GBFD – February – Foliage is my garden’s structure

As this first image shows, the formal beds gain all their structure from the foliage of the chipped box and lavender; in the Renaissance there was a balance in a garden between Art and Nature, the natural (always strictly under control) and the manmade often imitating nature to the extent that sometimes the viewer was unsure if something was Nature or Art.  One of the ways that plants could be like art was by being tightly clipped so that the shadow thrown was as crisp and strong as that thrown by a wall.  You can see the idea here with lower late afternoon light on the lavender and box.

The formal garden, box and lavender

The formal garden, box and lavender

I don’t usually like shrubs chipped within an inch of their lives so that they lose their natural form but in the upper drive border I am enjoying just that, the mounds of Cistus, Phlomis and lavender give a rhythm broken in places where spikes of Iris push up or where grasses wave in the breeze to break the solid forms.  Cistus and Phlomis always form humpy shapes so I’m not really changing their form much just emphasising it.

Cistus, lavender, holly and Arbutus

Cistus, lavender, holly and Arbutus


Another one of those sun beams cutting across the scene

Another one of those sun beams cutting across the scene

Cistus, lavender, holly and Arbutus

Cistus, lavender, holly and Arbutus

How do you prune your shrubs?  What foliage is shining in your garden today?  I’d love to see, why not write a post with a link back to me here and then leave a comment with the link to your post.  Spring is on its way in many gardens so you might just want to share some beautiful new shoots.

Sedum foliage

Sedum foliage

New Sedum foliage captures a glistening drop of water

New Sedum foliage captures a glistening drop of water


26 thoughts on “GBFD – February – Foliage is my garden’s structure

  1. I love the different shades of green and texture in your formal garden. I’m not keen on topiary and clipped hedges when everything is the same uniform dull green. But it looks great they way you have done it.
    Talking about art and the garden we have had some lively debate on the subject, why don’t you check out my last post and give us your views?

  2. In the photo with the sun beam the humpy cistus seem to echo the form of the hills beyond. Love that. You’ve done a really great job of integrating your garden into the landscape Christina.

    • Thanks Pauline, you’re quite right it doesn’t seem like winter at all this year, although we are promised some colder temperatures this week. Thank you for joining in again this month.

  3. hello Christina, your garden looks so beautiful with all your lovely foliage and sunshine, thanks for starting and hosting this meme as without it I would not have ventured out for a walk round the garden today and so would still not know just how much is growing, I’m afraid my post is rather long but for me it is so unusual to have so much to post about and probably won’t happen again, here’s my link:
    thanks again, Frances

  4. Just got in from pruning shrubs et al – it was such a glorious day. My favourites are Phlomis purpurea and fruticosa for their neat, rounded shape and for looking splendid all year. I like the movement in your borders, waves and all 🙂

    • Thanks for joining in this month Cathy. I’m glad the meme helps you appreciate foliage more, I do firmly believe that it is impossible to have a satisfyingly good garden without thinking about how the foliage works!

  5. Hi Christina, finally I have been organised enough to post about foliage too. Thanks again for hosting this, the importance of foliage is consistently under appreciated, I think, whether used formally clipped as a contrast to the looser plants around or just in contrasting textures. Oh, and movement, I am so appreciating the role of movement in the garden now that I have such a windy site! I love the clipped shapes you use, both in the formal space and the more informal slope. I’m not sure I would have the self discipline to keep it up, but I do enjoy appreciating it in your garden.

  6. A busy day here so I didn’t get a chance to put together anything for GBFD, but I enjoyed reading about yours and the fellow bloggers’ foliage. Your formal garden is stunning.

  7. No foliage at all except for the evergreens. I try a variety of approaches to pruning. I try to keep shrubs natural-looking, if not really natural. I have a number of plants that straddle the line between shrubs and small trees. These I generally limb up to emphasize their tree-ness and open up the ground beneath for ground covers and flowers.

  8. Sometime in later April we will see foliage again. I love your evergreens and how they add so much to your garden. For me I have a few small ones. I may add a few more in coming years. Of course some of mine, like lavender, are covered by snow.

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