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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The foliage epiphany

As a beginning gardener, I had little focus in the garden. Just being able to grow different things got me so excited. At first I tried the familiar plants, perennials such as Iris and Daisies, vegetables and herbs like Tomatoes and Basil, annuals meant Impatiens and Begonias.

Once I gained confidence and toured other gardens, the collectoritis bug bit me and I began to search out all kinds of perennials. Daylily fever almost took me down for good, at one time my garden was filled with strapy green foliage until the glory of July showered me with waves of colorful blooms.

It was on a tour one July (a daylily tour at that) where I was struck by the most amazing sight. It was a shade garden filled with an amazing array of foliage plants. I was experiencing a gardeners epiphany. From that moment on I've worked hard to add new dimensions to my gardens and my containers by searching out all kinds of foliage.

One only needs to visit the greenhouse at any local botanical garden to find the most delicious display of tropical foliage colors. At the beginning of this post you can see a simple croton, I never noticed them before my foliage awareness came upon me. Now not a year goes by that I don't add them to my shade planters.

Once your mind opens to the multitude of foliage varieties, you will find that there are so many directions to follow. Whether you are looking for hardy perennials or tropical annuals, you will find foliage with unique colors, shapes, textures and combinations of all of these.

The biggest advantage to adding amazing foliage to your garden is that you don't have to wait until the flowers open. Even if the summer is too wet to make your pelargoniums happy your containers can look great from day one right up until frost.

One warning though, don't be sold by a pretty face. The colors in this chameleon plant (Houttuynia) are amazing but if you plant this in your perennial bed you will never ever be able to get it out of there. Luckily for me I only put in one single slip many years ago, yet even now, ten years later I battle stray pieces that pop up here and there.

Stay tuned for more on foliage in the garden. This morning I finally finished scanning 100 foliage slides so I have lots of fodder to share with you. I'd also love to hear from you about what works and what doesn't work for you in your garden.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved the Hosta, Epimedium, Bloodroot picture. Glad you mentioned the hated Houttuynia! I've been afraid of the Perilla for the same reason.