I was interested to read Christina’s recent post extolling the importance of foliage.  I have found myself in the last year or so beginning to think more about how different foliage works together and my favourite bed in the garden is one where the planting is based entirely on foliage combinations and the flowers come second.  As I said in a recent post I want to move more in this direction in the future.

This is the border at the end of August.  I can’t show you a picture of it now as I have been tidying up and the Jasmine along the wall has had a major thinning!  The ‘theme’ of the border is based around the deep purple of the Actaea simplex foliage.  I have tried to pick this colour up with the Japanese Painted Fern (top picture) and also with Iris robusta ‘Dark Aurea’ which has wonderful purple stripes up the leaf stem.

As a contrast to the Actaea and Fern I have planted Kirengeshoma palmata.  As you can see the leaf stalk (photo above) also echos the purple theme and at this time of year the buttery yellow flowers add an extra sparkle.  Also in this border is a yellow rose whose name escapes me but whose flowers are the same shade of yellow as the Kirengeshoma.

I also call this my ‘Spring’ border as it is full of snowdrop and eranthis bulbs. These are followed by some Candelabra Primulas (above) again with a magenta flower and Primula Dark Rosaleen.  Finally the other occupants of the border are Mathisella Green Dream whose foliage I adore, Japanese Anemones another good foliage plant and some hostas with white variegated leaves.

I have learnt quite a lot over the recent years creating this border and I am learning to look at plants more than for their flower colour.

Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

12 thoughts on “Foliage”

  1. Helen, thank you very much for joining in GBFD; I knew if you did it would be an excellent addition to the debate, and I wasn’t disappointed. You and I are coming from the same place on this – the importance of foliage isn’t about having a garden or border devoted to foliage but considering the foliage as much as the flower colour when deciding what to plant. I thought how lovely this border was when you showed it before. Good luck in achieving the result you want with the rest of the garden. Christina

  2. I do like the cimicifuga for it’s leaf colour and shape and the flowers are pretty too and quite late in the season. Our ones seem to take an age to bulk up and I would like to spread them about a bit! They do look good combined with other green leaf shapes, don’t they?

  3. Very wise Helen, foliage is always the key to a successful garden. No matter how fabulous the flowering, it only lasts for a week or two and then the foliage does take center stage.
    That photo is stunning. Clearly you got the foliage bug. Welcome!!!

  4. Its a beautiful border Helen, good to remember that stalks can play as much a part as leaves when it comes to colour combinations. I can’t quite believe I’ve never planted Actaea simplex, something I must rectify at some stage – maybe in my next garden.

  5. You’ve done a gorgeous job of blending the different foliar plants to achieve a rich effect. I love the burgundy colors as well. Our Japanese painted fern had an excellent year after just puttering along for a few years. We had multiple floods and I am surprised it lasted, but I am hoping to add a few more, now that I know that they can thrive where I have it!

    1. thanks Cathy – I have divided my fern just by pulling the plant apart at the roots in spring, seems to do well

  6. I like that combination too Helen. I am quite partial to plants like tiarellas and pulmonarias that offer both long term foliage interest and a sparkle of flower time too,

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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