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

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GBFD – Autumn colour?

I often complain that there is no autumn colour in my garden, but this month I can claim to have some!

At last some colour! This is Persimmon

At last some colour! This is Persimmon

Lonicera, honeysuckle

Lonicera, honeysuckle

Lonicera, honeysuckle has lovely pink leaves at present; they’re hanging on too which is a bonus when even green leaves have been ripped from stems and branches by strong winds.

Lonicera, honeysuckle

Lonicera, honeysuckle

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Melia azedarach is beginning to show some buttery yellow foliage, but these leaves usually fall very quickly to reveal their bright yellow berries, which stand out beautifully again a blue sky.

new foliage on Quercus ilex

New foliage on Quercus ilex

Look how much new foliage the Quercus ilex have put on during autumn, that’s more than in most springs!

Acca sellowiana, Feijoa

Acca sellowiana, Feijoa

Acca sellowiana, Feijoa has also benefited from the warm wet autumn this year; it is better for the plants to put on new growth now rather than in spring as often the plant can’t sustain the foliage put on in spring which might be followed by a very dry July and August as happened this year.  Lots of shrubs and trees put on masses of new growth, more than I’d ever seen before because of the very wet spring but then the new growth shrivelled and died due to the drought in August.  New growth now has time to become strong enough to withstand drought conditions.

Lots of bright new foliage on Buxus, box

Lots of bright new foliage on Buxus, box

What foliage is attracting your attention this month; is it colourful autumn tints or new growth that is making the most impact?

To join GBFD all you need to do is add a comment with a link back to your post; a link in your post to mine is nice, but not a prerequisite.

GBFD – There may be masses of blooms but the Foliage is what holds it all together

The title of this month’s GBFD post says it all really.  When I went into the garden to photograph foliage this morning I thought it might be difficult this month to take images that didn’t feature flowers rather than foliage.  But then as I walked around I was reminded why I had wanted to start GBFD; Foliage is EVERYTHING in a garden.  In some seasons it might be all there is, but when it is spring and the garden shouts with colour and tells me it is truly spring it is the foliage that makes the blooms sing in a harmonious way.

The garden is full of colour, maybe more colour than at any other time of year; yet without the foliage the garden would be nothing!

The structure of the formal garden works all year.  Now supporting the white tulips in the front two beds

The structure of the formal garden works all year. Now supporting the white tulips in the front two beds

Structure, form and shades of green are enough to create a beautiful garden

Structure, form and shades of green are enough to create a beautiful garden

Box needing to be pruned give a slightly wild feel

Box needing to be pruned give a slightly wild feel; the pale green new foliage is too lovely for me to want to remove it

The slope is green in a different way; Stipa tenuissima waves in the wind

The slope is green in a different way; Stipa tenuissima waves in the wind

Silver foliage is a strong part of my Mediterranean garden, the bright spring light makes the silver leaves shimmer and also make a wonderful contrast to Tulip Negrita.

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Various Artemisia and other silver foliage plants

Various Artemisia and other silver foliage plants

Sedum Purple Emperor glows against a santolina

Sedum Purple Emperor glows against a santolina

The purple and almost jade foliage of the Sedum is stunning when it is new

The purple and almost jade foliage of the Sedum is stunning when it is new

Sedum Matrona has pink edges to its leaves which at present are an attraction to many snails

Sedum Matrona has pink edges to its leaves which at present are an attraction to many snails

Festuca glauca highlights the deep purple of Heuchera 'Obsidion'

Festuca glauca highlights the deep purple of Heuchera ‘Obsidion’

The bright spring light bleaches the true deep colour of the Heuchera

The bright spring light bleaches the true deep colour of the Heuchera

Heuchera 'Patty's Plum'

Heuchera ‘Patty’s Plum’

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Remember sometimes to turn your images into tones of grey to help you understand the forms and texture that your plants are creating.

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Some large round leaves would be a good addition here.

I think the form of the foliage here, works well with strappy Iris in the foreground, with Cotinus, santolina and Phlomis.

I think the form of the foliage here, works well with strappy Iris in the foreground, with Cotinus, santolina and Phlomis and a tall stand of Cerinthe in the background.

New foliage on a Mahonia

New foliage on a Mahonia

There is of course the pattern and colour you enjoy only when getting close.

A lot of new foliage is pink or red and not green

A lot of new foliage is pink or red and not green.  I think this is just amazing

and the foliage of wild lupin is a wonderful patter

and the foliage of wild lupin is a wonderful pattern

Nandina's new foliage is as colourful as any flower

Nandina domestica’s new foliage is as colourful as any flower

Hedges are very important for the form and texture they provide in the garden, the back of my garden Has Photinia, giving orangey-red new foliage which emphasises the colour of Tulips Brown Sugar and gives a good background to the rest of the garden always.

The large tree on the left is a White Mulberry

The large tree on the left is a White Mulberry

Please feel free to use GBFD in your own way; to maybe highlight one plant that is making an impact this month in your garden or to show the combinations that work for you.  Please post and add a link to your comment.  I really look forward to seeing what is happening in other gardens.  I hope you are enjoying spring as much as I am.

First Frost

We had our first frost of the winter on Saturday.  I didn’t take any photos, sorry.

It was very cold when I first went outside at about 8 am, but during the morning it warmed up so that it was a pleasure to be outside.  I planted a small area which has dissatisfied me for some time.  A very large Datura was planted here (spreading to about 3m x 3m); it looked interesting in the evenings when the white flowers opened, but they closed again and died as soon as the sun reached them in the morning.  In winter it died back completely leaving a very bare patch.  We see this area from the part of the terrace which is shady at lunch time and is protected from the west wind – so we often sit here.

The Datura in July 2008

I have for some time admired plantings of box, trimmed into balls forming ‘cloud’ effects.  This seems the ideal place in the garden for just such a planting – not too large (therefore not too expensive) and needing evergreen interest.

The new planting

Although this area is in full view of one part of the terrace it is behind a pomegranate tree and so not visible when walking up the path by the left hand border, I like this element of surprise.  I have planted strategically a Miscanthus gigantean which forms a back drop to the box and will form part of the picture of the planting I always enjoy in the LH border.  I also planted a Teucrium fruticans which I will prune into a large sphere (a cheaper option than a very large box.  I transplanted a couple of Thyme that needed to be transplanted from another part of the garden as they seem to grown naturally into a sphere; they can be removed when the box needs more space.  There is a rosemary planted close by and I have pruned that into a ball to add to the scheme.