Tag Archives: Burgundy

The Blushing Beauties of the Spring Garden

IMG_3223

Many Japanese maples exhibit beautiful spring color

We expect the color blast in our spring garden to come from flowers – daffodils, tulips, bleeding heart and primroses  are just a few I am enjoying in my own garden right now. But have you noticed all the colorful foliage – and its not just that fresh shade of green we have been coveting all winter.

The leaves of many perennials, shrubs and trees display warm shades of copper, rose and burgundy as they unfurl even if they mature to green or yellow.

Double Play Gold spirea

Double Play Gold spirea

Double Play Gold spirea (Spirea japonica

Perhaps the best known shrubs for warming the early spring garden this way are the birchleaf spirea. I have several groups of the one shown here and they create a striking splash of color, especially when seen against a backdrop of evergreens. The foliage will eventually transition to a warm gold but it will continue to produce copper colored new growth all summer (mainly because the deer keep deadheading the shrubs….)

if you only want to treat yourself to one shrub this spring make it a spirea. Better still get three. Or five.

The new growth of peonies reminds me of hands closed in prayer

The new growth of peonies reminds me of interlaced fingers

Peonies

I was fortunate to find several peonies in our garden when we moved here but as is usually the case I have no idea what varieties they are. Regardless, I have some with deep pink flowers with gorgeous burgundy toned leaves and others with softer pink blooms and a bronze-green leaf. It is the latter peony that is pictured here and I was fascinated to notice the two-tone color as the leaves were slowly unfolding. So pretty.

Red barrenwort - also known as Bishop's hat in the UK

Red barrenwort – also known as Bishop’s hat in the UK

Red barrenwort (Epimedium rubrum)

This may be one of the most common barrenwort but every year I look forward to the intense spring color on the heart shaped leaves.

The flowers emerge in March and as dainty as they are, after just a few weeks they are spent. That’s when the new colorful foliage quickly fills in to create mounds of these luscious leaves. Stunning.

Many of the orange-toned Heuchera have vibrant new growth in spring

Many of the orange-toned Heuchera have vibrant new growth in spring

Coral bells (Heuchera)

I think the hybrid shown above is Caramel but many of the warm colored coral bells have similar spring colors e.g. Peach Flambe, Creme Brulee and Marmalade. The layers of spring color are totally delicious!

Jade Frost sea holly

Jade Frost sea holly

Jade Frost sea holly (Eryngium planum ‘Jade Frost’)

This drought tolerant perennial has a more delicate blush than the others I have shared, the pretty pink margins only being really noticeable in cooler weather – both spring and fall.

Summer will bring spires of blue and white teasel-like flowers but as is always the case it is the foliage that spans the seasons.

What are your favorite spring plants that bring a warm glow to the garden?

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Big Picture Foliage Color

IMG_4646We are so fortunate to live in the Northwest with an abundance of Japanese maples to ogle every year in four seasons. This week, I went to the Washington Park Arboretum to enjoy the fall colors and get design ideas. For this particular weeks blog post, if you can take the ideas here and springboard from the maples to whatever shrub or tree that is appropriate to your own particular climate, you will get the most out of it.

I would like you to take a look at the size and shape of the plants in relationship to one another and how the layers of vivid color show the foliage at its finest. The focal point Weeping Japanese Maple in the photo above could be many gold foliage colored shrubs, evergreen OR deciduous. With this thoughtful planning, it is a BOLD autumn statement with the orange and fiery coral trees in the background.

IMG_4669We tend to rely on gold foliage a lot in our predominantly gray, mild climate in the Northwest. This example of a gold Weeping Birch defines the form even better as it loses its leaves, but the supporting players in this big picture vignette are as vibrant as ever. Check out the layers of color!

IMG_4693This spectacular Oxydendrum or Sourwood tree with its dangly white seed-heads from summer blooms is the Matriarch in this scene. The red and gold Japanese maples in the foreground are certainly showing off as youngsters will, but SHE always has the upper hand in this grouping, she is only just beginning to strut her stuff!

IMG_4723A giant blue-green Sequoia positively dwarfs this fall gold Horse Chestnut tree. Now, THAT is long-term thinking for color and layering in the landscape right there!

IMG_4748I was positively entranced when I came around the corner to see this Stewartia Monodelpha. It was the only tree of color in the whole area and the burgundy/red foliage with the russet red bark were the height of elegance against an entirely green backdrop.

IMG_4863This picture in the Washington Park Arboretum Japanese Garden was one that illustrated the point this week best I think. The two amazingly citrus yellow Ginkgo trees and one lime green, side by side amongst the layers of cedar, spruce, pines and maples are stand-out examples of my point.

IMG_4876Think about the bigger picture when planning out your trees and shrubs. If you have the luxury of thinking long-term for your landscape, or even if you won’t be living with your current garden years from now, think of the next gardener to enjoy it, and try to keep in mind how amazing your fall color can be with the large-scale foliage color layers. This is a skill that will come in handy during the hot, sexy rush of spring planting.

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Evergreens that aren’t Ever Green

Forever Goldie golden arborvitae has orange tips when the weather gets colder

Forever Goldie golden arborvitae has orange tips when the weather gets colder

We are all know that  most deciduous trees change color in fall but did you know that certain evergreens do too? When we notice these seasonal details we have the opportunity to create new combinations that highlight them – and that’s what Fine Foliage is all about!

Here are a few of my favorites;

1, Little Heath andromeda (Pieris japonica ‘Little Heath’)

Little Heath andromeda changes from green/white to green/pink

Little Heath andromeda changes from green/white to green/pink

This is a true four season shrub. Its  pretty green and white variegated leaves have pink new growth in spring, white flowers which often persist into summer and then the foliage takes on a wintry blush as temperatures drop. I use them in containers and landscape design – I’m sure you have room for at least one.

To see this in a great spring combination enjoy Damp and Dramatic on page 84-85 in Fine Foliage.

Plant details

Size; 3′ x 3′

Light; part shade, part sun

Soil; moisture retentive

Zones; 5-9

2. Blue Surprise Port Orchard cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Blue Surprise’)

Blue Surprise Lawson's cypress is typically a rich steel blue but in cold weather will add tints of burgundy

Blue Surprise Port Orchard cedar is typically a rich steel blue but in cold weather will add tints of purple

The surprise here is that the steel blue foliage takes on a purple cast in fall and winter! This Port Orchard cedar need good drainage to avoid fungal disease and rot but Monrovia has now grafted this onto disease resistant rootstock as part of their Guardian series so they are far less temperamental. I love this columnar conifer in containers when young before transplanting it to the landscape as a stunning exclamation point.

Plant details

Size; 8′ x 3′, possibly taller

Light; Full sun

Soil; well drained but moisture retentive

Zones; 6-9

3. Rainbow drooping fetterbush (Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’)

Rainbow drooping leuothoe in its fall/winter color - wow!

Rainbow drooping leuothoe in its fall/winter color – wow!

Deer resistant, drought tolerant and as tough as old boots – three reasons why I include it in shady containers and gardens but that’s not all. White spring flowers and striking multicolored leaves which turn scarlet in fall and winter turn this into a real garden workhorse. In some years I have found it prone to fungal spot (seen as purple spots on the leaves) but I give it a good haircut in spring and it bounces back just fine.

Plant details

Size; To 5′ tall and wide but can be pruned easily

Light; part shade, shade

Soil; drought tolerant once established

Zones; 5-9

4. Forever Goldie golden arborvitae (Thuja plicata ‘Forever Goldie’)

When young Forever Goldie is a perfect container candidate. It's summer color goes through gold to chartreuse

When young Forever Goldie is a perfect container candidate. It’s summer color goes through gold to chartreuse

Probably my favorite golden conifer, this is a beacon in my garden throughout the year combining with the blue-purple leaves of Grace smoke bush during spring, summer and fall before becoming a solo artist in winter. To add to its cold season glory the golden foliage takes on coppery-orange tints – stunning. This is usually available as a 1g or 2g plant so once again is a perfect container candidate until it needs a bit more root room. See the leading photograph for its fall/winter color.

Plant details

Size; 15-20′ x 3′

Light; full sun

Soil; average

Zones; 3-7

Other favorites?

Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica cvs.) – see A Three-Leaf Trifecta in Fine Foliage (pages 6-7)

Many heathers e.g. Firefly and Winter Chocolate – see Strawberries and Chocolate in Fine Foliage (p 68-69)

Many golden pines e.g. Louie and Winter Gold

Wintercreeper (Euonymus forunei) e.g. Emerald Gaiety and Emerald and Gold which both get pink tips,

What’s your favorite?

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Colorful Canopy – Trees and Layering

Sometimes we get the trees we have in our landscape because we inherit them with the property. Other times we get to choose our trees. Oh, the myriad of possibilities we have to choose from. When we get to choose several it can very nearly be decadent and dripping with the amazing number of choices at our disposal these days. Our grandparents never had it so good!

So, when we do get the luxury of choosing our trees, a good thing to think about would be if you can layer a few of them together and create a living tapestry of color. This is exactly what I noted in a few gardens recently. It really struck me how large-scale foliage options had such great impact in the landscape, on a relatively modest sized lot or on large country acreage.

IMG_2399.CR2The layers upon layers of this spectacular Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’, often called the “Wedding Cake Tree” were striking against the soft blue backdrop of the Pine and the rich gold of the conifer and Japanese Maple in the foreground. Imagine this same scene with a green foliage tree. It wouldn’t have nearly the impact that this texture and color bring to the scene.

IMG_2575Facing the street , these trees help to create a screen of color. The Flowering Plum backs up this grouping and creates the perfect foil for one of my very favorite trees, the Arizona Cypress ‘Blue Pyramid’. Even on a cloudy day, these colors would still be rich and luscious, not to mention the beautiful textures together.

IMG_2789I was fortunate to see yet another Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ in this garden but this time with my other favorite tree (Karen’s too) the Robinia pseudoacaciaFrisia‘, a true stunner if there ever was one. Sunshine in the form of a tree. But, what a sophisticated pairing this makes! Soft, glowing and yet very 21st century in its color scheme.

What trees would YOU layer together in your perfect world? Drop us line and let us know. Or post your pic on the Fine Foliage page on Facebook!

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When the Understudy Becomes the Star

'Copper' bush honeysuckle, is a bullet-proof, deer resistant shrub that earns its place in any garden

‘Copper’ bush honeysuckle, is a bullet-proof, deer resistant shrub that earns its place in any garden

If you’re like me you’ll naturally gravitate towards the biggest, showiest, most colorful leaves in the nursery, oohing and aahing over the latest chartreuse, purple or polka dot darling of the foliage world. All well and good except that a garden filled entirely with such ‘specimens’ can be visual overload.

Don’t forget to check out some of the quieter beauties such as this ‘Copper’ bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera ‘Copper’). This was an impulse buy on my part last year and I’m so glad I succumbed!

Just look at that color!

Just look at that color!

As the name suggests, the new growth is a rich copper color, especially striking with the sun streaming through it. Even the older leaves are a deep olive green with rosy undertones, making a lovely pairing with the burgundy stems. In fall the whole bush turns shades of yellow and orange before the leaves drop.

If only this was 'scratch and sniff'... the beautiful honeysuckle type fragrance fills the summer air

If only this was ‘scratch and sniff’… the beautiful honeysuckle type fragrance fills the summer air

For those who have to have their floral fix you’ll be pleased to know that bush honeysuckle does have lots of small, fragrant yellow flowers in mid summer which contrast beautifully with the copper foliage.

If you live in deer country you can celebrate – the deer really do seem to leave this alone! As well as this cultivar I have the native bush honeysuckle in another area and both have been completely ignored by these four legged pests.

Are you watering-challenged when it comes to the garden? Then this may be just the shrub for you! Mine does not get watered at all yet it is thriving even in full sun.

Still not convinced? It will take considerable shade just as easily as full sun although flowering is better in sun and I would imagine that ‘Copper’ also has better color in more light.

Do you prefer enjoying your garden from the comfort of a hammock? is your idea of a tough day in the garden trying to decide between a glass of Sauvignon blanc or iced tea? Then buy several of these. Abuse-proof, pest free, and just about zero maintenance.

Wondering how to incorporate this beauty? Look in the very center of this photo - that soft copper glow is the bush honeysuckle

Wondering how to incorporate this beauty? Look in the very center of this photo – that soft copper glow is the bush honeysuckle. See how it breaks up the gold and green?

But the best reason to include it is to add a soft ‘neutral’ color to the garden. Use it to break up swathes of green or to add a quiet note to an otherwise overly colorful foliage palette.

Sometimes the real stars are the understudies.

Cultural countdown

Site; sun or shade

Water; average but drought tolerant when established but will also adapt to moist soils

Mature size; 4′ x 4′

Hardiness; USDA zones 3- 8 or 9 (reports vary)

Other good stuff; hummingbirds, butterflies and bees love it. Deer don’t.

Uses;

  • as a transitional shrub between the more manicured garden and wilder areas beyond.
  • for naturalizing (it will sucker but not aggressively),
  • as a visual resting place between bolder colored foliage,
  • as an informal hedge,
  • woodland garden

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When is a Cabbage more than a Cabbage?

cabbage close upWere you one of those children who didn’t want to eat their ‘greens’? Turned your nose up at the smell of cooked cabbage? Well now that you’re all grown up let’s take a fresh look at this vegetable and see what else you can do with it!

This is the diva of cabbages – just look at that flirty blue foliage with magenta  ribs. Surely it would be wrong to just eat it (unless you’re a slug). Just think of the possibilities in the garden though. Such big succulent foliage would be a perfect side dish to finer textures such as hardy fuchsias as shown below using the soft variegated foliage of Fuchsia magellanica ‘Versicolor’.

A perfect lesson in color echoes and scale.

A perfect lesson in color echoes and scale.

Note how the tall purple alliums repeat the color of the bright veins in the cabbage leaf and how the height and scale of the metal sculpture is balanced by the hefty vegetable foliage.

Red leaf barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpure’a) would add depth to the color palette. If they are invasive in your area you could try darker leaved weigela or fringe flower (Loropetalum),

Balance the soft blue with rich purple companion foliage. A stray branch of Homestead Purple verbena draws the eye to the ribs of the cabbage foliage.

Balance the soft blue with rich purple companion foliage. A stray branch of Homestead Purple verbena (Verbena canadensis ‘Homestead Purple’) draws the eye to the ribs of the cabbage foliage.

Then just build on the idea. Put the cabbage in a fat, round pot, echo the blue tones with blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens), throw in some bold yellow accents and you have the makings of a fabulous foliage-inspired border!

cabbage in pot

A skirt of yellow Sedum ‘Angelina’ brings sparkle to the composition and repeats the color of the mounding conifers (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Fiifera Aurea’).

Maybe cabbage isn’t so bad after all?

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The Art of Layering

untitled-62Some gardens remain deep in ones soul years after we have visited them. Such is the case with this breathtaking landscape in Woodinville, WA, designed by the homeowner Jim Guthrie.

In a world full of noise this oasis is a welcome relief. No jarring colors, no ‘look-at-me’ modern art (although there are some stunning yet understated sculptures), no trendy gabion walls, glass-topped fire pits or vertical succulent walls. Not even any flowers!

Rather, this Asian-inspired garden features layers of foliage in restful shades of green and gold with just a few burgundy accents, relying on contrasting textures and forms for interest.  Billowing waterfalls of soft yellow Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’) are repeated around the perimeter, interspersed with evergreen shrubs such as David viburnum (Viburnum davidii). ‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’) repeats this mounding form while introducing finely dissected burgundy foliage to the color tapestry.

Stands of ‘Green Groove’ bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’), restrained in a rhizome barrier and smaller conifers form the vertical middle tier while the backdrop is provided by native trees such as Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) and Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla). In the foreground (right) the bright green foliage of a katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) rustles in the breeze and promises a candy apple fragrance come fall.

This is a subtle beauty that does not apologize for its lack of psychedelic bistro sets or extravagant floral displays. This is the essence of good design – and it is all about the foliage.

You can learn more about this inspiring garden in our book Fine Foliage.

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Beauty and the Beast

IMG_9353This is a tiny corner of the very first garden I designed professionally and it is still one of my favorites. Ironically the fabulous combination shown here, is actually one that the homeowner created!

Why It Works

I planted a group of the variegated ‘Little Heath’ andromeda at the base of a dogwood tree imagining the pretty color echos between this delicate foliage and the white flowers/ red fruits of the tree. While that was certainly attractive it wasn’t until these monster-sized chocolate colored leaves were added as a backdrop that the vignette really came into focus. The burnished tones of the ‘beast’ seem to enhance the rosy tints of the ‘beauty’ perfectly and there is no doubt that the dramatic difference in leaf size plays a key role in the success of this duo.

Gorgeous – I just wish I could take credit!

The Stars

Red leaved Rodger’s Flower (Rodgersia podophylla ‘Rotlaub’).

The giant, jagged leaves of this herbaceous perennial are serious show stoppers! Initially emerging a deep bronze this dramatic foliage slowly creates a 3-4′ mound of foliage in shades of green, copper and burgundy. Truly a spectacular backdrop for the dramatic plumes of creamy-white flowers which appear in mid-summer, but really who needs flowers?   Zones 5-9

‘Little Heath’ andromeda, lily of the valley shrub (Pieris japonica ‘Little Heath’)

Evergreen, compact, delicate green and white variegated foliage with rosy new growth and spring flowers – this is one of my ‘go to’ shrubs for containers and gardens. It  grows slowly to 3′ x 3′. Zones  5-9

What They Need To Thrive

  • Partial shade
  • Moisture retentive soil

Season Of Interest

  • Year round

Want to see more? Our book Fine Foliage features this duo with ‘companions’…………..

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Portrait of a Foliage Color Palette – Silvers

January 2013 Foliage and Bloom 158.CR2 copy

Have you ever gone in to a fabric store and had the clerk snip samples of fabrics to help you with design ideas? You can come up with your own design palette with even the smallest pieces of fabric for an outfit or for an entire room, then springboard into all of the other details from there.

How about taking that same idea and creating a foliage palette for a container or garden space in a similar way? Create mini-arrangements of various types in a little shot glass or small bowl to see what you like together. Winter and early spring is particularly great for this as you’re looking at your building block essentials in the garden at this time of the year.

In this vignette you see Artemisia ‘Cirrus’, a plant that ranks high on my must have list. Helleborus sternii ‘Silver Dollar’, Parahebe perfoliata and Heuchera ‘Green Spice’. All of these are hardy here in my part sun, zone 7-8 (Seattle area), but check with your local nursery expert or Master Gardener about hardiness in your area.

This palette of silvers that range from whites to blue tones is rich with the winter bronze on the Heuchera that has that hint of milk chocolate in the veining. In the spring, the Heuchera will revert to its soft silvery-green with burgundy veining as an elegant foil to all that silver.

The good manners caveat here is that you don’t ever snip where it’s not invited. A good friend or a neighbors garden with permission is different than snipping without permission in a nursery or botanical garden.