Tag Archives: Carex

Simple, Straightforward and Serene Foliage

Sweet, Simple and Serene FoliageAs Team Fine Foliage recovers from the Northwest Flower and Garden Show week, the official launch to the local gardening public of Gardening with Foliage First and as of today Karen Chapman is officially a “Nana”, we’re truly in recovery. So this post about “simplicity” seemed SO appropriate right now. 🙂

This shot above from the show last week was taken from the garden designed by Nature Perfect Landscape and Design, it was a crowd favorite for sure! But, for our purposes today, I’m only showing you this small portion of it even though there was MUCH more to it.

So why DOES this work so beautifully? It was SIMPLE! Groundcover plants were strategically used in this geometric patio design along with polished river rock and pavers. Small ‘Gold Moss’ stonecrop positively glows in this setting and having the black mondo grass as a contrast along with one of the many shades of Club Moss lining the wood pile/boulder seating space make it almost a magical detail that drew many many raves.

Simple, Straightforward and Serene FoliageThis small section from a garden design at the show also provided a great lesson in simplicity. Using golden sweet flag grass in multiples as a groundcover in this space looked sophisticated and would stay low around the spheres and dwarf rhododendrons. Designed by Jefferson Sustainable Landscape Management and Avid Landscape Design, the other elements in this display were fantastic as well!
Simple, Straightforward and Serene FoliageLast but certainly NOT least is “Mid-Mod-Mad….It’s Cocktail Hour in the Garden” another of my very favorite award-winning designs at the show from creator Father Nature Landscapes and designer Sue Goetz. Though I’m not showing you all of the display here, to further our point on simplicity, this one is a very good showing!

Proving the point that you don’t need 800 different types of plant material to have an excellent design. Sue chose to use lots and lots of Orange Sedge to surround and fill this space and bring your eye to the fire bowl, seating area and water feature in the background. Water loving umbrella grass sits in the water giving a nice vertical look on the colorful wall.

There you have a quick look at simple and serene ideas for using foliage repetition with a small palette of plants. Hope you enjoyed a few photos from the show, I’m sure you will see MANY more in future posts.

Cheers to catching our breath!

If you liked this post and want to see more ideas in our latest book Gardening with Foliage First that’s burning up the charts 🙂 Click here! 

A Perfect 10 – Foliage Plants for August Refreshment

August of 2015 has been a continuation of an epic drought for much of the country. When the landscape is looking much more BROWN than normal in the dog days of summer, finding cool and refreshing foliage sounds pretty darn great!

Gold Caryopteris is a wonderful contrast to this vibrant Liatris.

Gold Caryopteris is a wonderful contrast to this vibrant Liatris.

A simple post this week that demonstrates ALL photos taken in the heat of August, and featuring lemon-fresh, cool foliage combination ideas for you to consider in your landscape. Some for sun, some for shade, but many that are easy to create in your own garden.

Hopefully these ideas are both inspiring and refreshing at the same time! 

Deep red barberry with a wonderfully defined gold ring around the edge is fab sitting out over the 'Lemon-Fizz' Santolina underneath.

Deep red barberry with a wonderfully defined gold ring around the edge is fab sitting out over the ‘Lemon-Fizz’ Santolina underneath.

Spirea 'Ogon' is a knock-out next to this dramatic black Actea.

Spirea ‘Ogon’ is a knock-out next to this dramatic black Actea.

How PERFECT is this dramatic black entry flanked by golden arborvitae?

How PERFECT is this dramatic black entry flanked by golden arborvitae?

Yucca 'Bright Star' positively glows against this blue container with sparkly blue gravel top-dressing.

Yucca ‘Bright Star’ positively glows against this blue container with sparkly blue gravel top-dressing.

Even this small speck of Sedum 'Angelina' makes a huge statement when next to the royal purple of simple lobelia.

Even this small speck of Sedum ‘Angelina’ makes a huge statement when next to the royal purple of simple lobelia.

Uplighting this collectors Japanese maple, a dwarf Ginkgo is THE feature element in a container with the bright chartreuse color.

Uplighting this collectors Japanese maple, a dwarf Ginkgo is THE feature element in a container with the bright chartreuse color.

 

Gold Spike Moss can be finicky about finding its happy spot, but when you do...... :-)

Gold Spike Moss can be finicky about finding its happy spot, but when you do…… 🙂

Gold Carex grass is a perfect companion for this garden art.

Gold Carex grass is a perfect companion for this garden art.

Gold Mexican Orange is epic placed next to the blooms of the Dwarf Russian Sage.

Gold Mexican Orange is epic placed next to the blooms of the Dwarf Russian Sage.

So what looks refreshing as a lemonade stand on a hot summer day in your garden right now?  Tell us about it in the comments below or post a photo to our Facebook page; we’d love to hear your news.

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Late Summers Groovy Grasses

Late Summers Groovy GrassesWhether your intention is to create a nod to the meadows of grasses and flowers designed by the legendary Piet Oudolf  or to simply add some soft billowy texture to the landscape, adding a little zing with grasses is gratifying and much easier than most people believe.

Chanticleer
You have hundreds of amazing options no matter what your design goals. Some gardeners may just want a little textural difference from the standard variety of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and the low maintenance benefits of ornamental grasses are hard to resist.

Late Summer's Groovy GrassesRefined and elegant, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ has a thin white margin on the center of the blade giving it the advantage over other more plain grasses and where you may want a lighter color to a space. Topping out at only 5ft. tall it also has a quite narrow base so that getting other plants right in up close in tight spaces is not difficult as you can see above.

Late Summers Groovy Grasses

Certain grasses are out and showing off long before the first week of August, but many are just beginning to hit their stride for the late months of the gardening year. This week, we’re focusing  on those later grasses.

Above is a VERY fun grass with and equally fun name to say- Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blond Ambition’,  which is airy and light and needs to be either mass planted or to have a nice bold leaf to set against and be able to shine as a specimen.

Late Summers Groovy Grasses
The award-winning Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ is a designers dream as it tall and narrow so it can be used not only in tight spaces, but in repetition in rows and give a modern, elegant look as well as above in a casual easy breezy way. The wheat-like blooms are both sturdy and showy from a distance.

LAte Summers Groovy GrassesStipa tenuissima ‘Mexican Feather Grass’ is a lovely option for a small growth habit in a grass, and one that has a fun personality. It comes out a fresh spring green and then in summer it begins to turn a sandy light beige. Team Fine Foliage is aware that in some locations across the count try it can be invasive, so be sure to check with your local independent garden center or horticulturist if this is one you should be avoiding. But if it’s one for you, you will have a hard time not petting it and feeling the silky softness as you walk by it.

Late Summers Groovy GrassesPennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ is a fountain grass and if low maintenance is your thing, try it with an amazing lavender with impeccable performance like Lavandula x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’ and you will see this combo check off many of your design boxes. This is a very tough grass that can be quite drought tolerant once established. It blooms with these “bunny-tail” blooms that are delightful to touch and when paired with the lavender blooms that come on earlier the duo it showy for months on end. In fall the grass will take on some elegant golden and apricot highlights and hold tight without falling apart for the majority of winter. It gets cut back in spring and you are off the races again.

Late Summers Groovy Grasses
As the Hydrangea paniculata ‘Angel Blush’ or ‘Tardiva’ change to their deeper rose tones in late summer and autumn, you can rely on Eulalia grass or Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’  for a taller, elegant option for pairing up with this large-scale shrub. The glittering blooms on this grass shine in the sunlight and give sparkle to whatever they are near.

For more information, garden writer Nancy Ondra wrote a beautiful book on grasses and designing with them, I highly recommend it! She is a masterful designer and it was my first go-to resource on grasses in my own hort-library.

What groovy grasses have you planted this summer? Leave us a comment below or tell us on Facebook!

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New Zealand Sends Fine Foliage to Seattle

New Zealand Garden Are you ready to go on a little adventure walk with me? C’mon, we will go see some amazing foliage! In the summer of 2012, the Arboretum Foundation of Seattle began installation of one small part of a larger puzzle called Pacific Connections; an Eco-geographic display of native flora and fauna from regions such as Cascadia, Australia, China, Chile and New Zealand with similar climate features to our own in the Seattle area.

The phase of the project I’m showing off today is the New Zealand Forest. There is a plethora of wonderfully well written articles to read that will give you some in-depth understanding of what this all entails from the preparation of the site to the plant selection. Here is a piece that is for the plant collectors out there!
I wish that I could give you all of the proper plant names for these shots right now, but unfortunately, I didn’t have time to get them as these shots were taken last fall on a VERY cold day and I was getting numb! The incredible Cistus Nursery outside of Portland Oregon is supplying plants for this exhibit, so you may find the vast majority in this catalog. Here is another resource for plant names as well. As time will allow, I will go back and update some of these names for you, or if you are a Hort-Head like me, feel free to leave a comment with a plant name.

New Zealand Garden, Seattle ArboretumThe foliage combinations are really the main focus here anyway. So, take the lesson in use of the colors and textures and apply them to your own climate and design style. The shot above deftly shows this plant with purple stems and silver foliage that bears an almost Holly-like detail on the leaf next to what appears to be an Ilex shrub. The contrast of the two is a blend of wild and refined. I LOVE it!

New Zealand Garden, Seattle ArboretumDrought tolerant plants are efficient in the higher elevations of New Zealand as well as in the Seattle area too. You might never imagine that our region can be quite drought ridden at times when we have SUCH a reputation for rain. But, grasses like this beautiful silver Astelia in the foreground are great with sharp drainage. Small leaved plants are also the big winners too as they can handle the heat in summer and deflect rain well in heavy, wet winters.

New Zealand Garden, Seattle ArboretumPittosporum tenuifolium ‘Elizabeth’ is the plant on the right of this photo. I adore the black stems with the white variegation, plus the growth habit is tidy too!

New Zealand Garden, Seattle ArboretumTo the left of the rock, different cultivars of Hebes grow in tidy mounds while a Green New Zealand Flax or Phormium stands up tall giving a sword-like foliage texture for them to snuggle against. The ground cover filling in here is the gorgeous ‘Purple Haze’ Acaena, one that I am going to bring into my own garden this season. I love it with the autumn color of the tree in the background.

Acaena 'Purple Haze' is the carpet of groundcover from which this lovely dark Carex grass emerges.

Acaena ‘Purple Haze’ is the carpet of ground cover from which this lovely dark Carex grass emerges.

New Zealand Garden, Seattle ArboretumNew Zealand Garden, Seattle ArboretumAnother elegant example of the Variegated Pittosporum and grass textures together, planted next to the Purple foliage color Pittosporum ‘Atropurpureum’ or Purple Kohuhu.

New Zealand Garden, Seattle ArboretumI noticed these in the distance and at first thought they were Rhododendrons, of course they aren’t but, I adore the growth habit of these small trees. This shot is cropped from quite a distance, so I didn’t have the where with all to climb down the small ravine to investigate- but they are BEAUTIFUL!

New Zealand Garden, Seattle ArboretumThe green New Zealand Flax in the “Hebe/Heath” section is such a brilliant textural contrast to the bushy plants in the foreground from the Heath family. The rich, green, upright Heath are perfectly suited for the “Emerald City” as Seattle is known, and the lower bushy ones with a slightly burgundy stem are Hebe.

I hope that you enjoyed our quick little stroll through a garden of foliage that might ordinarily be out of reach for many of us to visit in its native land. The Arboretum Foundation is a doing a masterful job at bringing the world to Seattle in a garden!

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Frappuccino of Succulents

Copy of April 2010 Miscellanous Container Pics 025Sometimes when you’re cooking, you just throw things in a bowl and see what happens. This was exactly the case here! Inspiration struck me with this luscious root-beer color glaze on the container. Though, not normally a color I would gravitate to using in design, I was challenged to design a combination using those colors to stretch my design chops a little bit. This little Frappuccino, as I like to call it, is what I came up with!
Sedum nussbaumerianum and Sedum stonecrop in 4″ pots were planted evenly around to pot since this was meant to be seen from all sides as possibly a low table centerpiece for summer. Then a small Carex testacea, ‘Orange Sedge’ was the center piece for this yummy creation. It doesn’t even need a drizzle of caramel sauce. 🙂

Have FUN with your foliage in 2014!

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The Bold and the Blissful

Gardens that are fortunate to have shade or part sun, have design options for special effects with foliage colors and textures that the full sun gardens envy. It’s imperative to take notice of the high contrast details from every angle, they’re worth ogling!

This series of photos illustrates some combinations of plants where the bold leaves in all of their drama, meets the delicate, lacy, strappy, exquisite tendrils, fronds, and froth of smaller foliage. Some of the photos are simply pointing out foliage details that ought to be noted!
Slide1Gold variegated Yucca on the left and a white variegated Daylily both rise boldly from the fluff of Ajuga flowers in spring.
Slide2Hosta is a never ending source of options for combinations of both striking and delicate in a small area. Small space gardeners rejoice! On the left, this clean white variegated Hosta is paired with fragrant Sarcococca humulis. On the right is a blue and gold painted Hosta with a fluffy chartreuse fern. Both design companions highlight each plants strength beautifully.

Slide3The old-fashioned lace of this fern, Athyrium n. ‘Ghost’ unfurling in front of the seersucker texture of the Hosta in the background is pure composition bliss.

Slide4Keeping the color palette bright and yet subtle make it impossible to ignore the fine filigree details of the Fern against the Hosta.

Slide5A subtle circle of Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium n. ‘Pictum’) is mesmerizing with its variety of color and textures.

Slide6The Cobra heads on these emerging fern fronds were enough of a detail to stop me in my tracks!

Slide7Variegated Lily of the Valley is the dramatic broad-leaved companion downstage from the tousle of red and bronze foliage of the Astilbe.

Slide8Prominent and pronounced leaves of the Rheum or Ornamental Rhubarb stand tall and proud in the border with machismo. If you bend down and look at the undersides of the foliage on a bright day, you can see through the light bronze and enjoy the more feminine, cinnamon and mauve-pink coloration from underneath.

Slide9The delicate, almost crochet looking leaves of green are in their own contrasting striped jail of golden variegated Iris foliage budding up for spring.

Slide10This Rodgersia may have the texture of Elephant skin but certainly not the color! Milk chocolate foliage is a delicious contrast to the smooth as lemon chiffon pie yellow of the Carex in the background.

Slide12Kirengeshoma palmata or Yellow wax-bells is a late season bloomer with soft butter cream-colored flowers. But, until August, we will need to be thrilled with this fine-cut silvery foliage.

Slide13Bergenia and Hellebore are done blooming and now they become a sturdy green backdrop for the soft grassy texture of Molinia c. Variegata or Variegated Moore Grass.

Slide11This Box Honeysuckle, Lonicera n. ‘Twiggy’ is the perfect golden compliment to the broad-leaved, fresh green foliage surrounding it.

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Focusing in the Dark

No night vision goggles are needed here with these foliage plants. Though you do want see them up close and personal. Dark leaved plants are HOT in garden and landscape design and only getting hotter!

Garden designers, TV Shows, Magazines and Botanic Gardens across the country are all talking about this craze. Now that its been a few years, new dark leaved plants are coming out to try every season from fabulous breeders across the globe. Here’s a juicy showing of a few of our good old stand-by’s and some new favorites at Fine Foliage.

April 2012 Foliage and Blooms 572 copy

‘Gold Heart’ Bleeding Heart is paired with Actea simplex ‘Hillside Black Beauty’ (Formerly Cimicifuga) and Lamium ‘Ghost’ in this high octane combination. Actea has the added bonus of fragrant white flowers that sway in the breeze so beautifully!

Just imagine the moody possibilities of design with these HIGH contrast colors. With purest and pristine white your design would be THE MOST on trend since black and white is the hottest thing on the fashion catwalk right now! Raaaahr!

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With black, charcoal, ebony, jet, onyx, raven, sable, shadow, slate the options for dark foliage are nearly endless. But, we should also look at the other superstars of deep toned foliage options like burgundy, deep reds, deep purples too.

July 2012 OFA and Franklin Conservatory 177 copy
This rich, dark mocha colored coleus is paired up with a lovely Carex that acts as a highlighter with the dark foliage focus. And THAT is the key thing to note when using darker foliage colors in the garden. Its the old adage about dark colors receding and light colors coming forward. You want to make sure you have some kind of contrasting color that makes those deep tones shine.
Zingiber 'Midnight Ginger'
Photo Courtesy of Hort Couture
This dramatic Zingiber ‘Midnight Ginger’ is quite showy on its own because of that snow white container.
The matte black ruffled foliage of this Coleus from Hort Couture is called 'Black Rambler'Photo courtesy of Hort Couture

Photo courtesy of Hort Couture

The matte black ruffled foliage of this Coleus from Hort Couture is called ‘Black Rambler’
The bright grass green container makes a lovely contrast to this color.

How about dark moody colors with BOLD variegation? You can have that in a design whether its in shade or sun with these plants.

Begonia Hybrid 'Connie Boswell' at Peace Tree Farm.

Begonia Hybrid ‘Connie Boswell’ at Peace Tree Farm.

Magnificent trailing Begonia at Longwood Gardens.

Magnificent trailing Begonia at Longwood Gardens.

More Begonia’s to ogle from Peace Tree Farm….
Copy of July 2011 Peace Tree Farm 087 copy
Copy of July 2011 Peace Tree Farm 250 copy

July 2011 Peace Tree Farm 231 copy

Slide1

 Carex 'Toffee Twist'

Carex ‘Toffee Twist’

Grass like this Carex often get lovely deepened color in late fall and winter as this one did and with the unusual ‘Autumn Fern’ frond making its way up in the late season right next to it, that accentuated the drama even more!

June 2012 Foliage and Bloom 059 copy

Taken in the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, this photo featuring the pairing of ‘Black Mondo’ Grass with a weeping Japanese Maple are texturally striking in a soft and touchable way. But, the mix of the licorice and almost chocolate tones together are simply deee-liscious!

When you consider what colors of foliage you want in your garden this season, think about adding some of the bolder, darker more romantic or mysterious foliage in deeper tones this season. Shine a light in those dark places – a BLACK LIGHT that is!

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