In the world of gardening flowers seem to get the most attention. In reality though flowers come and go, but what stays constant throughout the growing season is the plant’s foliage. So, in many ways leaves should probably get more attention than they regularly do.
Leaves are in for the long haul, from beginning to end of the gardening season. A good garden worthy plant should be selected not on bloom beauty alone, but also on the attractiveness and sturdiness of the foliage.
It’s possible to create a beautiful garden with no flowers at all, but for myself I prefer the combination of blooms and foliage. Luckily there are many plants that boast gorgeous leaves, whether it be in design, color, size or substance.
A huge plant group with the some of the most amazing leaves in the plant world. From the smallest of plants to the largest, the variety is endless in color tones and designs. Hosta leaves unfurl in the spring and remain beautiful right until a killing frost. If snails or slugs are a problem where you garden, you will want to take steps to control them.
Many plant groups now have cultivars with variegated leaves. There are combinations of green and white, green and cream or green and yellow. Some of the more easier ones to find are Phlox paniculata , Iris pallida, Brunnera ‘Jack Frost or ‘Hadspen Cream’, Heuchera ‘Strawberries & Cream’, Sedum, Ornamental Grasses, Cana, Hosta, Euonymus, Vinca, Yucca, Oregano, Impatients and Pachysandra. There is even a newer daylily called ‘Golden Zebra’ that has variegated leaves.
Red, Burgundy and Black Foliage Plants
Not all foliage is in shades of green. Many trees, shrubs and ornamental plants have leaves in striking shades of red and even purple/black. This is not a reference to fall color change. These leaves are brilliant colors for the entire season. You could try Japanese Red Maple, Berberis, Ninebark, Norway Red Maple, Sedum, Amaranth, Coleus, Heuchera, Ligularia, Cimcifuga, Purple Joy Pye, Smoke Bush, Leptinella ‘Platt’s Black’, Black Sweet Potato Vine, Purple Oxalis, Ajuga, Dahlia and Euphorbia.
Chartreuse, Blue or Silver Foliage Plants
For brilliant chartreuse plant Potato Vine, Spurge, Coleus, Heuchera ‘Electra’ or ‘Key Lime Pie’, Spiderwort ‘Sweet Kate’, Creeping Jenny, Sedum ‘Angelina’, Elephant Ear, Golden Japanese Forest Grass and Dicentra ‘Gold Heart’.
Leaves in these tones are great for brightening up a dark corner in the garden. They make great accent and contrast plants adding a bit of POP to your display. Look for Hosta, blue Conifers, Ornamental Grasses, Succulents, Spurge, Artemesia, Dusty Miller, Japanese Painted Fern, Lungwort, Lamium, Curry Plant, Licorice Plant, Rose Campion, Snow in Summer, Russian Sage, Lambs Ears, Sage and Santolina.
Fuzzy, Textured or Intricate Foliage Plants
Texture can greatly increase the aesthetic appeal of your garden. Texture can be fine and airy as in Baby’s Breath, Maiden Fern, Nigella, Coreopsis, Fennel, Dill or Spirea. Texture can also be bold and tropical like Hosta, Rhododendron, Canna and Astilboide. Other foliage is all about the tactile as in the soft and furry Lambs Ears or the sharp and prickly like Eringeum. You can use bold textured plants as accents and fine textured plants as fillers. For maximum interest plant contrasting textures in close proximity.
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