I wanted to begin this meme, which I do hope many of you will join because I think most of us underestimate the important role fulfilled by the form, texture and different colours of the foliage of the plants that fill our gardens.
When you consider it; what you actually see in the garden is probably 80% foliage and only 20% blooms. I accept that what we see is the flowers but even then if the foliage around them is not pleasing then even the flowers won’t look their best.
I’d like to explain with images of my garden why I think we should take more time choosing plants not only on the basis of their flower colour, how long they flower for, and their perfume (hopefully); but the overall effect of the foliage: it’s texture; the detail for the leaves, and its colour. Sometimes foliage colour can make or break a planting combination and if the foliage colour does harmonise or contrast with the flowers it can make the flowers themselves look muddy.
I’m going to begin with what is one of my favourite parts of my garden. This is the Left Hand Border, the section nearest the house. I think it looks good at almost all times of year.
If you look at the photo, you’ll see that actually probably more than 80% is green, Yes there are some flowers – two kind of Sedum are flowering now and the ever present Verbena (ground-cover) has has some blooms but for the rest it is the texture and colour of the foliage that make this an interesting angle of the garden. Beginning on the LHS is a pomegranate, next to this in the back ground is a bay hedge (so always green and a sense form, a great background plant) in front of this is Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’, then Sedum Matrona, then Festuca glauca ( this is a signature plant in the garden, always planted in three’s I some them in every border), by the side of this in the foreground is the Verbena. Then a tree which was in the garden when we purchased the property with next to it the broad leaves of a Canna, They are usually taller than this; to the front are the strappy leaves of Agapanthus still with their seed heads. Next are a Choisya ternate and then a Melia with large palmate leaves. Looking from a different angle the foliage is even more important to the composition.
No flowers here at all
Behind this, the linking plant being the Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ is a small area devoted to box balls, grasses and a Teucrium also shaped into a ball and some thyme that naturally form a globe .
The Verbena bonarienis is a self seed, I'll be removing this
At the end of the LHB is a large white Mulberry, it has grown a lot in the last 4 years and it now castes quite a lot of shade. Here texture and form reign, although at this moment the Acanthus are at their worst. The old foliage is yellow and crisp and the flower stem brittle, but I can see the new growth that will make this area green all winter. Hostas thrive here; as long as they have shade they don’t mind if it is quite dry, there are fewer slugs and snails if it is dry, of course.
Hosta add so much form and light with their variegated leaves
Hosta, Anemone 'Honerine Jubert', Solomon's Seal, with large Canna leaves and again the bay hedge
At last the anemones are beginning to grow, they have struggled in this position but now there is more shade they are managing to clump up and even flower, I love the leaves especially contrasting with the shiny Canna that I grow just for the foliage the flowers on this variety are pretty insignificant.
Messy, too many different plants with not enough difference between them.
Moving on to the back border, I’m struggling here to achieve the look I want. Here there are too many different grasses mixed together badly. If texture and form are the main features then I think there need to be big blocks of the same plant, this is true of all planting really but with flowers you can get away with some smaller points of interest. I need to work on this border; I want it to be mainly grasses with just a few other plants to add variety with some solid form. There are two walnut trees; I am aware that they interfere with the growth or other shrubs but seem not to impede the growth of grasses.
A little further along, past the fig tree I am very pleased with the planting I did this spring. There are two varieties of Miscanthus; M. sin Gracillimus and M. sin Graziella. In front of these are 5 Pennisetum ‘Little Bunny’. This border is irrigated once a week and it is worth noting that these Little Bunnies are thriving whereas some others planted just across the path, but in a bed that isn’t irrigated are struggling. I intend moving my unhappy Bunnies to where there is some irrigation and a little shade in the back border.
As most of the foliage will continue for long periods I’m not going to talk about all that’s giving me pleasure this month, if you’d like to see a few of the silver leaved plants that are still sparkling in the sunshine please click on the image below.
Please leave a comment with a link to your post about foliage and thank you so much for joining in.
There is another post about foliage by Pam @ Digging the day after GBBD; I know that for many of us 2 posts in 2 days is hard so hopefully spacing it like this will work well. If you linked to Pam’s digging I am happy that you link back to the same post but maybe you should say so that other visitors will know that they’ve read it before.