Edibles with Ease: When to Get Growing from Seeds or from Starts? Read more »
In my side yard which is mostly shade, I have tried a variety of perennials that thrive in a woodland setting. Read more »
Make your garden even more welcoming to birds and butterflies: turn it into a certified wildlife habitat. Read more »
The StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower combines patent-pending technology with superior ergonomics to deliver best-in-class cutting perf... Read more »
Keep your lawn and your shoes clean and free of clippings by adding our innovative, sturdy Grass Catcher to your StaySharp™ Ree... Read more »
The Salsa Rain Barrel System makes it easy to collect up to 58 gallons of water for your garden and lawn. Our rain barrel is ma... Read more »
Make the most of National Craft Month by preparing some craft kits for your children - let them explore color, texture and dif... Read more »
This is the second how-to in a series focused on getting the most out of your basic paper punches. Read more »
Spring brings in the most wonderful colors and here is a fun way to add a touch of color to your gifts! Read more »
Our ProCision™ Rotary Bypass Trimmer features a unique dual-rail system that stabilizes the rotary blade, eliminating wiggle fo... Read more »
Perfect for a wide range of crafting and mixed media tasks, our Amplify® Mixed Media Shears sense blade separation and force th... Read more »
Available online and at your local retailer May 2014 Add distinctive style to craft projects of all kinds with... Read more »
My idea is to show everyone that they can make something cute and fashionable without spending a lot of money. Read more »
Embellishing a plain shirt using a reverse appliqué technique is easy - and your kids will love their personalized outfit! Read more »
This year, it seems like spring is way overdue at our house. Read more »
Perfect for tight, precise cuts, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force the blades back togethe... Read more »
Perfect for a wide range of sewing and quilting tasks, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force t... Read more »
Perfect for users with larger hands or anyone who needs to make long cuts through multiple layers, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabr... Read more »
I always look forward to school being out for the summer (more so than my children, probably!) and the change of pace means we... Read more »
This fun project is a great way to send a little love note to your child. These lunchbox notes can be slipped into a backpack... Read more »
Here is a fun craft for St. Patrick’s Day that is not only adorable, it makes kids stop and think about how lucky they are. Read more »
Children love our Blunt-tip Kids Scissors for the handle that’s shiny, bright and smooth, not “sticky” or “bumpy.” Teachers and... Read more »
Our Big Kids Scissors take the basic design of our teacher-recommended Kids Scissors and enlarge them for kids that are a littl... Read more »
Our Student Scissors are larger than our Kids Scissors but smaller than adult scissors, perfect for those older children who ar... Read more »
Introduced to the world as a quality fabric scissors, the Original Orange-Handled Scissors redefined the standard for cutting p... Read more »
The first time you try our PowerGear® Super Pruner/Lopper, you’ll be amazed — but it’s not magic, it’s gears. Our patented gear... Read more »
Our Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter with a 45 mm blade makes cutting a wide variety of quilting materials comfortable and easy. A cu... Read more »
Consider Tropicanna® cannas as your guide to this spicy mix. The original orange and pink leaf dances to a Latin beat, but now there are black and gold introductions to tempt you too.
Next to cannas, place Solenostemon scutellarioides (syn. Plectranthus for some types), coleus. Coleus are grown as annuals throughout most of the U.S. because they originally hail from Africa, southeast Asia, India and Australia. Square stems tell you they are part of the mint family, and as diverse and spicy as Indian curry. In the beginning, coleus were only grown in the shade. Now, sun coleus are part of every greenhouse arsenal. Some like Big Red Judy® grow to enormous heights while others are quite small.
Another group of tropical foliage plants back in vogue is the genus Alternanthera, Joseph’s coat. Only a few years ago, you rarely saw them, but different selections are now for sale everywhere. Some alternantheras have delicate structure while others are big and bold. While most are grown from cuttings, ‘Purple Knight’ grows true from seed. Alternantheras can be planted in a sunny border, but you will likely see some leaf burn in a sizzling summer.
Acalypha, copperleaf plant, is another diverse genus. Even though it isn’t as common as coleus, it is grown as a shrub in Florida and further south. Where copperleaf is a tender tropical, it still makes a bold statement in the summer border, or as the centerpiece in a container. A. wilkesiana ‘Kona Gold’ is shown below.
Don’t neglect old standards like Strobilanthes dyerianus, Persian shield, Iresine herbstii, chicken gizzard plant, and Setcreasea pallida, purple heart, all which grow better and better the hotter summer gets. Purple heart also has a variegated form with hot pink stripes, a twist on an old favorite.
Cordylines were once considered only houseplants north of Florida. Now, however, they adorn containers and borders throughout the South. Rhoeo spathacea, oyster plant, is another great tropical foliage plant for the front of the border.
Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon,’ above, is an easy plant with beautiful variegated foliage. This cultivar is considered sterile and does not spread by stoloniferous roots like others in its genus.
Fantastic foliage isn’t limited to tropical plants. Japanese maples and perennials can be combined like this red selection and the variegated wand flower below.
As for shrubs, there are so many diverse ones on the market now. Variegated Abelia x grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ mixes beautifully with solid green plants. For dark beauties, try Black Lace® Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’ (elderberry), or purple Cotinus (smokebush). Smokebush can be grow as a small tree or medium shrub.
Foliage can take your garden from a dull and difficult summer to one that shimmies with the heat. Try something different this year, and you too will become a foliage fan. Believe me . . . once you stroll over to the spicy side, you’ll never go back.