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.
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

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

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

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
Dime-size purple-crimson flower clusters above black-tinted foliage. A sweet William from Sahin in the Netherlands. Biennial or short-lived perennial. Zones 4-8. b-and-t-world-seeds.com, chocolateflowerfarm.com, hardyplants.com, rushcreekgrowers.com 
New leaves on this Indian bean tree emerge wine colored to chocolate, segueing to green in summer. White flowers are lavender-tinged. Though it can reach 40 to 50 feet tall and wide, it can be pruned hard to keep it shrubby. Zones 5-9. forestfarm.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
Want your bouquet to really pack a punch? How about a fiery red-and-yellow dinner-plate dahlia up to 11 inches across! Dahlias can take a little effort (staking, pinching, storing tubers over the winter in cooler zones), but the results are worth it, and anyone who loves to make floral arrangements has them on the list of must-haves. ‘Bodacious’ can produce flowers midsummer into fall. dahlias.com, dutchbulbs.com
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