It’s the 16th day of the month which means its time to join Pam at Diggings for Foliage Follow Up, the monthly gardening meme where garden bloggers showcase the beauty of foliage in their gardens. This month I’m looking for advice …

“Variegation is the appearance of differently coloured zones in the leaves, and sometimes the stems, of plants. This may be due to a number of causes. Some variegation is attractive and ornamental and gardeners tend to preserve these”.

Most gardeners love variegated foliage and I’m no exception. I love the contrast they provide and discovering how one can add interest in a garden with different colours, shapes and textures of foliage is what really got me interested in gardening. I can spend hours looking at different foliage types in a nursery and I have spent many, many hours pouring over books learning about different plants and their foliage and how to use them in a planting scheme.

One of my favourites has been the unassuming Acorus gramineus ‘Variegatus’ (Japanese sweetflag) that I use as a contrast in my back shade garden. I’ve really loved this easy plant and have used it in my big plant bed as a border at intervals, for repetition and colour. Its been a stellar performer up until very recently when I noticed one of the groupings starting to go ‘all green’, i.e. reverting to all one colour (‘reverting to type’ is what I believe it is called).

I thought I’d show a few photos of it … the way it was and how it looks now.

In my ‘brand new’ garden in February 2011 …

Acorum gramineus in February 2011

And then a few weeks later I planted some more in another spot …

More Acorus gramineus

Still more, I have this in groups of five in four differences places …

More Acorus ...

A closer view of the variegated foliage …

Close up of Acorus gramineus ...

Here you can see what a wonderful contrast it provides to some of my foundation plants …

A lovely contrast plant

And now … just a few months later its ‘returning to type’ / going green. Sigh … what to do?

Is this something I should be expecting? Is this normal? It is not an expensive plant. In fact I can buy them very cheaply and am wondering whether I should just yank these out and replace them with fresh new plants, or will they change back again? I love this plant – It’s evergreen, has narrow, shiny erect, fine leaves that are about 12 – 18 inches long. According to my notes it likes Sun to light shade; prefers moist to wet organically enriched soil.

I’d really appreciate any opinions and advice on this. They don’t look attractive the way I’ve planted them if they are all just green like this as they just look like ordinary lawn that has been left to grow wild – which is not the look I was going for, or want right here. It looks exactly like overgrown lawn right now.

Happy gardening
xxx