Salvia argentea 'Artemis'
This member of the sage family is an outstanding addition to a sunny border or rock garden. It prefers light, gravelly soil with good drainage, easily tolerating dry spells. 'Artemis' is a biennial, meaning it requires two seasons to complete its growth cycle; however, it is only hardy to Zone 5. In the northern garden it will grow as an annual. It produces amazing downy rosettes of silver-grey foliage that look remarkably like felt. Over the season, the leaves enlarge to 8" long by 6" wide. Even a single plant makes a statement when placed near the front of the border.
Hibiscus acetosella 'Mahogany Splendor'
This tall sun-loving ornamental – also called African Rose Mallow or False Roselle – is notable for its gorgeous maroon foliage. As garden writer Marie Iannotti explains, "Hibiscus acetosella is a short-lived sub-shrub or woody perennial, grown mainly for its foliage... The leaves can be ovate or lobed, but the newer varieties have been bred to have deeply lobed, finely cut leaves like Japanese maples."
Hibiscus acetosella will grow to its available conditions. This season, it grew to about 30 inches In a large planter. It can grow taller in a bed, but it does like to remain evenly moist, so consider whether you can maintain moisture levels better in a garden bed or a container. For a rich colour and dense foliage, this hibiscus should receive six hours of sunlight.
Other reliable cultivars include 'Red Shield' and 'Panama Red', but I highly recommend 'Mahogany Splendor', a 2012 release from PanAmerican Seeds. If you long for a Japanese maple, but wisely acknowledge it couldn't survive a Zone 2 winter, give HIbiscus acetosella a try.
... more detail on Red-leafed Hibiscus.
Mirabilis jalapa 'Limelight'
When I heard its common name – Four O'Clocks – I recognized this old-fashioned plant our grandmothers grew. Some gardeners have told me they've had trouble growing this plant; I must have had complete beginner's luck with Limelight Mirabilis, a variety of offered by Veseys Seeds. 'Limelight' grew well in full sun in both a container and in the ground.
The tubular fuschia coloured flowers open in late afternoon, hence the name 'Four O'Clocks'. They have a light perfume that delights in the slanting rays as a day of garden work comes to a close.
This post is for Wyoma Fauconnier, a Master Gardener, mentor and friend who considers seed starting to be the best part of gardening.