Foliage Follow Up – October 2013

Euphorbia characias 'Silver Swan'

Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’

Following on from the flowers we have the foliage and it is at this time of year that you really start to appreciate how important interesting foliage is especially if, like me, you want your garden to have interest all year.  One of my favourites is the Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’ which has been liberated from the floppy Cosmos which had subsumed the whole border.  Since it has been opened to the sun it has really taken off and is quite glorious.  I was reading about this plant back in Spring in The Plantsman and lo and behold when I went to the local DIY store (box store to the US readers) there was a whole batch of them just crying out to be bought.  I need to do a little more research on it as I am sure I read that there was some issues with overwintering the variegated Euphorbias.

Melianthus major

Melianthus major

The other plant that has benefited from the removal of the annual plants is the Melianthus major which has also come into its own.  I have two others but they are in a more shady location and not doing so well so I may have to relocate them.  I particularly like the contrast of the young foliage against the older glaucous ones.


Japanese Fern Holly

Japanese Fern Holly

The Japanese Fern Border has filled out over the last few months and I think I am quite pleased with it.  I do wonder if there is a lack of different heights but I think we shall give it another season before I make any real changes.

In fact I have realised that there are rather a lot of ferns in my garden I seem to be unable to resist them but now I want to try to master their names and even how to pronounce them!  I really think ferns are underrated as they are so easy and provide a lovely backdrop to flowers and there is bound to be one right for any location you have – even dry shade.


Japanese Painted Fern 'Burgandy Lace'

Japanese Painted Fern ‘Burgundy Lace’


Finally I have been admiring the Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’.  This poor plant was subjected to my brutal pruning earlier in the year when I was working on the border around it and realised that I had ignored it for too many years and it had grown very leggy.  I have a rather gungho approach to horticulture and then to just go for it and hope for the best trusting my instincts.  This time they seem to have be right and the Choisya has rewarded me with lots of bright new foliage and signs of flowers to come, which had been lacking in recent years.

Choisya ternata 'Sundance'

Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’

For more foliage follow up posts visit Pam over at Digging

22 Comments on “Foliage Follow Up – October 2013

  1. Hi, again great photos…have grown the melianthus from seed this year and I am ready to put it in the garden now ..can’t wait for it to look as good as yours..

  2. You’ve really opened my eyes to the merits of foliage in a garden and I will be exploring some of the species you have in your garden, as I could really do with more here.

    • hi Alison
      My hero Christopher Lloyd’s says that gardeners often realise the importance of foliage much later than they embrace flowers

  3. Looks like you have a Mahonia ‘Charity’ or ‘Arthur Menzies’ in that border with the ferns. It will soon give you height, so no reason not to sit tight. Your ‘Sundance’ is so pretty…makes me sad to have lost mine in a harsh winter. Guess I’ll try again. The flowers have a heavenly scent.

    • Hi Ricky
      I do have a mahonia media charity but not in that border. I think it is the Japanese fern holly you are looking at as I can see how it’s leaves look like a mahonia

  4. That euphorbia is looking rather stunning Helen – what would I give to grow euphorbias but too apprehensive of triggering off my skin allergies 😦 Do you know the name of the fern in your last fern photo? I like its speckling.

    • Hi Anna
      I’m 90% sure the fern is Cyrtomium fortunei

  5. Really lovely foliage, I think ferns are very underrated and wish people would use them more. Your Euphorbia is delightful, an asset to any border.

  6. You have some beautiful ferns there Helen, they make such a lovely tapestry. My euphorbia ‘Blue’ is very like your ‘White Swan’, I love the foliage. Choisyas are another much under rated plant, yet they provide wonderful evergreen leaves and fragrant flowers tice a year, what’s not to like?

  7. The euphorbia doesn’t look variegated from a distance, just silver. I gave up on euphorbia a few years ago as they were seeding everywhere and I still find them popping up even now – perhaps i should give them a second chance. The fern border is looking lovely – great idea, Helen.

  8. I bought this euphorbia ( Silver Swan) last year and it went through last winter ( in the Midlands) quite happily. It must have been covered with snow for at least 3 weeks on and off and it hasn’t been affected at all.

  9. Oh jealousy! The slugs ate all my cosmos. I had to dig out my Sundance because something (I never fathomed what) wouldn’t stop making its leaves stay small and slushy and brown and holey. I can remember the name of one out of my four ferns and, although I’ve planted them according to the height they will one day reach, didn’t find out how long it will take for them to get there. Ah well!

  10. Lovely pictures Helen, as always – particularly the ferns and I wish I had seen that Euphorbia on sale here in France – it seems to have grey foliage? We have very few plants available, except if I buy on the internet. I’m a great Euphorbia fan and will be delighted when mine start seeding themselves. I’m thinking of planting Melianthus in pots next year since seeing the large one at Hidcote (but not sure if my pots are large enough!).

  11. I love your Japanese fern border! Mine are just kind of scattered around as accents… I think I need to move them a little closer now.

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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