GBFD – April Exuberance

Spring came early this year, already most of the tulips are over and roses and Irises are taking their place; yet despite the quantity of blooms in the garden it is foliage that still takes pride of place in my eyes.

There is a good reason for this; even though there are large numbers of different plants flowering, the percentage of the garden that they represent is still small in comparison to the foliage!

This is the first year that the box pyramids have been covered with new growth; it just shows how long a large specimen takes to establish, these were planted in April 2008. With the knowledge I have now I would have planted them in autumn which would have meant that they established more quickly.

Newly planed box

Newly planed box

Interesting I’ve just noticed that the Photinia in this image doesn’t have red new growth, I think it must be intensified when they are pruned and there is a lot of new growth because this image was taken in April 2008 when it had never been pruned.

Looking out of the bedroom window at a sea a different greens

Looking out of the bedroom window at a sea a different greens

In the above image you can see just how important the foliage is in the garden despite the tulips in the spring walk that are just visible in the background and the Choisya in the Left hand border the scene is purely foliage; the new green of box, the silver of the lavender hedges and the new green (at present) foliage of Perovskia. The trees are now into leaf and the Photinia hedge is showing its new growth which is red; this part of the hedge was pruned late so there are very few flowers, while in other parts of the garden the all-pervasive perfume of the flowers fills the air.

Here in full sun the Photinia has more flowers but there are more still on the other side of the fence where it hasn't been pruned

Here in full sun the Photinia has more flowers but there are more still on the other side of the fence where it hasn’t been pruned

Just one moment when the perovskia are the same height as the lavender, I like the effect it creates

Just one moment when the perovskia are the same height as the lavender, I like the effect it creates

There are some plants I grow just for their foliage to the extent that I remove the flower buds before they open as the colour of the flowers clashes with the subtlety of the leaves; these include most Santolina and some Artemisia such as A. ‘Valerie Finnis’.

A. ‘Valerie Finnis’, with the flower stem cut off

A. ‘Valerie Finnis’, with the flower stem cut off

Acanthus spinosa under the Mulberry

Acanthus spinosa under the Mulberry some are a little hail damaged

The view from the seat above

The view from the seat above

I don't remember this Trachelospemum ever having such bright new foliage, in the morning light it appears almost yellow

I don’t remember this Trachelospemum ever having such bright new foliage, in the morning light it appears almost yellow

Do you have plants you grow just for the beauty of the foliage? Do you consider the foliage when you buy a flowering plant? To join with GBFD please include a link back to this post and leave a comment here with the link to your post. I always look forward to reading what you think and what is important to you at the moment.

While I was taking the images for this post I spotted a butterfly I don’t think I’ve seen before.

Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi

Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi

33 thoughts on “GBFD – April Exuberance

  1. You do such a nice job mixing the colors and textures of the foliage, and I love the structure of the garden. You’re right about how long it takes the box to fill in. Mine just wants to grow up and I’m having trouble convincing it to fill in at the bottom. Eventually it will come!
    I love how this post goes back over the history of your garden, it’s amazing to see what you’ve developed in such a short time and I admire your confidence in developing areas in full strokes such as the perovskia and lavender beds… my garden is much more piecemeal!
    I look for foliage that lasts or at least disappears quickly. I hate the lingerers that look beat up yet just don’t have enough sense to die off or resprout. Some daylilies come to mind with yellowing foliage and a meesy look for half the growing season.

    • Thanks Frank, some of the reason I plant as I do is that I am a project person. I like a beginning, middle and end; I’m not so good at long term just keeping it going. Most of my Hemerocallis foliage lasts quite well; if its bad you can cut it back almost to the ground and it will leaf up again and look good in autumn.

  2. You have such good structure to your garden Christina, which is so pleasing to the eye even when there aren’t any flowers to enjoy. Foliage is with us for far longer than flowers and I think more people are coming to appreciate it. Thanks for hosting Foliage Day once more, my link is-

  3. You’ve done a beautiful job of creating structure using plants in your garden, Christina! I’ve been paying much more attention to foliage since we acquired our current 1/2 acre garden 3 years ago. I was lucky to inherit a lot of nice trees and hedges with the property but, as I pull out lawn and expand beds, I’m trying to avoid my prior addiction to flowers.

    • Flowers are wonderful, the problem is they are fleeting pleasures whereas the foliage can be important every day of the year. It isn’t just out foliage plants but the foliage on the flowering plants too. It can add or detract so is worth considering when deciding which plants to include in a border or combination.

  4. Your parterre is absolutely stunning! It has obviously taken a lot of patience, to get to this stage. I’m intrigued by your use of Perovskia as the infill. It’s one of my favourites. It fulfills two of my passions – grass gardens and scent. I imagine it will look amazing when it flowers. Please show us!

  5. I would love to sit on that chair next to the Acanthus and enjoy the view across the lavenders and perovskia. I don’t think I’ve seen this angle before and the whole formal garden is simply gorgeous. Such a lovely garden Christina!

    • Thank you Cathy; I’m sure I must have shown the view before, but perhaps not. The garden feels like it is a mature garden this year, and is beginning to look how I imagined it would when I began working on it in 2007.

  6. Christina, this is lovely, I do not think I have seen these views before, it must be very rewarding to have been so disciplined with your record keeping and posts. Was there any garden there when you first arrived?

    • Theye are fewer photos before I started the blog but I always kept a photo-record of major planting. No, there was no garden here, just a form of couch grass with roots more like convulvulus! The olives were here as were most of the cypress and the mulberry plus goodness knows how many walnut trees (there are only two of those remaining, oh and a fig (my favourite fruit).

  7. Nice view to have from your bedroom, I’m glad to say mine isn’t bad either ;). Of course, I grow lots of plants for foliage as it’s so much more important than flowers. Pittosporum, Euphorbia, Berberis, Stachys…so much to love!

  8. I’m not a very focused on foliage generally, although this time of year forces me to think about foliage more while I wait for most of the flowers. We’re at a very different place in the season as most of our foliage is still very new. I love the seat under the mulberry backed by the Acanthus leaves, and I am very jealous of your lavender hedges. Lavender just doesn’t seem to be very happy here without special attention. The fragrance must be wonderful. Eager to see the Perovskia in flower also. Here is my tardy contribution to GBFD:

  9. That trachelospernum looks stunning Christina, and I would love to be able to sit on that bench and admire the view, it is rather special with the lavendar and perovskia all level like that, it looks as if you have been over the whole space with a giant pair of shears! What spacing have you got the perovskia at? I am trying to work out how best to use my three, and am eagerly waiting for there to be enough new shoots to try for some cuttings to make more. I’m a day late and a little different with my foliage post this month, but it is there now, thank you again for hosting this, I always really enjoy it, even more so when I manage to join in!

    • I spaced my perovskia too close, they grow very quickly, they grow to about a metre accross here, maybe a bit less for you. You might also find they flop if you have a lot of rain, mine don’t have that problem! they strike very easily from cuttings and are easier that way than trying to dig up self seeders (they put down a tap root so quickly and if that is damaged they don’t survive long! Thanks for joining in this month.

      • Thanks Christina, sounds as if I might have trouble moving mine already if they put down tap roots that fast! One in a nearby garden seems to be around 60cm across, which is what I based my spacing on, but I guess I will find out… Good to know they root easily from cuttings, I have managed to take some successful cuttings from my Anthemis which is encouraging, I must have learnt something after all.

    • I’m surprised you don’t think more about foliage Donna, there must be lots of plants that would give you foliage interest through your hard winters with maybe flowers during a different season.

  10. I’m just starting to think about the different colours of the foliage and notice how important it is. Your hairstreak photograph is beautiful and there is a little honey bee hiding in the background. Amelia

  11. Christina your foliage always looks wonderful and living in a warmer climate fresh foliage comes much earlier and last longer,
    I read about foliage and structure in the garden especially for winter but it just doesn’t work with strong sea gales, if it was still light then as I write I would see the bare branches of my evergreen privet hedge, from the kitchen window I see the needles on the pines turn brown and fall, many evergreens are deciduous here, some of the trees and perennials are starting to leaf out but some don’t until May this far north, I am learning that it is coloured stems of dogwood and willow, dry ornamental grasses and some evergreen grasses that create colour and structure in the salt windswept garden,
    so I enjoy your foliage garden virtually, Frances

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