Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day – Earth Day

Welcome to GBFD for April.  Usually I have decided what aspect of foliage I will write about for my monthly meme where I ask you to think of the foliage in your gardens rather than the flowers.  This would seem a big ask in April when our spring gardens are bursting with colour from bulbs and many emerging perennials.  

When I woke this morning I read Eliza’s post about Earth Day, which made me realise that one aspect of foliage I haven’t written about is its role in using carbon dioxide in the photosynthesis process and therefore helping to reduce the greenhouse gasses which are causing our planet to warm which will ultimately make the Earth unsuitable to support life as we know it.  The dinosaurs before us became extinct because of changes in the climate so it is unreasonable to think that we will fare any better – and it is us that have changed the climate, not an outside occurrence as it was for the dinosaurs!

Just think, if every person on the planet planted a tree, how much carbon dioxide would be reduced; so while you enjoy your gardens today think about what you could plant that might just make a difference to the future of the planet.

We have had three nights of sub zero Centigrade temperatures (this is very, very unusual for Mid-April in Italy).  Walking around the garden yesterday afternoon to take some photographs for today’s post I was shocked to see that the foliage, of a grapevine planted last year, had turned black as had most of the foliage on the newly emerging Dahlias that had quite happily over-wintered in the ground when there were temperatures of minus 8 or 9 for a considerable time.

I was also slightly surprised (but shouldn’t have been) that even with so much colour in the garden it wasn’t difficult to see that much of the beauty in the garden is supplied by the structure, form, texture and varying colours of the foliage rather than by the flowers.

My usual view for Foliage Day at the top of the Drive border, there are Cistus and Thyme flowers but I think the forms are the most important part of this view

Looking across the Large Island from the edge of the drive

Sedum foliage can be depended on to look great all summer, no matter how hot it becomes

Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’

Silver foliage sparkles against a dark evergreen background

This morning even the wisteria foliage looked limp from the icy night, thank goodness the flowers are now over for a while

Although the light is very bright in this image I think you can see that it is cold

I hope you will be inspired to join GBFD this month, if you are please leave a link to and from this post in the usual way.  I look forward to reading your posts.


46 thoughts on “Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day – Earth Day

    • Thanks for participating this month in FBFD Steve. It is very unusual to have frost in April in this part of Italy (hail is more likely to cause damage than frost). Bays are much tougher, if in free draining soil, than most books in the UK suggest. I have bay hedges around much of the garden and they didn’t suffer in our very cold winter, but if yours have only just gone outside I think I would try to protect them with some fleece.

  1. We have colder weather coming, our warm spell is coming to an end. I’ve not put anything tender out yet thank goodness, we can still get frosts until mid May even down in Devon.
    I love all the different shapes your plants make in your garden, that is just as interesting as the foliage and flowers.

  2. No frosts here, but some very cold winds which have delayed the blossom on cherries and apple trees. You are right about foliage- I’m especially enjoying my silver leaved euonymus and a silver buddleia. Dark elders provide a contrast.

    • I fear this cold weather will have damaged many crops including vines, apricots and peaches, not just mine but commercially too. Some people can to visit the garden to see the tulips (a few weeks ago) and gave me a pot with 5 rooted cuttings of the lovely dark Elder, I have fingers crossed that I can grow them on during the summer so they can be planted out in autumn.

  3. An interesting post and lovely pictures. It looks like the temperature could be down to zero here a couple of mornings next week. If it is then it’s likely some plants will be affected and get frosted. xx

    • My Sambucus doesn’t really get as much water as it would like so there isn’t really any foliage to spare for a vase but I love having it anyway and if I do have more in future I’ll try to treat them as medium shrubs rather than trees.

  4. Christina her garden is beautiful and very grown up. I love the silvery foliage over the dark green foliage background and the Cistus and Thyme in bloom. I like everything. Late frosts are devastating with plants: luckily the Wisteria has been saved. I was delighted to hear that gardeners are morally obliged to plant at least one tree to counteract carbon dioxide. I totally agree with you. I can not show you my garden, I’m still living in Madrid. Greetings from Margarita.

      • Christina the doctors told me that I have three discs of three vertebrae followed from the spine to the lumbar severely damaged. From there I get all the pain and there is no cure, well yes, the surgery is to change them for some titanium and a plate also screwed titanium to join the vertebrae with the titanium discs. But it hurts more with the surgery done. I know it from my brother-in-law. I will hold the discs badly until there is danger that they will touch the marrow. Then I will operate. Thank you very much for your concern. He’s very kind. Greetings from Margarita.

  5. I’ve long admired your vertical accents and varied foliage textures. Your garden has good bones!
    I’m sorry to hear about your late frosts. This is one of my major concerns about climate change. Many areas globally are experiencing rapid warm-ups after winter to entice bud break, followed by a hard freeze. Georgia (US state) lost more than 90% of its peach crop last month, so heartbreaking for farmers and consumers (other than local peaches, which we similarly lost last year, I favor them over CA). I’m worried as they are forecasting summer temps next week, which will encourage the peaches and plums locally. Our frost free date is mid-May. Fingers crossed. Wild weather is predicted to get worse. How much stress can these trees and plants take? God help us!
    Thanks sincerely for the shout-out and link. I liked your suggestion that we plant more trees. It is a good plan. India planted 50 million trees in 24 hours last year – so it can be done!

    • As I said before I think all your suggestions are very helpful. Climate change or as i sometimes call it “climate craziness” is scary. If my grapevine has black foliage (it was only planted last year so isn’t a strong plant yet) I far for all the commercial grape growers here in Italy. I read that growers in the UK put candles all around their vineyards in the hope of protecting the newly formed fruit.

      • Smudge pots and misting helps. I think we’re going to have to go that route to preserve crops in the future, which of course, will impact the price we pay for food. But what choice is there?

  6. Global weirding.
    For us drought. I see some dead shrubs as I walk home. The exotics that were used to life support watering.
    I have two more trees waiting to be planted. Spekboom is our carbon capture plant, ideal for ‘box’ hedges and the cuttings can be laid down as mulch.

    • Yes, global weirding is the correct term; climate change means intensity of weather so more flooding, more extremes of heat and cold. Well done for planting more trees Diana.

  7. I must go and read Eliza’s post – her statistic of India planting 50 million trees in 24 hours is astonishing. I find having a weather app on my phone really useful as I check it more than once a day, at the moment mostly to see when we are likely to get some rain (not till Tuesday) but also the overnight temps – it has been interesting to see that the coldest part of the night is invariably just before dawn. We are due to go down to about 1 degree overnight mid next week. I hope the low temps haven’t affected anything permamently in your garden – what you say about the possible effects on commercial growers makes you think though… My foliage post from a very dry UK Midlands on what has been the sunniest day of the year so far is here:

    • I check the weather app constantly too; before planting out the tomatoes on Good Friday I checked several times a day for most of that week; just as I planted the last of the 20 Roma, I checked again only to find the forecast had changed completely and the frosts for the last few nights was suddenly forecast. The weather can change quite suddenly here; it has been explained to me why, but I don’t really understand!!! I’m most worried about the grapevine and the Dahlias. Thanks for your contribution this month Cathy.

      • Are you in a windy spot? It is the wind that changes the weather systems so the direction they come from makes a big difference, as does your topography. Will you be fleecing your tomatoes and dahlias?

        • I think it is because we are quite near the coast, but not close enough to make the weather milder! Yes, the tomatoes I’ve planted are fleeced; the Dahlias will have to fend for themselves!! I think the coldest weather has past now because, yes, the wind is now coming mostly from the south.The garden is very windy indeed whether from the south, west or north, northeast!!!!!!

    • Hopefully that was the last of the sub-zero temperatures for this season, although for the next week night temperatures are still quite low; I won’t plant out the rest of the tomatoes until the end of the week but will continue to harden them off during the days. Thanks for joining GBFD again this month.

    • Hi Tina; structure has become one of my most important features in this garden, I think I have been influenced by the historic Renaissance gardens that are near here as well as La Louvre in France. Good to see another GBFD post from you this month, thank you for participating.

  8. I just saw a nighttime photo of smudge pots lighting up the rows of grapes throughout a valley in Switzerland. It look beautiful but I hope it was enough to fight off damage.
    We’ve had late frosts like that for the past two years and I’m amazed at how hardy some plants were and how damaged others became. My wisteria had all the leaves damaged but of course quickly grew new ones, a rose completely died, and the strawberry flowers were ruined. Lets hope it’s not the “new” thing…
    I always enjoy your foliage day posts but I’m not sure I’ll pull my own together this month. I’ve been spending too much time in the garden which is great, but the photos have all been terrible. One last try tomorrow though 😉

    • I’m glad you enjoy my foliage day posts; it is becoming more difficult to find a different angle to talk about each month. Late frosts are the worst thing (hail storms too of course); newly emerging foliage is so tender that it really knocks the plants back if they turn black and they may not recover. I saw my local DIY store had Dahlias on offer for €1 on Friday, but that was before I’d seen that mine had turned black! I may go back to see what they have!

  9. So far, it seems that your garden is mostly taking the temperature fluctuations in stride, Christina – it looks beautiful! The only consistency from one area of the world to another seems to be the extremes we’re all experiencing. You’ve been hit by unexpected frosts; the Pacific Northwest seems to be perpetually wet; and here, the heat has suddenly spiked. We’ve had temperatures near 90F the last 2 days and some of the inland areas of Southern California are hotter still. In addition to being very hot, we’re very, very dry – my snapdragons and Iceland poppies are withering fast and summer bloomers like the Agapanthus are already sending up buds.

    • It’s been dry here too; no rain for the last three weeks except a few drops when we were supposed to have a storm. Rain is forecast for later this week but who knows if it will arrive. How amazing that your Agapanthus are already in bud.

  10. Your garden is looking beautiful, despite the sudden changes in weather. Global warming has been more evident over the past several years with the erratic changes in climate and weather patterns we have been experiencing all over the world. It seems our winters are milder and springs are colder, with vast fluctuations of temperatures from day to day. I like your thought of everyone planting a tree and as a gardener and designer have done so over and over again!

  11. We have also suffered from some sub-zero overnights which is not so odd here but it is when coupled with the highs we are experiencing. I see what you are creating with the different heights of the plants. More difficult than even the different foliage colours. Amelia

    • As the garden is usually pretty much without flowers for July and August it is important that interest is created by the form in the garden. I’m pleased that at last as the plants grow I’m beginning to see what I was aiming at.

  12. It’s true that the foliage adds structure and form, something I think we learn as we garden. There are so many shades and colours to choose from. Sorry to hear that you are losing things to the cold. We have to be constantly on our toes. Here is my late link including a tree, by coincidence, which we are about to plant. I’ve planted 3 this year. One was nibbled by deer but is still alive and producing leaves.

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