GBFD A little magic with light

Welcome to Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, where we celebrate all kinds of foliage, green, evergreen, silver, gold or red.

As the forecast for today wasn’t great I decided to photograph the garden on Wednesday.  The first images were taken in the morning when there was a weak wintery sun.  I selected some parts of the garden that for some reason are rarely featured or are the background to some feature I wish to talk about.

Just as I was beginning to write I glanced out of the kitchen window and saw that the late afternoon sun was illuminating the garden.  I grabbed the camera, and managed to capture a few magic moments.

Some foliage that had appeared drab green in the morning positively shone; red foliage of Nandina domestica glowed and the stark nude forms of fading Perovskia stood ghostly white.

The Upper Drive Border is predominantly evergreens of various shades

The Upper Drive Border is predominantly evergreens of various shades

The Upper Drive is mainly Mediterranean shrubs, mostly evergreen and mostly pruned to create a cohesive planting.  All of the shrubs have flowers but it is their form and foliage that earn them their place in this border.

The upper drive from a slightly different angle

The upper drive from a slightly different angle

The path that is part of the View West from the terrace

The path that is part of the View West from the terrace

In the image below, taken in late afternoon, the sun shining on Nandina domestica and Elaeagnus stems brings the scene to life.

The same view  in late afternoon light

The same view in late afternoon light

Acanthus mollis looks at its shiny best at this time of year, with Fatsia japonica growing well in the background

Acanthus mollis looks at its shiny best at this time of year, with Fatsia japonica growing well in the background

A symphony of green under the Mulberry.

In the wet conditions the usually totally silver Cerastium tomentosum is bright green

In the wet conditions the usually totally silver Cerastium tomentosum is bright green

Agapanthus foliage behind the Cerastium has been damaged by frost, but the plants will recover.

Nandina domestica with Arbutus

Nandina domestica with Arbutus in the Large Island

The sun picks out every leaf, every stem of grass and every red berry.

Looking across the formal beds to the Melia azedarach

Looking across the formal beds to the Melia azedarach in the Left hand border

Panicum virgatum 'Skyscraper' (not that tall in my garden but looking great this year.

Panicum virgatum ‘Skyscraper’ (not that tall in my garden but looking great this year in the Large Island.

Another Nandina domestica with Phlomis fruticosa seedheads and ghostly stems of Perovskia

Another Nandina domestica with Phlomis fruticosa seed-heads and ghostly stems of Perovskia

The Perovskia almost appears as if it were in flower in this light.

Every month I like to emphasize the importance of foliage in all gardens whether they are designed around evergreens or if the perennials are the main feature how the foliage of those plants is as important as the flowers.  But perhaps it is the enjoyment of a few moments when everything sings because of the light is something we can all celebrate whatever our gardening style.

If you would like to share some special foliage please link your post in the comments here with a link to this post in yours.  Perhaps you have a plant that has been highlighted by sun shining on frost, or a tree or shrub decorated with snow; do share what foliage you are enjoying in your garden today.

As it is Thursday, the Slope also needs to be included so here are a couple of images.  Eschscholzia californica are growing more and covering more ground; and the grey wet days have made some of the silver foliage plants look very green.

The usual view

The usual view

I need to prune the branch sticking out of the Cypress

Everything is growing, the soil is almost hidden again

Everything is growing, the soil is almost hidden again

The image taken in the afternoon makes everything look different.

The image taken in the afternoon makes everything look different.

I’m looking forward to reading your posts.


63 thoughts on “GBFD A little magic with light

    • I know just what you mean about sludge in southern England but you will have some sunny days when you’ll appreciate the magic. One of the things I love most about living in Italy is the light.

  1. Pingback: GBFD – Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’ | Railway Parade House and Garden

    • I love everything about grasses! For the movement they add to the garden first of all but also their architectural value. Thanks for joining in again this month Matt and I’m sure it won’t be humble at all.

    • There are lots of new varieties available now too, but they don’t all flower and produce berries (I think they were bred for some States in the UK where it is invasive. Look out for the ones that have the narrow bamboo-like foliage, the rounder foliage ones seem to be the ones that are infertile. It isn’t invasive here or in the UK, I wish it would seed around and grow but not one ever has!

  2. I love that moment when everything starts to grow and the bare ground is covered again. You are ahead of the south west UK-it will be another 8 weeks here although bulbs are pushing through. Love the textures and contrasts you’ve combined in your garden.

  3. Pingback: rusty duck – Frost

    • Thank you Jessica, I have put that image as the screensaver on my laptop, I loved the effect too. Thank you for joining in GBFD with such wonderful images of frost on your foliage. Some including the fern were breathtaking.

    • Nandina is becoming one of my favourite plants now that mine have grown and are making a statement. I want to search out some of the new varieties. thank you for joining GBFD again this month Pauline, you always have something beautiful to share with us.

    • As you say your garden is looking very different in the frost or rather ice, I hope everything survives. Thank you for joining GBFD this month, with some fascinating images.

  4. It is amazing the difference the play of light can have on a plant–your photos demonstrate that well. The “View West” comparison is especially striking. The photo with the Nandina and Perovskia has such a beautiful contrast of color–very nice combination. I can’t grow Perovskia, though others in Austin do and it was in my mother’s gardens, further south in Texas on the Gulf Coast. I think I have too much shade for that plant–I have to content myself with enjoying it in other gardens. Thanks for hosting and here’s my contributions for GBFD:

    • Yes, you’re right Perovskia is a plant that likes full sun and free draining soil, perfect in my garden. Light is so important not just in gardens but in rooms too! Thank you for joining GBFD this month.

  5. It’s all lovely, especially the Nandina, the Panicum and the view across the formal garden. I should like a Panicum at some stage, but can’t decide which one, as there are so many pretty ones! How tall does yours get? The name implies it gets pretty tall…

    • This Panicum should get very tall but it doesn’t in my garden because it doesn’t get enough water (even though as a group Panicums are pretty drought tolerant). If you want one that is upright in form but not too tall try P. ‘Heavy Metal’.

  6. Pingback: Garden Bloggers Foliage Day: a Bad Dose of the Measles! | Rambling in the Garden

    • I really can’t recommend Nandina highly enough. The delicate white flowers are already in bud and last for ages on the shrub, the foliage is beautiful in all seasons changing from pinky bronze in spring though bright green and then red when temperatures drop. Don’t be tempted by the round leaved varieties that don’t flower and don’t change to such good colours, the form of these is not so lovely. Thanks for joining in again this month Cathy.

  7. I love the muted colors in your landscape because of the softness and reliability of your sun. The glow of the nandinas is exquisite. When there is a symphony of grey–as in Portland, Oregon, we seem to need a bit more color. But how I admire your landscape and what you have done!

  8. You have captured the winter light so beautifully in these photos Christina – as you say the right must be one of many beautiful aspects of life in Italy. I love the combination of acanthus and fatsia – I have a mature fatsia and might steal your idea and add some acanthus to the border. I also love the perovskia – its ghostly appearance is breathtaking.

    My contribution for this month is at: – most but not all the photos were taken this month – I hope it is ok to use some older photographs to illustrate changes?

    • No problem at all in using images from other months in these foliage posts, Julie. If you do grow Acanthus, and it is lovely, be sure to remove the flower heads before they set seed, it can be quite invasive! They make exciting cut flowers, very architectural.

  9. Running behind, but managing to join the meme again today as I really appreciate the emphasis on foliage. Your nandina is spectacular, but what I really like at the moment is the ground cover plants you have filling out the beds and softening the ground. I plan to put mine in after the bigger structural plants are in, but I really miss the effect as yet! It’s also good to see how effective the “spent” stems – such as your perovskia – can be; I must give some thought to that…
    My own post is up at

    • You’re right to wait until the other plants begin to establish before planting ground-cover to close but you can plant further away as they make their own statement not just as a cover for the soil. They certainly help cut down the weeds growing which is the bonus. Thanks for joining in GBFD this month Amy.

  10. Your late afternoon light does indeed make everything glow Christina. Your Perovskia is wonderful in all seasons – for reasons I don’t understand, I’ve been utterly unsuccessful growing it here. I’ll have to try it in another setting.

  11. Lovely pics, the foliage of the cerastium looks so different to how I know it. Is it a special variety? The Melia looks stunning – I have only a handful of berries on mine but it’s such a strong grower. Nandina really creates a firework.

  12. Pingback: Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day – January 2015 | Duver Diary

  13. Hi Christina – that Nandina domestica’s lovely – that’s a new one for me, thank you.
    And your Perovskias look fabulous. I have one paltry plant, but would really like more. You’re right, they’re much better in drifts. I’ve seen that Chilterns sell seed – perhaps that’s the way to increase my collection. Have you ever grown them from seed?
    Anyway, here’s my January, GBFD. Sorry it’s a day late!
    And thanks for hosting.

    • Hi, welcome to GBFD, My Perovskia do self seed and if I am quick to lift them before their tap root has grown, they will develop well. I’ve never collected seed to grow them because I have so many. they are also easy from cuttings if you want more than one I would buy one plant and use that to produce all the plants you want.

  14. Pingback: The Beauty of Foliage | Forest Garden

  15. I love the shoots of the formal beds with the ghostly white stems, I look forward to by perovskia making a strong statement through the winter. I am totally in love with the Nandina, has to be the single best purchase I made last year, like yours, mine glows. That pannicum looks wonderful, I have dreams of planting panicum in the front garden if I ever get the other half cleared. And as ever, your garden is a beautiful demonstration of the value of evergreen structure to knit everything together. Sorry not to join in this month.

  16. Those Nandinas are the real star of the show this winter I think Christina. I just wish mine had changed colour in autumn. It was new last spring but I would have expected it to turn.
    I love the wintery feel you have managed to capture in your images, you’ve so much green that adds interest everywhere.
    Glad I was able to find time to join in this month. A big thank you for hosting.

    • Is your Nandain domestica or one of the new hybrids that I don’t think change colour as much, or maybe you haven’t had enough cold yet; mine really only changed colour in late December. Thank you for joining in GBFD this month Angie.

  17. I think I love the perovskia stems most of all this month. You have really captured the light perfectly and they seem to have a new life even though the rest of the garden finally looks like winter….. unless that’s only because iris blooms aren’t displayed this week!
    I keep trying to join in but things are so busy at the moment. Maybe if the snow recedes I can find something for January 🙂

    • The Nadina is in the Upper Drive border (just) while the Perovskia in these images is on the slope. It is interesting how at different times one notices different combinations.

  18. Wonderful! Late afternoon is my favorite time in the garden; the light is pure magic. Your Nandina domestica s gorgeous. Here it is invasive, and I have tried to eliminate it from my garden, unsuccessfully. A little part of me is glad of that. It is so pretty!

    • A lot of new Nandina have been bred that aren’t invasive; they are infertile, some don’t even flower (which is sad as then of course there are no berries). This past weekend the light has been more beautiful each afternoon, I’m looking forward to it now.

  19. Pingback: sprig to twig » Blog Archive » triple play: ffu, gbfd and garden favorite

  20. If we ever get an early thaw before spring I will be joining in again….for now I can look at these wonderful views of the upper driveway and the view west….I like how these evergreens blend together perfectly.

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