Garden Bloggers Foliage Day 22nd September

I wanted to begin this meme, which I do hope many of you will join because I think most of us underestimate the important role fulfilled by the form, texture and different colours of the foliage of the plants that fill our gardens.

When you consider it; what you actually see in the garden is probably 80% foliage and only 20% blooms.  I accept that what we see is the flowers but even then if the foliage around them is not pleasing then even the flowers won’t look their best.

I’d like to explain with images of my garden why I think we should take more time choosing plants not only on the basis of their flower colour, how long they flower for, and their perfume (hopefully); but the overall effect of the foliage: it’s texture; the detail for the leaves, and its colour.  Sometimes foliage colour can make or break a planting combination and if the foliage colour does harmonise or contrast with the flowers it can make the flowers themselves look muddy.

I’m going to begin with what is one of my favourite parts of my garden.  This is the Left Hand Border, the section nearest the house.  I think it looks good at almost all times of year.

If you look at the photo, you’ll see that actually probably more than 80% is green,  Yes there are some flowers – two kind of Sedum are flowering  now and the ever present Verbena (ground-cover) has has some blooms but for the rest it is the texture and colour of the foliage that make this an interesting angle of the garden.  Beginning on the LHS is a pomegranate, next to this in the back ground is a bay hedge (so always green and a sense form, a great background plant) in front of this is Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’, then Sedum Matrona, then Festuca glauca ( this is a signature plant in the garden, always planted in three’s I some them in every border), by the side of this in the foreground is the Verbena.  Then a tree which was in the garden when we purchased the property with next to it the broad leaves of a Canna, They are usually taller than this; to the front are the strappy leaves of Agapanthus still with their seed heads.  Next are a Choisya ternate and then a Melia with large palmate leaves.  Looking from a different angle the foliage is even more important to the composition.

No flowers here at all

Behind this, the linking plant being the Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ is a small area devoted to box balls, grasses and a Teucrium also shaped into a ball and some thyme that naturally form a globe .

The Verbena bonarienis is a self seed, I'll be removing this

At the end of the LHB is a large white Mulberry, it has grown a lot in the last 4 years and it now castes quite a lot of shade.  Here texture and form reign, although at this moment the Acanthus are at their worst.  The old foliage is yellow and crisp and the flower stem brittle, but I can see the new growth that will make this area green all winter.  Hostas thrive here; as long as they have shade they don’t mind if it is quite dry, there  are fewer slugs and snails if it is dry, of course.

Hosta add so much form and light with their variegated leaves

Hosta, Anemone 'Honerine Jubert', Solomon's Seal, with large Canna leaves and again the bay hedge

At last the anemones are beginning to grow, they have struggled in this position but now there is more shade they are managing to clump up and even flower, I love the leaves especially contrasting with the shiny Canna that I grow just for the foliage the flowers on this variety are pretty insignificant.

Messy, too many different plants with not enough difference between them.

Moving on to the back border, I’m struggling here to achieve the look I want.  Here there are too many different grasses mixed together badly.  If texture and form are the main features then I think there need to be big blocks of the same plant, this is true of all planting really but with flowers you can get away with some smaller points of interest.  I need to work on this border; I want it to be mainly grasses with just a few other plants to add variety with some solid form.  There are two walnut trees; I am aware that they interfere with the growth or other shrubs but seem not to impede the growth of grasses.

A little further along, past the fig tree I am very pleased with the planting I did this spring.  There are two varieties of Miscanthus; M. sin Gracillimus and M. sin Graziella.  In front of these are 5 Pennisetum ‘Little Bunny’.  This border is irrigated once a week and it is worth noting that these Little Bunnies are thriving whereas some others planted just across the path, but in a bed that isn’t irrigated are struggling.  I intend moving my unhappy Bunnies to where there is some irrigation and a little shade in the back border.

As most of the foliage will continue for long periods I’m not going to talk about all that’s giving me pleasure this month, if you’d like to see a few of the silver leaved plants that are still sparkling in the sunshine please click on the image below.

Large Island

Please leave a comment with a link to your post about foliage and thank you so much for joining in.

There is another post about foliage by Pam @ Digging the day after GBBD; I know that for many of us 2 posts in 2 days is hard so hopefully spacing it like this will work well.  If you linked to Pam’s digging I am happy that you link back to the same post but maybe you should say so that other visitors will know that they’ve read it before.

52 thoughts on “Garden Bloggers Foliage Day 22nd September

  1. Thanks for joining in the celebration of foliage this month. You have a lot of great foliage plants in your garden. Grasses and silvery leaved plants work well for us here in central Texas too. They’re hard workers and look good nearly all year.

  2. I love your idea and your photography. We are just beginning to appreciate foliage ourselves; this year we started planting an all foliage garden. (We just have the framework and the ribs done. Next year, it will be finished.)

    I’ll try to get a post up tomorrow and if I don’t, you can count on me for October!

  3. Thank you Christina for your kind words, and i am much honored with your invitation to join your foliage meme. However, I cannot post now after that one for Illumination. Maybe i will post again during the weekend. I hope this foliage meme will be once a month and not very often. We have a lot of foliage, actually i’ve also posted some way back. I even call them the Oxygen Generators.

    I also didn’t realize that Lazio is a region in Italy. I’ve been to Rome once and hope to visit other areas which I really found very beautiful, especially the countryside which i found on the net and in other blogs.

    • Good to hear from you Andrea, GBFD will be on the 22nd of each month, so a week after Bloom day, which I hope will give bloggers some time between blooms and foliage. I’d be happy with either something about an overall effect theat foliage creates in the garden or just one leaf that you find interesting – pretty free really. Rome is in the region of Lazio. We live about half way between Rome and Siena. If you come back to Italy I hope you visit my Hesperides garden. Christina

  4. Christina, I’ve just posted some pics for this Foliage Day, I see you didn’t manage to insert a link widget on the post, so let me know if leaving a message is the right way.

  5. Hi Christina, great post, you make a good case for paying attention to the architectural and year round value of foliage in the garden. I love the contrast between the hosta leaves and the grasses, and agree that it can be really tricky to combine different grasses well, somehow they have a tendency to end up looking messy. Your silvery foliage combinations are magical. Thanks for starting up a foliage meme – my first post is up.

  6. You are right doing a post on foilage the day after Bloom Day has proved too much of a challenge for me. I will try very hard to remember to join in with this meme are you going to do it on a monthly basis

    • Hi Helen, yes I intent doing the post for GBFD on the 22nd of each month. So roughly a week after GBBD. I do hope you will join in. I’ve seen some lovely foliage in your other posts. Your succulents in today’s post would be perfect. Christina

  7. So funny because, although I agree with you completely, I started my nursery Carolyn’s Shade Gardens with the idea of showing gardeners that they could have showy flowers in the shade. So many articles on shade gardening start “well you can’t have color in the shade, but think of the wonderful foliage.” Nevertheless, foliage is an often neglected, major element of any garden design.

  8. Ciao Christina – I have been lured out of my hibernation (or rather estivation) by your new foliage initiative. Only a very short post but I now might get back to blogging properly again. I have been overseas almost all the summer on business trips so the garden has become rather neglected. With any luck I will have a bit of sparew time to sort things out in October before the winter arrives. Well done with your Foliage!

    • Great post Frances, great that we’ve come up with the same colour combination, we’ll be able to share ideas of plants that might work for us. Thanks for joining in GBFD Christina

  9. Hi Christina. I did add foliage for a few days in my Month in Tens post so as to participate in your meme. But my garden, being so tiny, features the blooms, which have a tendency to cover up the foliage plants. The foliage plants play a small backseat, supporting role during the growing season months. The shrubs were designed in for winter interest and garden structure. Winter is where they shine in aesthetics and as shelter for wildlife. In my garden, I do have about 64 boxwood, maybe more, 9 yews, a couple Alberta Spruce, a Concolor, 32 Hosta, and 19 Arbs – all in various shades of greens and blues. Word for Wednesday meme is running at pretty much the same time, so I will try to think about how a word might fit in with this meme so people can use one post for both if they choose. Maybe you can also think about ‘Repose’ in two weeks for my meme. Foliage is very relaxing in a garden. It gives the eye a place to rest amongst the play of color and texture. It is a way to interpret ‘Repose’. Hope to see you join in on Oct.5. The subsequent Word for Wednesday is on Oct 19 which is the conflicting meme. Submit a word, then we can work together for both. Thank you for joining in Illumination, I know it is hard to participate in so many memes. I myself had to limit them or I would not ever post on things I wanted.

    Your garden is lush with foliage and texture, and the grasses are beautiful. My Little Bunny is placed with my hydrangea, so it is happily getting water meant for the hydrangea. And my hosta also live in an area that I do not water and they are very happy and pretty much slug free. A few chewed leaves by those little buggers willing to cross dry terrain, though.

    • Thank you for joining in. I’m happy if we can make posts valid for more than one meme and hopefully get some new visitors. I’ll definately try to join in W for W next week, even if it is just one image. Christina

  10. Christina, I’m delighted that you are blogging about foliage too. But I started Foliage Follow-Up nearly a year ago, , and have always encouraged people to post in the week following Bloom Day. So no disrespect intended, but it seems to me you’re trying to create a meme that already exists. It would be as if someone started a Garden Bloggers Flower Day on the 22nd and ignored May Dreams Carol’s original meme. It would be fairer to my original idea if you were to join in with Foliage Follow-Up a week later than to call it something new. All the best, Pam

    • Hi Pam, I’ve approved your comment so that everyone can see how you feel. I didn’t know about your meme when I first came up with the idea and as soon as someone alerted me to yours I left a comment, but received no reply, negative or positive.
      Lots of people have said they find it difficult to write a post the day after GBBD, which is why I initially thought of doing it a week later. I’m still more than happy to link my meme to yours so you will hopefully get some new followers too; many of the posts linked to you as well as to me. As there is no financial gain for either of us from this I feel there is space in the huge garden blogging world for us both I hope you feel the same way.

      • Christina like you I didn’t know about Pam’s meme either and personally feel there is room for all, I like reading your blog and quite frankly do not want to start reading another blog as I don’t get time for all the exisiing ones I want to keep up with, pleased keep your meme I for one will be joining in, Frances

        • Frances, thank you so much for your positive comments and support, I appreciate this a lot as I was a bit disconcerted by Pam at digging’s comments. I’ll see what happens over the next few months. Christina

      • I think you and Pam are both garden designers? And your blogs are a way of marketing your design service? There would be room for both of you, one in Texas, one in Italy.

        For Bloom Day, Gesine in Berlin has started a second meme, she links to Carol May Dreams. You and your readers will find a way.

        Simply Linked would help.

        • Hi, yes I am a designer but the blog is not a marketing tool, it is purely ebout my personal garden. I knew there was another Bloomday blog but diddn’t want to use that as a reason for my Foliage meme. I think you’re right that there are enough bloggers who can choose to take part in which ever memes they like, and when they can. Lots of people have said that the day after GBBD is too soon for them to post about foliage. I also think that foliage is too important for it to be a kind of seconds thought thing. Making it a week later gives it the space and importance it deserves. I have always said I will link back to Pam’s post. I think bloggig is all about sharing; if it’s not that, I’m not sure why we do it. Christina

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  12. Christina I am sorry that I missed this bit I have not been on the computer much recently.

    Lovely foliage and I have put this meme in my dairy for next month …. which actually will be a very interesting exercise for me, as off the top of my head I cannot remember what the foliage in my garden looks like in October – do bare twigs and bleached grasses count! 🙂

    I love foliage and until very recently the flowers were secondary for me, although that may have changed a bit in the last couple of years.

    • Hi Karen, I will look forward to your post next month. Bleached grasss will certailly count and I’m sure there will be lots of other things too. You’ll most likely have autumn colour. Christina

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