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Favourite Foliage

As I was getting ready for the monthly Garden Bloggers Bloom Day I realised that although I love having pretty flowers in my garden, I’m actually far more taken with the foliage of plants. When I’m shopping for plants these days I look for plants with interesting foliage rather than questioning the colour or look of the flower. If a plant has gorgeous foliage and the flowers appeal to me too, well then it’s an absolute winner of course, but I’m attracted to the foliage of a plant and don’t care too much about its flowering potential.

My big bulb planting experiment has taught me a lot about my plant preferences. Now that the bulbs have all emerged and are mostly in bud, I know exactly which ones I will nurture and replant next year and which will end up in the compost bin. Some of my “favourite flowers” won’t be making it back into the planting scheme. For example, Dutch Irises (which are true bulbs) are one of those destined for composting. I simply love having a vase of these gorgeous blooms in my home but regrettably I don’t particularly like the actual plant in my garden. The flopping foliage doesn’t do anything for the overall look of the garden once it emerges, but I remain hopeful that the flowers will make up for it once they bloom. After that, Sayonara!

Rhizomatous Irises on the other hand, like the Siberian and Bearded Irises which are so popular, have wonderful, large, strappy leaves that contrast beautifully in a plant setting, regardless of their flowers. I would have these in my garden even if they did not produce a single bloom, simply because I love the strong, strappy upward growing leaves that contrast so well with more delicate and ornate foliage. Even the Agapanthus, when not in flower, contributes to the overall look of my garden and ornamental grasses? Well these are in a class of their own and my love affair with grasses has only just begun…

Today I’d like to share some of my very favourite plants that I love specifically for their foliage. These are the plants that create atmosphere and interest in my garden.

[one_half]Carex evergoldCarex evergold[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Big strappy IrisesBig strappy Irises[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Festuca glaucaFestuca glauca[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Ficus benjamina ‘Starlight’Ficus benjamina 'Starlight'[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Chameleon’Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Chameleon'[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Nandina domestica Sacred BambooNandina domestica Sacred Bamboo[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Ipomoea Sweet Caroline PurpleIpomoea Sweet Caroline Purple[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Inherited Ponytail PalmInherited Ponytail Palm[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Plectranthus madagascariensisPlectranthus madagascariensis[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Inherited PhilodendronInherited Philodendron[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Hypoestes phyllostachyaHypoestes phyllostachya[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lilium LongiflorumLilium Longiflorum[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Agapanthus africanusAgapanthus africanus[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Panicum Virgatum “Shenandoah”Panicum Virgatum “Shenandoah”[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Chondropetalum tectorumChondropetalum tectorum[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Nandina pygmaea ‘Dwarf Sacred Bamboo’Nandina pygmaea 'Dwarf Sacred Bamboo'[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Plectranthus ciliatusPlectranthus ciliatus[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lamium ‘Beacon Silver’Lamium 'Beacon Silver'[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Cynara – Globe ArtichokeCynara - Globe Artichoke[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Acanthus mollisAcanthus mollis[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Cinerarias (annuals)Cineraria (annuals)[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Helichrysum petiolareHelichrysum petiolare[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Heliotropium ‘Royal Marine’Heliotropium 'Royal Marine'[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Lavender (I forget which type)Lavender (unknown type)[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Delphinium ‘Belladonna Casablanca’Delphinium 'Belladonna Casablanca'[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Acorus gramineus ‘Variegata’Acorus gramineus 'Variegata'[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Nandina pygmaeaNandina pygmaea[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Hypoestes ‘polka dot plant’ whiteHypoestes 'polka dot plant' white[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Duranta ‘Sheena’s Gold’Duranta 'Sheena's Gold'[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Caladium (I think?)Caladium (I think?)[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’Flax lily[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Alocasia cucullataAlocasia cucullata[/one_half_last]

All the Spring flowering bulb purchases, researching and planting, caring for and watching has been an amazing experiment and I’ve enjoyed the learning process and wonder of it all. I’ll enjoy a summer of not having to buy flowers for the vase but will make very different choices next year when I plant my spring flowering bulbs. I think I am “growing up” as a gardener. From planting odd pretty plants that I bought on impulse to carefully planning and researching, trying different combinations and making bolder decisions … it’s been a huge learning curve and very rewarding.

I’m linking up to Pam at Diggings monthly Foliage Follow Up, a monthly Garden Blog meme for lovers of Foliage!

What is your favourite foliage plant in your garden?

Happy Gardening

By Christine

Dominated by large trees on a medium sized property, my garden is very shaded. With no “full sun” areas I have to plant shade and partial shade loving plants. I love shrubs and flowers including camellias and azaleas but Roses and Irises are my favourite and getting these to thrive is a challenge …

15 replies on “Favourite Foliage”

You have voiced so many of my own ideas about foliage, I decided to begin a meme about foliage which I posted yesterday not knowing one already exisited but as that’s so soon after bloomday and I don’t think I’ll be able to post twice in 2 days I’ll continue with mine on the 22nd of the month and link back to Pam’s. Please feel free to link your posts to mine as well without having to post twice.

That’s fabulous Christina! I love foliage so much I’ll take part in both, I’m sure I can easily come up with two foliage posts a month!

Oh, there’s NO WAY that I could pick just one! Foliage is my thing… I could pretty much eschew almost all of my flowers for some good leaf texture and contrast. 🙂 But I guess that if I had to pick one… it would be my new(ish) silver sage, salvia argentea. Check back next week, though, and my answer might be different! lol.

Great photos of all of your favorite foliage, by the way. I think I’m in love with your inherited philodendron.

Christine, I’m so glad you left your link on my Foliage Follow-Up post so I could read your lovely reflections on gardening with foliage instead of flowers and see your beautiful pics. Thanks, too, to Elephant’s Eye and Donna for the mentions. I started Foliage Follow-Up as a monthly meme on the day after Bloom Day in order to provide a forum for appreciating all the lovely leaves that sometimes get overlooked in the pursuit of flowers.

I like your small mentioning of “growing up as a gardener”. I got my garden just over a year ago, and I can definitely feel a transition from the initial flourish of ambitions and overarching plans towards a more realistic approach where it’s all just about establishing the garden and filling out the blanks. Then, once I’ve filled out my canvas, I suspect I will move towards a more editing eye. For now, though? Bring on random plants and I will plop them into the ground wherever there’s space.

Your garden is full of such lovely foliage. My favorite of yours is the polka dot plant…beautiful! I think my favorites are shapes and colors of Japanese Maple, the delicate softness of Lamb’s Ears, and the silvery blue of Atlas Cedar…and nandina, of course.

I think this is one of the most important lessons for a gardener to learn. I love irises for their spiky foliage in addition to their beautiful blooms.

I loved this post!! It is a true reflection of your garden because the beauty is really in the foliage. You are so right – we pick the plants that display great leaves. The flowers are a bonus. I really love the photos and you have captured each with their complete uniqueness – all so different, but when together, makes a perfect picture. Beauuutiful!!! xx

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