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Standout Silver Foliage – Step Into the Light

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Silver Pulmonaria shines!

In a predominantly gray climate like the Northwest, we get a little hungry for light as you may imagine. As the darker days of autumn creep in and we lose more and more of our light to wet, rainy skies, it deepens my commitment to adding light colors to the garden as an uplight to other plants. Or simply just to add that high contrast WOW factor.

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Lets just say that I totally planned for these stunning Japanese Maple leaves to fall just like that over my ‘Moonshine’ Yarrow, yes lets say that. :-)

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Hebe ‘Quicksilver’ being photobombed by the ‘Ghost’ fern.

Of course there are the occasional “happy accidents” in garden design. I am comfortable enough in my design skills to admit that Mother Nature can be a better designer than I am. It’s those moments when I run, not walk to get my camera.

Then there are the times that I FINALLY found a plant that I have been looking for, for SO long! I was thrilled to score one of these from a friend in one of the local Hort Societies that we visited during a book talk. I have JUST the pace for this one.

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Euphorbia rigida

The texture and form of this low growing Euphorbia are spectacular with another drought tolerant silver plant, Salvia officianalis ‘White edged’.

October 2012 BBG Dump File 049Another standout silver foliage is the Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’. I have grown this one very well. After having marginal success with ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ and ‘Glacier Blue’, ‘Silver Swan’ has been utterly fantastic and I recommend it highly.
October 2012 Foliage and Bloom 868Look how pretty it is in the rain! Someday I will post my pic of this same plant under a solid inch of ice not too long ago came through with flying colors!

Our good friend and also as big of a hort-head, maybe more than Karen and I, is Mitch Evans. His gardens are toured for Horticultural teaching as well as for general ogling quite frequently. Mitch is an extraordinary plantsman and collector. He has a particular enthusiasm for amazing conifers.

October 2012 Mitch Evans Garden 016This stunning little Spruce in Mitch Evans garden illustrates my point here to a T – uplighting the Barberry so expertly!

Mitch Evans also happens to collect Cyclamen too, this one just took my breath away!

October 2012 Mitch Evans Garden 018Can’t you just imagine the uplifting effect this would have under a red Japanese Maple for instance? Stunning!

So now I hope that you can envision the vision of what a standout silver can be on a gray day in the fall. How about a few more ideas to add to your list?

- Liriope ‘Silver Dragon’
- Lamium ‘White Nancy’ or ‘Ghost’
- Stachys ‘Lambs Ears’
- Astelia
- Japanese Painted Fern
- Artemisia
- Asarum

I could go on and on and on and on…. but I would rather hear about what standout silver you love to use in your garden. 3,2,1….GO!

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November 2012 BHG Container Photos 153

Breaking the Autumn Design Rules

This week’s blog post is about taking chances.

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It’s common for folks to ask me questions all day long in the nursery where I work, about plants, planting, and maintenance. However, I think there is a psychological shift that happens as fall and winter get under way. The questions get much more “intense”. People suddenly become much more concerned with the “rules” in designing their containers and landscapes. They begin to feel the impending pressure of the weather changing, motivation is more about hurrying, and getting things buttoned up and finished.

October 2012 Foliage and Bloom 091While we all want to be thinking about the common sense parts of design like not putting water plants with succulents, (ahem….. I’ve never done that, noooooo…..head down shuffling dirt) I think in our hurry to get the task done, we forget about having fun and being adventurous.

Try new plants out- what’s the worst that could happen? You could try a plant, whether it’s just something seasonal or a plant that winters over and you find a spot for it at a friend or neighbors house instead. I love that old saying “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not gardening.” I paraphrased that for designs sake, that saying really says “killing plants”.

October 2011 Foliage and Blooms 162Now, granted that those of us up here in the NW are blessed and are fully aware that we live in basically horticultural Mecca, but for those of you in tougher climates, its no excuse to just fall back on boring old standby plants anymore. Live a little, be bold, there is such a thing as happy accidents- I do it ALL the time! Did I plan for that Kale to go with that Cypress? Heck no! But, it turned out awesome.

Slide1Slide2Slide3Plant shopping is a lot like trying on clothes. You have to lay them out together or try them on! If you are not a visual person why not take up some room at the nursery and lay out a mini version of your planting area or pot. Get those leaves snuggling one another just as they do in the garden! Shuffle them about until you have them arranged just so- now don’t assume you will do this exact same arrangement when you get them home, because you might have some brilliant flash of insight OR conversely forget that you can’t plant there because of the cable box. Be flexible – there are no design police.

September 2012 Dump File 125Layering those rich, voluptuous autumn and winter colors and textures together is my own personal drug of choice. Dreaming and scheming ideas to weave together have kept me awake many a night. But, the one thing I DO plan for, I plan to leave room for creative inspiration to strike and change it up. Why can’t that blueberry be in my fall pot? What if I used this non-traditional color scheme in this crazy purple pot? What about a color scheme for this bed that is completely new and different for me?

November 2012 BHG Container Photos 108November 2012 BHG Container Photos 181November 2012 BHG Container Photos 196November 2012 BHG Container Photos 279.CR2November 2012 BHG Container Photos 314November 2012 BHG Container Photos 320Bottom line – get weird with your foliage. You might just find out you’re a design genius!

What design rules have you broken that turned out to be happy accidents?  

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Using Pinterest to find Fine Foliage

Beauty and the Beast

http://fine-foliage.com/2013/02/26/beauty-and-the-beast/

This week, I just had to relay a lovely thing that happened to me! When I’m not writing for Fine Foliage, and I’m not working on my business as “The Personal Garden Coach”, and I’m not in my own garden, I am working at a lovely nursery just south of Seattle called Furney’s.

I approached a nice lady looking at some Rodgersia (a VERY cool choice, so I KNOW she had great taste) to offer my help. She told me that she was re-designing a portion of her garden based on this fantastic post that she found via Pinterest. I said, “That’s a wonderful tool for getting inspiration, great idea. What did you see?”

The woman begins to tell me about this post that had a combination of Rodgersia combined with Pieris ‘Little Heath’ and how much she LOVED the foliage texture and contrast, not to mention the rich color tones. Click….Click…Click…. you could hear the gears grinding in my head. “Wait a minute- that’s from my book!”

I’m not sure which one of us was more excited and taken aback by the realization that she had not only stumbled onto and fell in love with a combination we had posted on Pinterest, or that she had run into one of the authors of that book in person when she was looking for those VERY plants! It was a surreal moment to be sure, I will never forget it.
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Have you ever seen Pinterest? I dare you to fall down THAT rabbit hole! Its an amazing tool for so many things. Finding inspiration for garden design ideas is just one small but effective use for sure.

A short explanation of what Pinterest does; Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. It allows users to save images and categorize them on different boards. They can follow other users’ boards if they have similar tastes. Popular categories are travel, cars, food, film, humor, home design, sports, fashion, and art.

Since garden topics and foliage in particular are a such a visual bonanza, its THE perfect medium other than our own blog of course, to create your own personalized scrapbook of ideas to create in your real life!

Here is a link to Karen Chapman’s Pinterest Boards:
http://pinterest.com/jardinetdesigns/

Here is a link to my (Christina Salwitz) Pinterest Boards:
http://pinterest.com/growcoach/boards/

I encourage you to explore our boards or even better, to begin your own Pinterest search for Fine Foliage today. See what inspires you to run straight to the nursery a  plants for YOUR garden!

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The Foliage Forecast – A Tale about Transition and the Size of Things to Come

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A tapestry of small-scale plants right next to the sidewalk! Leucothoe ‘Rainbow’, ‘Rheingold’ Arborvitae, Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’, Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’, Nandina ‘Gulf Stream’, ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’ False Cypress, Spirea ‘Double Play Gold’, ‘Tri-Color’ Sage, Senecio cineraria ‘Cirrus’, Dwarf Hemlock.

The downsizing of America‘s landscape is upon us. Just like our homes, cars and some of our lifestyles, we are now learning to garden more efficiently in less space without sacrificing style.

The vast majority of us don’t have giant-sized lots in our neighborhoods as our grandparents and parents might have, depending on where you live of course. 2 acre lots are considered luxurious, 5 acres are GIANT. But, most of us these days have 1 acre, 1/2 or a 1/3 acre. More and more newer planned communities like mine are even less than a quarter acre or what we call a zero lot line.

When our home lots of yesteryear were young and new, there wasn’t nearly the plethora of plants to choose from and not many resources for good gardening information the way we all depend on now. There was no one to teach us “Right Plant, Right Place“. We all piled into the station wagon, went to the nearest nursery and chose from the small selection of Junipers and Rhododendrons or whatever your local everyday average plant choice might have been long ago.

As the years went by those basic, bread and butter plants were great- they did their job. Dad would routinely hack them back every year whether they needed it or not as an act of domination over the family’s land. After all, aren’t we SUPPOSED to have a hedgerow on our All-American Homestead? Isn’t the home supposed to be snuggled with shrubs up against the house and a “Leave it to Beaver” lawn all the way to the street?

But, then while everyone was busy, those plants grew and grew and grew. Dad could only hack them back so far now. Mom can’t get around the Laurel to get to the front door. Guests have to dodge the thorny, poky plants on the walkway, the juniper on the driveway harbors a spider colony that could rival a horror movie.

Don’t we all have that story of the weekend warrior, gardening bender where someone decided that (insert ubiquitous over grown, badly placed plant here) it was high time to take that plant out? “I can’t stand it for not one more minute! Chop it down. Tear it out. Prune it into submission. Tie it to the bumper of your truck and pull that sucker out!”

Then suddenly its gone. As if by magic, the sun has broken through and now you have that SPACE. The family piles into the mini-van and heads to the local independently owned garden center and asks the smart horticulturist/salesperson for advice.

The following conversation is had thousands of times in nurseries every single day:
“We tore it all out, now its a blank slate, what do we do?”
“In your perfect universe, this new plant would be how tall and how wide when its mature in 10 years?”

Now this story is about to go one of two very distinct ways:
1) “We never want anything over 2-3 feet tall and wide. We NEVER want to have to prune it, let alone even think about it.”
OR
2) “Why can’t I just put in that plant that wants to be 25 feet tall, I will simply prune it into submission? It worked for my Dad.”

So, where does that leave us with our choices and options for the right plant in the right place? The future is now, the forecast for spectacular selection of dwarf plants of ALL types has never been better, you really can have the best of both worlds. Breeders and growers are coming out with new dwarf cultivars of nearly everything. You won’t have to settle for not having a Lilac if you can’t fit a 9-12 foot shrub in your small space garden.

Lest you think I have forgotten my foliage obsession, here is where we REALLY start to get some excitement. You CAN have magnificent color, texture, layering and multi-season interest in small garden spaces by focusing on those new plant introductions available to you these days. Dive right in!

Pick your foliage color palette, stick to it, repeat often and then break all the rules. :-) There is simply no need to comply with rigid old standards of cramming giant plants up against the house when you have so many foliage forward options to drool over that are low maintenance, colorful and elegant.

The forecast? Our new sized lots have forced us to change how we design our gardens and landscapes. We mix edibles with ornamentals and we focus on layering in some gorgeous foliage that FITS our space rather than forcing it to conform to our lack of selection. And we are vastly more fortunate than our grandparents to have such a huge selection of stunning foliage choices to try out every year.

What are you still doing here? Get out and shop for some NEW FOLIAGE for your landscape!!

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