Hosta, deciduous, low clumping growth to 30 inches in height, spikes of blue, lavender or white flowers in summer, grown primarily for lush foliage which runs from yellow through green to blue, many hybrids available.
Large clumps of big, fresh-looking spring leaves make these perfect understory plants; spikes of blue, lavender, or white trumpet-shaped flowers are a summer bonus. Leaves may be heart-shaped, lance-shaped, oval, or nearly round; they can be glossy or dull, smooth or textured, straight or wavy edged. Mounds range from 3–4 in. across to 5 ft. in diameter. Foliage runs from lime to dark green, greenish gold, gray, and blue, with many variegated forms whose colors vary with climate and soil type.
New varieties are legion. To get what you want, buy the plant in full leaf or from a reputable mail-order specialist. All are native to eastern Asia.
Though hostas are shade lovers, some tolerate sun, especially in cool-summer zones (those with white or yellow in leaves are least sun-tolerant). Plants grown in sun will be more compact and will producemore flowers. All go dormant in winter (even in mild climates), collapsing to almost nothing.
Artemisia, evergray, upright to rounded growth habit to 3-4 ft., grown for silver-gray, finely cut hairy foliage, full sun, drought tolerant, deer resistant, good cut flower.
Several species are valuable for interesting leaf patterns and silvery gray or white aromatic foliage (flowers are generally insignificant). Most kinds are excellent in mixed borders, where their white or silvery leaves soften harsh reds and oranges and blend beautifully with blues, lavenders, and pinks. Provide good drainage. Cut nonwoody-stemmed perennials to ground in late fall to rejuvenate; prune back woody perennials and shrubs (into older wood if necessary) before first flush of spring growth. Divide perennials in spring or fall; propagate shrubs by cuttings.
Native to coastal region from NorthernCalifornia to Baja California. To1 1/2–5 ft. tall, 4–7 ft. wide, with finely divided, aromatic, grayish white leaves. Foliage is lush in winter and somewhat sparse in summer. Reseeds manageably. Superior selections include ‘Canyon Gray’, which grows 1–2 ft. tall (with occasional pruning of upright stems) and 6–10 ft. wide; and ‘Montara’, with a mounding habit to 2 ft. tall and 3–5 ft. wide. Both makeexcellent groundcovers.
Artemisia absinthium is a probable parent of this hybrid woody perennial, which grows into a silvery, lacy mound 3 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide. It makes a splendid background for bright flowers of other plants and is tough enough to use as a bank or berm cover.