Team Fine Foliage is proud to present the first ever 2014 Fine Foliage LEAFY AWARD! Every year we will choose a plant to honor and profile for its extraordinary foliage. The criteria for the award will be:
1) The sheer, mind bending beauty of the leaves (of course this IS Fine Foliage after all!) :-)
2) The usage and flexibility of the foliage in design.
3) Popularity and availability of the foliage nominated during the course of the year.
4) The number of votes each nomination receives. Each September, we will tally the votes for each nomination and make the announcement in October.
Since this is the first year for this award, we will get the leafy celebration started with a hands down, obvious winner for 2014 and then from here on out we will ask YOU to nominate YOUR favorites every month!
But first, we need to ask an important question of our fans. Is it possible for ONE exceptional plant to have leaves so amazing OR unremarkable that it could make or break a design?
We think so! If you think about it, using food as an example it makes SO much sense. When a fine chef creates a dish using only three ingredients, then one of those ingredients needs to be a superstar right? If it is pasta with peas and cheese for instance, then the chef may go to the farmer and choose this particular farmer where the peas are SO fresh and SO sweet that the chef may not need to add all kinds of other fancy elements to make an outstanding dish. It is the same with plants where we may go to a particular grower that brings the best of that particular plant to market that is a standout above ALL others.
Or when a decorator is furnishing a room and they need that singular piece of furniture that speaks to the exact esthetic that best meets the designers vision for the room. That is exactly the same idea as when we gardeners find that perfect foliage plant to be the focal point in a garden design. It stands out as an obviously fantastic piece, maybe not singularly unusual or unique, but RIGHT.
Sadly, the same is true for the reverse where a foliage element is just ho-hum and doesn’t add anything to elevate a combination. It’s just there, like an afterthought, a seemingly tasteless or bland bit of boring leaves that were not shown in the highest and best use. Even common, or “pedestrian” plants can be stunning when used creatively!
So from here on out, we want you to keep your eye on the leafy prize. Which plant stands out to you each season as having the potential to be THE ONE? Small or large, bold or quiet, soft or prickly, anything goes as long as it is a truly outstanding performer and readily available to MOST gardeners.
Now, on with the award! We present to you the 2014 winner of the Fine Foliage LEAFY AWARD.
The Japanese Maple!!
The sheer volume of marvelous Japanese maple choices is dizzying. There are options for a rainbow of colors, for sun and shade, for texture and structure for focal points and containers. They are available in nearly every corner in the country, though obviously they don’t do well quite everywhere, the VERY warm locations are not an option as these maples love a bit of cool respite.
To learn more about Japanese maples, here is a great article from Organic Gardening magazine that gives you a good outline about these incredibly elegant and hardy trees.
The Japanese maple lends itself so beautifully to elegant artistry in garden design, art and even poetry. Below is a poem about this magnificent tree that we think you will enjoy.
A Single Tree
by Avis McGriff Rasmussen
A vibrant vision
of timeless beauty
stands before me.
A single tree
the Japanese maple
thriving in fertile soil
in a brilliant mosaic
of crimson, gold and orange
a glorious sight to behold.
In spectacular harmony
the sculptured trunk
and curvaceous branches
reinforce its ancient appeal
while supporting its
This bold display
of creation bursts forth
for a season—the fall
enticing the onlooker
its delicate cycle of life.
As you pass this way
stand with me
and be amazed by this
intricate work of natural art
designed for our daily pleasure.
Avis Rasmussen (BA, Speech Pathology, ’85; Paralegal Certificate, ’92) is co-owner of a land development company in Southern California and a writer. She is married with a 9-year-old son.
Now, for the best part of the award, we dangle a leafy prize in front of YOU as well to get your ideas flowing; the person whose nomination gets the MOST VOTES each year receives a signed copy of Fine Foliage and the recognition for their brilliant idea! So, get thinking for 2015. There are a tantalizing array of leafy options to choose from. Show us YOUR prized, brilliant choice of foliage nomination each month and show off your mad foliage design skills and ideas!
We look forward to hearing from all of you next month!
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