One of our readers asked us to recommend some plants that were less commonly used, so I thought about my time in retail garden centers and the great plants that really needed a push to leave the bench. It wasn't a lack of showy flowers, or a wimpy constitution that made them invisible--they just didn't have the name recognition that prompts confidence. Folks seem a little afraid of something "new." If they haven't seen it planted all over the neighborhood, they tend to be unsure as to how well it will do for them. Here in Maryland, our sunny gardens seem full of black-eyed Susans (well, it IS our state flower), May Night salvias, purple coneflowers, Knockout roses, hydrangeas, Miscanthus (maiden grass), and dwarf fountain grass. The usual culprits for foundation plantings are azaleas, Manhattan euonymous, and Japanese hollies. And there's nothing wrong with any of those--by and large, they're sturdy and relatively low-maintenance. But now and again, isn't it nice to be just a little different? If you're going to put in the time and effort, it's worth making a unique space that sets you just a bit apart. So be not afraid, and use these recommendations as you see fit: