Tag Archives: Burgundy

Design Goals in the Garden for 2017

RHS Wisley 2016

RHS Wisley 2016

After looking over my photos of gardens that I visited in 2016 as well as my own, I am feeling the need to review some design choices I have made in the last few years. When you’re inside on a 25-degree day in Seattle, sunny though it may be, there’s no better time to start thinking ahead. The garden show season, garden tours and nursery hopping will be upon all of us hort-nerds soon enough and I want to have at least a minor plan of attack.

Maybe you need more bold colors of foliage in your spring and summer garden like the energetic heuchera above that provides a wonderful color echo to the elegant Japanese maple in the background.

Color echo with Hydrangea and Japanese maple

Or for the late summer and early fall, maybe you need to consider the color echo that this incredible hydrangea and maple duo bring in deep plum tones!

Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Chelsea Flower Show 2016

OR if you are a flower person in your heart of hearts but you are here with Team Fine Foliage because you need a leafy nudge to balance your impulses, then maybe adding more repetition is in order. The floriferous notes in any garden stand out better when you pick one color and texture in a foliage plant and use it to its fullest with repetition. This could just as easily have been boxwood and have a very traditional look, but the use of the silver foliage of this Senecio is much more interesting!

Paperbark maple

Paperbark maple

Maybe you are craving more interesting details in your landscape such as fascinating bark, berries, rock or art. Well, Team Fine Foliage certainly will have you covered there for 2017 when “Gardening with Foliage First” becomes available SOON!!! 

A sumptuous feast of fall color here!

A sumptuous feast of fall color here!

Our tendency as trapped winter garden designers is to load up the landscape with all things spring when we’re first let out of the house and released into the wilds of the garden center. But, it’s so important to make sure that you’re also thinking about the important and colorful transformation of color that happens in late summer and early fall. So, keep that in mind when you’re planning!

Foliage BONANZA! :-)

Foliage BONANZA! 🙂

Here is a snippet from one of my favorite little sections in my own garden that I am considering revamping a tad this year. I welcome your thoughts about what you might do. It’s jammed packed I know, but that my style and that likely won’t change, but other than that, bring it on. Give me some ideas designers! 

Let us know what YOUR leafy goals are for your landscape in 2017. Post a comment, we would love to hear from all of you in this upcoming and exciting year of the “Foliage First” garden! 

 

A Stormy Day for Fine Foliage

Stormy Day Fine Foliage

Left to right; ‘Rainbow’ Leaucothoe is showing off some new cold weather burgundy foliage for winter. A favorite conifer Thuja Occidentalis ‘Rheingold’ is coloring up nicely for winter as it warms up with orange and amber tones. My STAR conifer in this bed is Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’ he is growing in nicely! Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ is a soft accent texture in the small bed with its swaying plumes. Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ is the toughest character in this little gang, drought tolerant with foliage that has interesting color changes through the entire year. Down low is Nandina ‘Gulf Stream’ giving a bold red uplight to the group next to the more somber deep tones of the ‘Crimson Pygmy’ Barberry.

When rain, wind and flooding storms are pummeling both the East and West coasts at the same time, it can seem like there is no reason to find joy in the garden, but Fine Foliage is here to cheer you on and say YES! There are always gorgeous things to be appreciated in the garden no matter the weather. I ran outside in my jammies THIS MORNING and took a few shots in my own garden to show you that it is true!

You just have to do a little simple planning. In fact I kind of enjoy the challenge of proving this point, I get to go to the nursery and browse and that’s always a fun job. 😉

So, how do WE do it? It means that when it is NOT ugly, dark, gray and wet, you have to stand out in the glaring sunshine in spring or summer with one eagle eye imagining THIS day to come. I often take my clients outside on a gray day such as this, all of us in our rain gear, umbrellas in hand and I ask them to stand at the driveway and imagine what exactly they want to see when they pull the car up after a hard day of work. Do you want neat clean and tidy clipped hedges? Can Do! Do you want COLOR? Can do! We just have to be thinking about in earlier in the year and talk about WHAT COLOR MEANS for the garden in fall and winter.

Inevitably, a client will say “What about all of the flowers?” Well, that’s a bit tougher. Even in our mild climate in the Northwest. Viola’s and Pansies are not terribly big fans of our constant rain and it’s a little early to appreciate many Hellebore and Primroses in bloom yet.

Cryptomeria 'Black Dragon' anchors this combo pot, paired with a lovely native Mahonia nervosa blushing in the cold with a subtle purple, Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie' gives a large leaf respite to all of the smaller foliage detail. The lacy and vibrant purple Kale is perfect snuggled with 'Ducksfoot' Ivy peeking out around the base of the pot.

Cryptomeria ‘Black Dragon’ anchors this combo pot, paired with a lovely native Mahonia nervosa blushing in the cold with a subtle purple, Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’ giving a large leaf respite to all of the smaller foliage detail. The lacy and vibrant purple Peacock Red’ Ornamental Kale is perfect snuggled with Ducksfoot’ Ivy peeking out around the base of the pot. The cut Red Twig Dogwood twigs in this pot add just the right touch of bright red for the season too!

Just look at all of the COLOR we have with no flowers! This is just what Fine Foliage in your garden does the very best. It gives these cold, drab days with seemingly nothing to see a focus, a point to look at that warms your heart and makes you feel that every time of the year is worth appreciating in the garden. Rain or shine Fine Foliage can be found everywhere if you just look!

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The Color Spectrum of Thanks

Rainbow Leucothoe in Winter
As we writers furiously work on our forthcoming book (Working title “Foliage First” from Timber Press out in 2016), the blog is a particularly nice place for us to take a quiet moment during this Thanksgiving week and reflect on the abundance in our lives in all of its glorious colors.
Not only do we want to convey the vast amount of grace and joy we experience in bringing Fine Foliage to YOU every day and every week, but we wanted to take time to look at the number of ways that our thankfulness is manifested from large to small, from subtle to bold, from public to private and all the ways in between.
The lovely rainbow of colors on the Leucothoe foliage above reminded me of this today. Obviously, it is called ‘Rainbow’ for it’s multitude of colors but it represents so much more when you really think about it. This plant begins with such subtle maneuvers with its spring tones of cream and green and gradually builds excitement as the temperatures rise. I NEVER tire of admiring this in spring as the quiet marbling begins to roll. I begin the growing season thankful for the elegant and understated display.
Then summer brings on the WOW factor of the most divine coral-colored new growth. It is a whole new reason to appreciate what Mother Nature created in the small space of a shrub like this one. When paired with the sassy new growth on a ‘Magic Carpet’ Spirea, it is incredible! I adore the opportunity to ogle this combination and the energy it brings to the garden in summer with hardy, easy-going shrubs.
As fall and winter approach the color deepens. It begins to get richer and warmer as is the case with so many wonderful plants that color up with the cold. Though this shrub stays evergreen here in our mild northwest climate rather than the multitude of deciduous shrubs and trees that draw our attention during this time, we tend to forget the ones that stay with us and still change color anyway. They don’t ask us for the bold adoration of tourists coming to visit for the short burst of the season, they slowly deepen their colors and enrich all those around it.
Kind of like those people in all of our lives who remain steadfast and true. The ones that you might take for granted on a daily basis when your attention is on some dazzling shooting star for the moment.
I like to believe that I endeavor to take notice of ALL the changes in my garden and my loved ones in all of the seasons of the year and not just when they have a shining moment. Those day-to-day moments of appreciating the love, abundance and beauty all around us are worth remembering this week of thanks, no matter what color it is that they present themselves.
This week, take a breath, pause to enjoy your families, friends and all of the blessings that the colors in your world bring.
Warmest wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving foliage fanatics!
Christina & Karen

Elevated Edibles & Giveaway!

IMG_4948Sometimes you see a great design – and sometimes you see something that is  exceptional, especially when you begin to sift through the layers of loveliness and see why it works.

So let me take this cabbage extravaganza apart for you.

The Foliage Framework

Wonderful bold foliage of  golden yew forms a carpet

Wonderful bold foliage of golden yew forms a carpet

Paintings often benefit from a picture frame and this container is perfectly framed with sunny foliage. Overhead the golden locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’) rustles in the breeze while at the pedestal base a prostrate form of golden yew (Taxus cuspidata ‘Nana Aurescens’) repeats the color on stiff branches.

Connections

Cleverly linking these two are trailing strands of golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummelaria ‘Aurea’) cascading from the container.

Wonderful layers of color and texture

Wonderful layers of color and texture

The container itself is a feast of color and texture with the bold cabbage clearly being the focal point. Behind it Ascot Rainbow spurge (Euphorbia) explodes with a froth of flowers and foliage in shades of soft blue-green and buttery yellow accented by rose colored stems and new growth at the end of each branch, Those warm tones are what makes the rich cranberry flowers of the Choca Mocha cosmos look so perfectly at home.

The elevated edible

By placing the container on a pedestal this becomes a real showpiece and a great example of how focal points and foliage go hand in hand.

Learn more about Foliage and Focal Points – for FREE!

Now here’s an exciting offer that you can’t possibly refuse!

The British half of Team Fine Foliage (i.e. me; Karen) is launching an exciting garden design course on Craftsy called…..FOLIAGE AND FOCAL POINTS and our fabulous book is the recommended text! So to celebrate the launch AND the gold award Fine Foliage has just received we are offering one free course  plus a signed copy of our book to a lucky winner.

Click HERE to enter!

Already a Craftsy user (addictive isn’t it?!) then just follow the link and you’re set. New to Craftsy? You’ll love it! You can use the link to sign up for free then you will also be entered to win. Craftsy has all sorts of cool classes from gardening to photography and woodwork – check it out!

The lucky winner will be notified on the day my class goes LIVE – September 9th. Oh and the wonderful elevated edible combo? That’s from the class 🙂

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Subtle yet Powerful

Design by Brandon Vanden Eykel, Qualitree

Design by Brandon Vanden Eykel, Qualitree

Christina and I are easily excited I admit. Show us some fabulous foliage and we’re all of a twitter as we start brainstorming where to put it, what to pair it with and how we can justify buying it. Perhaps the only thing we derive (almost) as much pleasure from is teaching others foliage focused design.

I recently had the opportunity to visit two plant growers in British Columbia; Van Belle Nursery and Qualitree. You probably aren’t familiar with those names but I’m sure you’ll be familiar with their fabulous plants both in the USA and Canada. These are the nurseries that grow conifers, shrubs, perennials and more from tiny cuttings. These are then sold to the wholesale nurseries who in turn sell them to the retail nurseries where you shop.

Both these companies wanted to improve their ready-made container designs and so called me in to teach them how.

This particular design was probably my favorite out of the several dozen we created over those two days. The designer was Brendan Vanden Eykel of Qualitree and he immediately ‘got it’ when I demonstrated how to start with a great foliage plant, (our spotlight plant)  look for something to enhance it (highlight) then add the final touch – whether that be something wild and unexpected or a continuation of the theme (limelight).

In Brandon’s own words;

“I love designing planters (one of my passions) and after your presentation I see things totally different and it was right in front of me the whole time. “

Photo courtesy of Qualitree

Photo courtesy of Qualitree

That’s just it – it’s about looking at the foliage for design clues and working from there. Here’s how Brandon built the planter;

SPOTLIGHT

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Japanese painted fern; this was the starting point with the silvery grays setting off the striking burgundy veins

HIGHLIGHT

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To highlight the burgundy vein of the fern he added a small size purple smoke bush. This will quickly outgrow the pot of course but this was about teaching design principles and also creating ‘grab and go’ planters.

LIMELIGHT

Rather than adding a wild card Brendan chose to keep to this muted monochromatic color palette which I just loved. Qualitree is known for its amazing heathers, specifically Calluna. This one had soft pink flowers on dark green foliage so added a pretty floral accent,

FINISHING TOUCH

There was still bare soil showing and of course we couldn’t have that so a mix of blue-green and dusky purple succulents were added to act as a groundcover and link everything together. These succulents were grown as a mat so he literally cut pieces off to add to the planter.

Coming soon to a store near you……

ON A SEPARATE NOTE

We have a FABULOUS giveaway next week so be sure to tell all your friends about our blog for a chance to win a very special online garden design course AND a signed copy of our book! That’s all I’m telling you for now….

Spring Slump Solution!

The daffodils are a tangle of decaying foliage, the tulips are long since collapsed and the roses are still tight buds. What is holding your garden design together during this in-between stage?

You can bet that your two foliage divas have got this one down – it’s all about having a framework of trees, shrubs and perennials with great leaves – whether they bloom or not.

Here’s a photo from my garden taken a few days ago.

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In March there was a haze of yellow daffodils at the base of each arbor post – an early spring highlight but those green leaves don’t offer much in this May scene. Instead almost all the color is from layers of foliage.

Here are the key players;

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Forever Goldie arborvitae (Thuja plicata ‘Forever Goldie’)

Stunning evergreen conifer – one of my favorites for year round color

 

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Fireglow Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Fireglow’)

Retains the deep red foliage well and takes full sun

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Doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’)

Tiers of luscious leaves AND spring flowers!

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Double Play Gold spirea (Spiraea j. ‘Double Play Gold’)

We’ve told you about this beauty before.

 

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Golden Ruby barberry (Berberis t. ‘Golden Ruby’)

It hasn’t developed its distinctive gold margin yet – but it will! A neat little dumpling of a barberry. (Barberry is invasive in some states but not in the Seattle area)

IMG_0505Blue Star juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’)

Reliable and tough – we both have this on our top ten list for color and performance.

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Golden locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’)

Our signature tree! I admit to having five in my garden – two in this border alone. (This may sucker in some areas but has never done so in my gardens)

 

So you want flowers too?

IMG_3633 IMG_2953

 

Well there are two blooming exbury azaleas strutting their stuff – but I bet you had to look twice to find them both!

A few extra tips;

Color – sunset tones dominate with just a little grey-blue for contrast

Maintenance – everything has to be deer resistant and drought tolerant (by its second year)

Maturity – this border was planted in 2012. Honestly!

IMG_8854This is only its third year – this photo was taken in March 2012 – use the Forever Goldie arborvitae as a reference point. Miracles do happen – if you pay attention to the FOLIAGE!

What’s  your favorite foliage to combat the spring slump?

Need even more foliage inspiration?

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The Blushing Beauties of the Spring Garden

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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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