In mild winters, the hardy bananas (Musa basjoo) you see in the photo above will defoliate but resume growing from the same height the following spring. If a big frost comes, as in the past three winters, then they will die all the way back to the ground. Unless of course they live in my yard, where they get wrapped in Christmas lights during a freeze so they don't die all the way to the ground. I'm afraid the only reason I do this is for the bragging rights.
The Schefflera taiwaniana in the photo below is quickly approaching my height. I am sure it will surpass me next spring.
Noel wanted me to take his picture. On his left is Ricinus communis (I forgot the variety - a red one) and to the right is Canna 'Musifolia' - a plant that is frustratingly spectacular. It seems to be hardier than other cannas. The stems are a deep burgundy with dark green leaves - very nice contrast. They reach about 12' before starting to flop over (I'll remember to tie them up next year). What's most frustrating is they get ready to bloom right about a day before they are killed to the ground by a frost. So this is merely a foliage plant around here. It also needs full sun.