow peppers in ivory, yellow, orange and red. Also look for child-friendly ‘Chilly Chili’.
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