Tag Archives: blue

Fine Foliage and the Glory of Fall

The entry drive at PowellsWood Garden.

While much of the country is beginning to feel the first tell-tale signs of fall, with cooler nights and even a first frost warning or two, in the Pacific Northwest, we frequently get the best of both worlds in late summer. We know how spoiled we are to be able to enjoy both seasons at once until the real fall hammer drops when the rains arrive. As I write this, my door is open this morning, and it will likely be 80 by dinner tonight.

In spite of that, our landscapes are all talking about the slow march to the true fall weather. Our abundant Japanese and native Vine maples are coloring up like crazy with the heat stress of our long drought this summer. Understandably, these trees are tired and ready for rest soon, but we will enjoy them as long as we can!

The conifers of all kinds are gearing up to takes the center stage for winter soon. The stately weeping hemlocks in this photo are protected from the heat of summer under the broad canopy of a giant fir tree as well as the dappled canopy of the maples. They lend such a fine texture, blue-green foliage color, and the perfect scale for the mid-border.

One of my favorite things about the photo above is how the intensely colored spikes of blue fescue contrast with the orange of the vine maple. Blue and orange are always such happy friends on the foliage color wheel. A great point to make a note of if you are planning any changes or additions to your home landscape this fall.

When we zoom into the center of this bed, we can take note of even more amazing details. The hydrangea aspera (‘Plum Passion’) from Monrovia shows more purple color intensity on the foliage in a higher light location. In this dappled light, it is pale, but the pink veining and flowers are no less attractive and interesting at providing marvelous details.

Below the hydrangea, euphorbia a. robbiae (Mrs. Robb’s Bonnet) fills in densely with glossy green rosettes of foliage. This ground cover can strike fear in the heart of gardeners with its aggressive nature, so it’s one to plan and plant carefully. However, the cheerful yellow bloom bracts in late spring are so welcome after long winter. Once it’s done blooming, giving this plant a hard prune to tidy it up for the rest of the year, results in this textural backdrop for falling orange maple leaves.

Whether you are fully ready and committed to dismantling your summer garden now to enjoy fall, or if you are trying to squeeze every last ounce out of the late summer landscape, noting some of the fantastic details that make this “shoulder season” dramatic in its own way are a good way to be “in the moment” with your fine foliage design goals. 

Gardening with Foliage First is another way to see some excellent ideas for fall combination drama. And of course clicking the SUBSCRIBE button on your right brings this blog to your inbox monthly for even more ideas! 

Fine Foliage Dusted with Snow

My front sidewalk lined with alternating dwarf barberry and euonymus and powdered sugar like snow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had our first little snow event in the Seattle area this morning, so I just wanted to share a few shots of the lovely foliage. Well, the foliage close enough to while still in my jammies. 🙂

Nandina 'Gulf Stream' peeking up through the snow and showing her jaunty red in the white landscape this morning.

Nandina ‘Gulf Stream’ peeking up through the snow and showing her jaunty red in the white landscape this morning.

The tips on this little half-high blueberry in the pots that mark my front entry walk are beautiful in every month of the year. AND you get fruit!

The tips on this little half-high blueberry in the pots that mark my front entry walk are beautiful in every month of the year. AND you get fruit!

The foliage of sedum 'Angelina' go from gold to lime in winter. I LOVE how it looks in the lavender pot against the coral bells truly purple foliage ('Forever Purple').

The foliage of sedum ‘Angelina’ go from gold to lime in winter. I LOVE how it looks in the lavender pot against the coral bells grape- purple foliage (‘Forever Purple’).

Euonymous 'Silver King' holds up like a champ in all kinds of weather and the gold shows up so well too!

Euonymus ‘Silver King’ holds up like a champ in all kinds of weather and the gold shows up so well too!

Fine Foliage Dusted with Snow

Certain textures like this hebe are quite exaggerated with the snowy backdrop.

THIS is why I planted a variegated holly!

THIS is why I planted a variegated holly!

This 'Threadleaf' nandina looked SO pretty in the melting snow.

This ‘Threadleaf’ nandina looked SO lovely in the melting snow.

The stems where once intensely colored blue berries on this viburnum 'Davidii' reveal a rosy pink in the snow.

The stems where once intensely colored blue berries on this viburnum ‘Davidii’ reveal a rosy pink in the snow.

One of my favorite plants, Euphorbia 'Silver Swan' looks great in the snow too. I love that blue!

One of my favorite plants, Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’ looks great in the snow too. I love that blue!

Speaking of BLUE! This chamaecyperis is one of the bluest blues year round and looks great against the hydrangeas for most of the year, even with the dried flowers.

Speaking of BLUE! This chamaecyperis is one of the bluest blues year round and looks great against the hydrangeas for most of the year, even with the dried flowers.

The snow capped seed heads in black and brown of the Ninebark look neat weeping over under the weight of snow.

The snow capped seed heads in black and brown of the Ninebark look neat weeping over under the weight of snow.

Mexican Orange is not feeling like summer right now, but the golden glow of this evergreen foliage still brings us a bit of sun.

This Mexican Orange is not feeling like summer right now, but the golden glow of this evergreen foliage still brings us a bit of sun.

Since our new book "Gardening with Foliage First" is due out very soon, we feature berries, bark and all of the wonderful things that partner WITH great foliage. These bright red wintergreen berries are a wonderful example for winter.

Since our new book “Gardening with Foliage First” is due out very soon, we feature berries, bark and all of the beautiful things that partner WITH great foliage. These bright red wintergreen berries are an excellent example for winter.

 

Ready for winter now? This is a good time to be inside and taking stock of your winter landscape to see how everything looks in the colder months and where you can tweak or add some more interest to your garden of foliage.

If you’re still doing some holiday shopping, consider (click the link) pre-ordering “Gardening with Foliage First” for the gardeners on your list and they will get it just after the New Year to begin planning their landscape for 2017!

Happy Holidays, CHEERS!

 

 

BIG Blue Foliage

While out watering my garden the other evening, I was STRUCK by how handsome this Lawson’s blue cypress is in particular at this time of the year when paired with the summer pink blooms on my ‘Quickfire’ Hydrangeas that snuggle closely to it right at my back gate. This bold blue color has SO much personality!
Lawson's Blue CypressThat’s not to say that I haven’t written about this combo at other times of the year too, such as in fall when the hydrangea foliage has a lovely golden glow against the blue, or in spring when the hydrangea blooms are creamy white and pristine. It’s just that right now- that pink and blue combo is dee-lightfully summery and more feminine than I typically favor. If you saw the BOLD orange container combo directly in front of this scene, you would know that I’m typically not someone who does “dainty”. 🙂

This got me thinking about other blue foliage that may not necessarily always be large in stature but are sure filled with BIG personality. So off we go exploring a few…..

Honeybush, Melianthus majorHoney Bush or Melianthus major is a tropical with a ton of BIG personality all right! Whether it’s an annual or a reliable perennial where you live, brush by it and you won’t forget its Peanut Butter scent. If it reaches its full-sized potential of 6-8 ft tall and wide or even wider then it’s REALLY happy, and you will be rewarded with deep red flower spikes. The foliage looks as if someone cut it with fancy edged scissors and it looks just as beautiful when droplets of water or dew balance on the leaves like few other plants.

Blue Chalk Fingers, #SucculentsBlue Chalk Fingers or Serpents Fingers Senecio vitalis ‘Serpents‘, talk about a name for a small plant with BIG personality! If you love succulents, whether this one is an annual or a year round evergreen for you, this is one that you need to play with at some point in your gardening life. THAT blue is just so, well….BLUE!!!

Dianthus I just want you to imagine this scene above without that showy ribbon of BLUE Dianthus foliage running through the middle of this display. See? The blue makes the violet shades even MORE violet!

Hosta 'Blue Angel' Not to be outdone on any level, the sheer size and voluptuous nature of this giant hosta ‘Blue Angel’ is a sheer spectacle of blue foliage with BIG personality all right! This photo really does not do justice to show the scale and size of these giant leaves at roughly 12″ across. A heavy bloomer, hummingbird favorite and less favorable to slugs, this easy perennial pairs well with all kind of flowers and shrubs. Wink wink, nudge nudge….look for this one to appear in Gardening with Foliage First due out in 2017!

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Rhythm, Jazz and the Blues

When we are choosing what I like to call the backbone of the color palette in the garden, I  frequently remind my clients that they need to remember to keep a few colors in repetition throughout the entire landscape to visually hold it all together. In other words, you should be able to take a passing glance across a swath of landscape or even a small vignette and your eyes should be able to hit a similar color tone like a musical beat, in regular intervals. This creates a visual rhythm, it can be all kinds of foliage that brings the musicality together, but it can also be art and accessories too.

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The ‘Lawson’s’ Cypress above is going to be spectacular in a few years as its columnar structure brings some much-needed verticality to the fat bushiness of the hydrangea’s.

I was brainstorming in the garden last night when I suddenly realized how somewhat subconsciously I had used the color blue into my foliage much more than I had really realized. I knew I had tied in the accessories, but although I adore blue foliage, I hadn’t really noticed until just then how prominent it was really becoming in my own landscape. So, I thought I would take you on a little tour of my own private “Blues and Jazz Club” here in the ‘burbs of Seattle. 😉

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As we move across my tiny garden, you notice my accessories of a vivid turquoise blue. The umbrella and the obelisk for my container of jasmine are bright and happy even on a cloudy summer day!

20140804-CS_IMG_410520140804-CS_IMG_4106Then a small river of watery blues in tumbled glass takes your eye up to one of my beloved pedestal containers where a piece of art glass (by Barbara Sanderson of Glass Gardens NW) is part of the planted combination where blue is prominent. The chalky blue foliage of the Melianthus is striking!

20140804-CS_IMG_4112The lovely thing about blue foliage is that you can use it in shades and tones, just like greens. Some are more silvery and some lean towards more gray-green with just hints of blue.

How about the showy blue foliage of the Parahebe perfoliata with a strong purple back up singer?! (Glass flower by Glass Gardens NW)

How about the showy blue foliage of the Parahebe perfoliata with a strong purple back up singer?! (Glass flower by Glass Gardens NW)

20140804-CS_IMG_4108I think that gardeners really underestimate just how beautiful blueberries can be simply for the foliage! That blue-green foliage has so much personality. And when I can reap the berry-liscious rewards for having them so close to my back door, even better!

20140804-CS_IMG_4152The blue foliage and white margins of the Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’ are lovely with the lavender Agastache, the deep green of the pine and more of my glass collection. (Bee Preserver and glass float are from Glass Gardens NW).

Euphorbia 'Rigida' has been on my list to find forever, FINALLY I got it! That foliage hits lots of my happy little OCD buttons as a Virgo. As it gets older, you will see what I mean when I post more photos. But here against the backdrop of another wonderful blue foliage in the form of Hebe 'Quicksilver' they make a fine pairing of two blue textures.

Euphorbia ‘Rigida’ has been on my list to find forever, FINALLY I got it! That foliage hits lots of my happy little OCD buttons as a Virgo. As it gets older, you will see what I mean when I post more photos. But here against the backdrop of another wonderful blue foliage in the form of Hebe ‘Quicksilver’ they make a fine pairing of two blue textures.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Blue Surprise' sits among some golds, burgundy and greens as a lone blue standout.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Blue Surprise’ sits among some golds, burgundy and greens as a lone blue standout.

20140804-CS_IMG_4131I suppose it must stand to reason that I have been using blue conifers as a VERY consistent vertical design element without really considering that I was doing it. I was just picking what I loved, which is the big “do as I say, not as I do” moment for many of my clients, right?
This particular conifer is a favorite of BOTH Karen Chapman and myself as we both have a particular affinity for this ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’ false cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’). You can read more about Karen Chapman’s use of this plant here in her blog, Le Jardinet.

Even a little hint of steely, intense blue as with this Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia 'Blue Ice') are enough to draw a color combination together with other spaces in the garden.

Even a little hint of steely, intense blue as with this Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia ‘Blue Ice’) are enough to draw a color combination together with other spaces in the garden.

20140804-CS_IMG_4213Even outside my back gate, a little combination of plants that tolerate the abuse of being forgotten outside my regular view brings the blues in with an iridescent glazed pot and blue succulents.

20140804-CS_IMG_4229A new blue pine standard found a home here last week, so it sits in its temporary pot with a friendly and somewhat slow-growing Ginkgo shrub ‘Munchkin’ sitting above it make a cute little blue pairing.

20140804-CS_IMG_4196This concludes our tour of my own mini ‘House of Blues’. Who knows, next year maybe my color kick will be something completely “out of the blue”! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one. 😉

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Matching the Plant to the Pot

A shallow yellow gold is the perfect vessel to display these succulents.

A shallow yellow container is the perfect vessel to display these succulents.

What’s even better than fabulous foliage? Fabulous foliage in an equally fabulous pot!

We recently had the opportunity to present a fun foliage-focused seminar at Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco. Our visit there proved to be one of the highlights of that trip and we spent several hours  taking photographs of the inspirational plant selection and creative displays. (As well as sampling yummy carrot cake and some seriously good coffee).

Soft blue-greens make an elegant monochromatic statement with the aqua containers

Soft blue-greens make an elegant monochromatic statement with the aqua containers

I love anything in blue, from deep cobalt to bright turquoise and have two of these containers in my own garden. Any one of these blue-green succulents above would look right at home in the shimmery blue pots, perhaps with a little silver added for sparkle. Wormwood (Artemisia) perhaps? Or the metallic silver bush (Convolvulus cneorum)? Or even Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ cascading over the edge? Of course a blend of all three of these succulents would have great contrast in texture and form.

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Sometimes all you need is one plant in a pot

Bromeliads are typically grown for their brightly colored flowers but the beauty  shown above is a stunning blend of purple and chartreuse, perfectly showcased in this purple container by Le Beau. Who needs flowers?

This single orange succulent becomes the star in the equally vibrant pot

This single orange succulent becomes the star in the equally vibrant pot

I particularly loved the way the nursery had showcased their extensive selection of succulents with brightly colored containers, finding perfect color partners and bold shapes to highlight their unique foliage colors; the orange bowl above is a great example. These plants all require sharp drainage and similar light conditions and since they are short do best in a shallow table top container where they can really be enjoyed up close.

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Such subtle detail – can you see the way this green container is the exact same shade as the foliage? Not only that but now you are looking closely you can appreciate the soft yellow variegation and hint of rosy-red which brushes each leaf tip.

Flora Grubb Gardens specializes in drought tolerant succulents (although there were lots of other great plants too), but this simple design trick can be used to make the most of any plant from an indoor favorite to a Japanese maple.

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Thank you to everyone at Flora Grubb Gardens for making us so welcome and to the our new foliage-loving friends that we met at the seminar!