A small genus of about 20 species native to the Northern Hemisphere. The ornamental species hail from the southeastern United States, but many are as enduring in Litchfield's bone-chilling winters as they are in Atlanta's sultry summers. Our variety, which a member of our staff spotted while walking through a greenhouse full of A. tabernaemontana, is a very compact plant with clusters of star-shaped flowers of a deep lavender-blue shade -- much richer than the steel blue for which the species is known. This low grower makes an ideal edging plant, for it has no down time. Blue flowers in May and June, golden yellow fall color, and shiny, willow-shaped leaves all season long mean it deserves a place at center stage. In full sun or partial shade and evenly moist, slightly acidic soil, it brings a soothing presence to the front of the border year after year and asks little in return. It's a first-rate garden plant.