GBFD – Evergreens and Greys

At this time of year in the northern hemisphere it is the foliage that sustains interest in the garden.

Yes, there are some flowers and they may be what give us that little flutter of the heart when we see a lone bloom braving the cold to open for us; but that quickening of the heart aside it is the foliage that forms the background to that solitary flower.

A lone bloom of Solanum jasminoidese album, but it is the mass of rich green foliage that you see

A lone bloom of Solanum jasminoidese album, but it is the mass of rich green foliage that you see

Having some evergreen foliage in the garden is a must for winter structure, fading into the background in summer; it demands our attention in winter; with evergreen I include ever-silver which forms much of the structure of my Mediterranean garden.  Lavender, Euphorbia, the Olive trees, these give the bones to my garden and form a gentle background to bleached colours in summer too.

I won’t show you images of the formal garden, you can see that on almost all my recent posts; many of you kindly commented that the images in the snow showed how strong the structure.

Let me show you some of the plants and areas of the garden that are looking particularly good at the moment.

As you come in the gate, the Euphorbia mysenites and small Agave catch the eye

As you come in the gate, the Euphorbia mysenites and small Agave catch the eye

Followed by prostrate Rosemary which is growing to cover the tuffo wall

Followed by prostrate Rosemary which is growing to cover the tuffo wall

As you continue up the drive, Euphorbias attract your attention

As you continue up the drive, Euphorbias attract your attention


A little further up the drive the slope looks like this.  The stream of more prostrate Rosemary has filled out and is now making quite a statement.

Further up still and the view stretches accross the epth of the garden

Further up still and the view stretches accross the depth of the garden

I must admit to being very pleased with the above view of the garden, even in January it is full of colour, texture and form almost all from the foliage plus a few points of interest from some seed heads and berries.


On the other side of the garden Box balls and rounded humps of Thyme give a different structure, sadly the loss of the two larger balls due to the drought last summer have left some gaps that I haven’t decided how to fill, you can just see the indentation where one of the box was planted.

Acanthus mollis under the mulberry tree

Acanthus mollis under the mulberry tree

In summer the area under the Mulberry tree is in deep shade; in winter sun-light filters through the stems and branches of the tree onto the large green leaves of Acanthus mollis.  This plant is a bit of a thug, self-seeding indiscriminately around and with tap roots that dig deep into the rock under the small amount of top-soil.

What pleasure is the foliage in your garden giving you?  What difference is it making in your garden?  To join in please just leave a comment with a link to your post, thank you.

30 thoughts on “GBFD – Evergreens and Greys

    • Thanks for joining in again this month Pauline, sorry I was late getting the post up, things conspired! I love the Box in your front garden, and you have such a wonderful variety of other evergreens, funny how we both started off using almost the same words! Christina

  1. I enjoyed this post. I do not fully use greenery enough to give me winter interest. I’m going to have to work on this. I loved the prostrate rosemary and I have just been given some cuttings but I can see from your pictures a little bit will not give the needed effect.

  2. beautiful as always Christina, I can’t imagine your garden ever lacking interest, even in the drought last summer there was plenty of interest, you are loosing plants to drought and I to wet my Euphorbia mysenites has gone though it was in the dry raised front garden, I haven’t joined in this month as the cold winds have kept me inside, Frances

  3. I was hoping to start joining in with this meme but firstly wasnt sure what date it was and secondly my garden is covered in snow but next month I will try
    I love prostrate rosemary I have a lovely one draped over a wall but having seen yours in more of a border location I think I have somewhere else I might put one

    • Hi Helen, it will be great if you do join in. You can just show one plant with great foliage or show how you use foliage in your garden, or something that is interesting just for a while, like autumn colour or new growth, whatever you like. The date is always the 22nd of the month. I hope your snow clears soon. Christina

  4. Christina, as always I am struck by the beauty of your garden. The varied colors, textures, and forms of the evergreens add interest throughout the year and really stand out in the winter. You also have made me realize that my slope of wildflowers could benefit from some evergreens, so there is interest when the flowers are not in bloom.

    • I’m glad my post gave you an idea for your own garden, just a little evergreen can make a huge difference, you won’t want to detract from the wold flowers in summer. Christina

  5. I’m planning a little bit of garden redesign this year and incorporating more evergreens, structure and form are the ideas. The snow has really highlighted the topiary in my garden, my box balls and yew pyramids, so I have plans to introduce some more and a couple of shrubs. The contrast between your remarkably colourful garden and mine which is still under snow is huge. Can’t wait to get planting again.

  6. Oh rats, I really am disorganised, I missed this again. Have put a reminder in my calendar so that I join in again next month! In the mean time, what a transformation of the slope alongside your driveway, it looks great with all those prostrate rosemarys having filled out so much. You have also confirmed that I definitely want to grow Euphorbia myrsinites in my front garden, it adds such great colour and form to the winter garden. Such a shame about the box balls. I know there are hebes which naturally keep to a neat dome, but would they be sufficiently drought-tolerant?

    • Hi Janet, I can recommend almost any Euphorbia for a sunny dry spot, they look good all year and in spring bring a welcome splash of bright colour. E. myrsinites will grow easily from seed, it seeds around very freely for me. As to the Box balls, I think I might try Yew as long as I give it enough water to establish I think it might be OK, and would be cheaper than Box. Christina

  7. Christina I am officially envious. My garden is depressing after the grasses cut…
    Has tufo been brought to your garden or is it natural? Those rocks looks very natural to me and I love that stream of euphorbia myrsinites and the creeping rosemary.

    • Hi Alberto, the house is built of tuffo and all the land is tuffo, so it I’d all natural, the ground crumbles in my hands, which is a bit worrying, maybe one day the house will just crumble too! Christina

  8. Some beautiful foliage plants Christina and a reminder that foliage is just as important than the flowers perhaps even more so. Sorry to read about the loss of your box balls – I hope that this coming season is kinder. I will try and join in at some point in the future but at the moment the garden is a white blanket 🙂

  9. I love that there is so much to see in your garden in the winter! I added an Ascot Rainbow euphorbia to my garden last fall and it’s remained evergreen, with beautiful variegated foliage. I’m excited to see how it does during the summer.

  10. Christina, I am enjoying your blog and garden so much. I wonder if I could have your permission to re-blog some photos of The Formal Garden from your Dec. 30, 2012, and Sept. 27, 2012, posts? You can reach my blog enclos*ure by clicking on my name above, or email me at Thank you, Cindy

  11. Although you are in the northern hemisphere, your climate must be much warmer in winter. Rosemary doesn’t grow outside here (I could use some right now for my roast chicken) and acanthus is perennial but not frost tolerant. Your garden looks beautiful in winter.

    • I don’t think it is the temperature, those are similar in the UK but further north, I think it is due to light levels, here Acanthus is green in winter, flowers in late spring early summer and then is dormant in the hot part of summer, the new foliage returning in autumn. Christina

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