Foliage Follow Up-September 2011

Flowers are pretty, there is no denying that fact, but it is foliage that carries a garden throughout the year. Pam of Digging wisely decided to have the day after Bloom Day, or thereabouts, designated as Garden Blogger’s Foliage Follow Up. Won’t you join us to partake of some fine foliage this lovely September day?

A volunteer seedling from Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’ thoughtfully planted itself in this hypertufa planter with the variegated boxwood cutting. Soon, it is hoped, there will be red trumpet flowers that are adored by hummingbirds. The wait is long for this tender plant to bloom, but worth it. Cuttings will be taken to winter over safely in the sunroom/greenhouse.

It was with the move to this incarnation of the Fairegarden, in 2000, that the epiphany of foliage importance opened the curtain of ignorance and let in the light of leaves. Do you see any flowers in the above photo? There are some tiny bits of bloom, but they are insignificant compared to the foliage.

Flowers are fun, there is no doubt, but the heavy lifting of year around interest rests on the strong shoulders of foliage. And hardscape. Think about color and texture and non-deciduosity when planning your landscape, especially in the front and by the house where first impressions count the most.

Think about it…

…Leaves dominate every scene…

…Even annuals for seasonal container color are more long lasting if chosen for the foliage, and stems in the case of this Iresine.

Even as fall approaches and many leaves are less than stellar, the overall view benefits from the diversity of shape, texture and color of foliage. Long may it grow and prosper.


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16 Responses to Foliage Follow Up-September 2011

  1. Carol says:

    I agree. The flower may be the star, but without a good supporting cast, the foliage, it would look quite odd.

    Hi Carol, thanks for visiting. Yes, a good suporting cast. Often the star has laryngitis and the co-stars have to carry the show.

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You bet. Floliage is the great foundation of any garden. Flowers are merely the icing on the cake.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for the support. I believe newbie gardeners think it is all about flowers, then over time they learn the truth of it. It is all about foliage.

  3. Layanee says:

    Foliage is forever…almost. Flowers are fleeting. Beautiful shots.

    Thanks Layanee. Almost forever, especially compared to flowers.

  4. Alistair says:

    How very true. When we started off gardening many years ago, yes it was all about flowers and as you say most of us become converted. Take a look at our garden now and anyone can see how the foliage dominates. Your garden is looking fantastic.

    Thanks Alistair. I remember being like that, only thinking about flower and flower color, not even bloom time. Much has been learned since those early days, thank goodness.

  5. Wendy says:

    In your comment above you mentioned how newbies think it’s all about flowers .. that is so true! This is my 3rd year and I’d still say I’m on the newbie level in some aspects… and it has taken to this year for me to think hmm… I really need some foliage color instead of just flowers!

    What is the red tipped grass in photo # 5? The one with the ‘THINK’ garden stake? I really love that!

    Thanks for sharing your garden as always. It’s absolutely beautiful and calming to see!


    Thanks Wendy. It is time for you to think about foliage, and evergreen foliage in particular. Unless you move to another place for winter, it is the evergreens, from ground cover to large trees that will keep the garden going. Don’t forget hardscape! The red grass is Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’.

  6. Excellent placement of colchicums. They go very well with the blue of those shrubs–are they some kind of juniper?

    Thanks Kathy. I am happy with the placement, but there are fall crocus in there as well and I had hoped for them both to bloom together, like they did last year. Those are Blue Star junipers, my favorite, used extensively here.

  7. Marguerite says:

    Great post. It seems to me our eye is always drawn to the bright colours of flowers and we think they are everything but without the backdrop of foliage the flowers just get muddled together.

    Thanks Marguerite. Flowers are great for macro camera shots, but it is the vast wall of foliage that the eye sees for most of the year. Thought needs to go into how to make that interesting with color, size and texture.

  8. commonweeder says:

    Foliage is around for more of the year than flowers which makes it important right off the bat, It is also important for the structure it brings to the garden.

    Hi Pat, thanks for joining in. Foliage rules the garden, unless one only looks at blooming flowers and wears blinders the rest of the time.

  9. lynnekovan says:

    What a lovely post. Everything is still so colourful. By this time of year, I seem to lose interest in my garden which is a real shame, as it’s still putting on a performance as best it can. I think you have inspired me to get out there and shape it up a bit! Thanks!

    Thanks Lynne. Fall is glorious here, with the deciduous leaf color changes providing a brilliant backdrop for the fall wildflowers, asters, mums and grasses. Not a time to lose interest!

  10. chuck b. says:

    Wow, is the conifer bed in the corner new? Beautiful! I have lately been drawn to those colored conifers. Want!!

    Hi Chuck, so nice to see you, thanks. The bed with the rock wall was built in 2006, when the addition and front foundation got the rock treatment. The plantings have grown in nicely and finally the yellow contrast has been achieved with golden oregano. Citronelle Heuchera burned up in the summer sun in that space, until the Japanese maple grows large enough to shade it better. The Colchicums were new last year.

  11. Frances, you are so right about the foliage and I am really trying to think of this when I choose perennials and shrubs.


    Thanks for visiting, Eileen. I am still drawn to pretty flowers at nurseries, but when making plans to improve the appearance of the garden here, rely much more on foliage.

  12. Lyn says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Frances. It took me years, but I am finally thinking about foliage and cutting down on deciduosity – great word, by the way, I must find a way to introduce it into a conversation today!

    Hi Lyn, thanks. It took me many years to see the foliage for the flowers, too. You are the only one to comment on this fine new made up word, you get the prize! Which is my gratitude. HA

  13. I agree with you – foliage can be as important to a garden as flowers. When I became interested in gardening I concentrated in flowers, but nowadays I’m getting more and more fond of foliage. There are so many lovely shades and textures around…

    Hi Katarina, thanks, so nice to see you here. Foliage is what the garden is when there are few flowers, which is the majority of the time, in truth. Selecting evergreen groundcovers, perennials, shrubs and trees has really helped give the eye somethng to enjoy all year.

  14. Rose says:

    As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Your photos of your garden are all the persuasive arguments needed for planting more foliage in the garden. Of course, if you hadn’t written anything, I wouldn’t have learned a new word–“non-deciduosity”:)

    Thanks Rose. Foliage needs to be considered by all gardeners, for its deciduousity, or non. HA

  15. Thanks for joining in this month, Frances. I always enjoy your turns of phrase, and this time “non-deciduosity” caught my ear. Love it! You always write such wonderful, gently instructive posts. This one is sure to inspire people to start planting for foliage instead of only flowers.

    Thanks Pam, for helping bring more attention to the foliage. I promise to do a better follow up each month, for this is something important to all gardens. I have to admit to many years of gardening thinking only about flowers. It was only recently, the last few years, that foliage rose to the top. Glad you liked the new word. HA

  16. I think it takes a mature gardener to appreciate the beauty of foliage and to recognize that it too can be very colorful even without blooms. Looking at it closely, foliage is no less varied than are flowers.

    My first few years in gardening were concentrated on cultivating blooming plants, then I switched to the other extreme and cultivated nothing but non-blooming plants. Today I combine the two and my garden has never looked better.

    Thanks Hanna. Maturity and experience with gardening do show us that the way to have a more pleasing space is through the use of foliage. Flowers are fleeting, but we wouldn’t be without them, either.

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