We tend to forget that not all our wonderful readers also follow our foliage frolics on Facebook so in case you missed our announcement, here it is;
We have signed a contract with Timber Press to write a new book, tentatively called
It will be filled with even more leafy goodness but this time we will show you how to build a foliage picture frame or backdrop and layer in other design elements such as flowers or artwork. In other words we’ll show you the next step in our design process. We’ll have ideas for all four seasons and the clear layout you love will be essentially the same if not even better. If everything goes to plan it will be released in 2016. Stay tuned!
And now back to our regular program………………….
Last week we admitted to you our passion for Japanese maples. Actually we’re passionate about lots of leafy plants but Japanese maples are so versatile they give us oodles of design inspiration. They are available in all shapes and sizes, varying leaf textures and colors and many are suited to container culture as well as the landscape.
With such staggering beauty it can be a little daunting to figure out what to put them with – and that’s where Team Fine Foliage comes in! Here’s what we would be looking for;
- Contrast in color either in all seasons or just focusing on one time of year
- Contrast in texture
- Either a contrast or repetition in form (shape of the tree)
- The WOW factor
To achieve all that my first thought is to explore the world of conifers.
From dwarfs to giants, all shades of blue, green and gold, different leaf textures and their unique shapes I can usually find something that will work. In their natural environment they are also found in association with one another which of course is a great design clue.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Opposites attract
Koto-no-ito Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Koto-no-ito) behind Wissel’s Saguaro false cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’)
This is all about contrasts; lacy leaves and delicate branches juxtaposed with stiff spires of deep blue-green needles, and the wide dome shape of the maple against the columnar form of the conifer. Yet the two also work in concert as warm colors of the maple are tempered and enhanced by Mr. Wissel (my pet name for this great conifer).
A unlikely pairing yet all the more beautiful for it.
2. Try the color-mush test
I’ve always loved blue toned conifers with red foliage and this combination shows how well the colors work together. I know the photo above is a rather ‘arty shot’ with the red maple in the background all fuzzy but actually that can be a helpful way to assess the basic shapes and colors without being distracted by the details. Try squinting to get a similar mushy effect.
Here’s the same combination photographed differently;
Now we can appreciate the fine foliage too. This Oregon Sunset maple (Acer palmatum ‘Oregon Sunset’) is quite short and so the rare low growing Home Park cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani ‘Home Park) has to grow in front rather than underneath.
You could get a similar effect using Blue Star juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’) under any upright red leaved maple such as Fireglow (Acer palmatum ‘Fireglow’)
3. Crayola combo!
What’s more beautiful than one Japanese maple? LOTS of Japanese maples! This glorious fall display celebrates the season in full technicolor with the aptly Crimson Queen (Acer p. ‘Crimson Queen’) in the foreground clearly the star. The vivid golden foliage behind is a Lions Mane maple (Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’) while the orange leaves forming an overhead canopy are from a Forest Pansy redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’) and Iijima sunago (Acer palmatum ‘Iijima sunago’) on the upper left.
This autumnal extravaganza needs a place for the eye to recover and the two conifers on the left provide that quiet visual resting space to do just that. Simple fanned foliage of a bright green Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gracilis’) together with the spiky Serbian spruce (Picea omorika) needles are both great choices.
When the last of the leaves have fallen and we are left with only our leafy memories, the stalwart conifers offer color, structure and a promise of a repeat performance next year.
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