Top 15 Plants for Dramatic Lighting

Our cover story on Outdoor Lighting in the current issue of Washington Gardener magazine describes the many methods for lighting your garden. One thing that got bumped due to space restrictions was our top 15 listing of plants to highlight with dramatic lighting, so I thought I'd share them here. If you have any of these gorgeous trees and shrubs in your garden, take the time to look at them at different times of day and in different seasons of the year. Consider how they can be spotlighted and showcased for the best effect. Feel free to share (in the comments section) your own choices for plants that deserve spotlighting.

  • Thanks to Mark Oxley of Outdoor Illumination for providing many of the plant suggestions on this listing.

The crape myrtles pictured here are at the American University campus near a stretch of turf called "the beach."

  • American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
  • Crabapple (Malus spp.)
  • Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
  • Dogwood (Cornus kousa and Cornus florida)
  • Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
  • Harry Lauder's Walking Stick (Corylus 'Contorta' )
  • Hawthorne (Crataegus oxyacantha)
  • Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) and Japanese Laceleaf Maple (Acer palmatum dissectum)
  • Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonicus)
  • River Birch (Betula nigra)
  • Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana)
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.)
  • Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia)
  • Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)
  • Weeping Cherry (Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula')


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