Tag Archives: Coleus

Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Coleus Cravings

Team Fine Foliage is ever forward thinking, and today we’re considering all of the ways we can use coleus this spring. Seize the day and start your dreaming now so that you can hit the ground running when it’s time to shop.

Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Craving for ColeusWith a coleus (Solenostemon scutellaroides) for every design need imaginable, it’s hard to fathom a spot where this fantastic group of plants doesn’t make any combination better. What’s not love? When the color range, leaf shape and multitude of growth habits available are SO vast, it can make your head spin. I know I have landed on a few that have turned out to be my own “go-to” selections, but each year I try to break out and try new ones.

There are coleus selections available for BOTH morning and afternoon sun AND shade, so don’t assume that you might have too much or too little of either situation because the breeders are working overtime to bring new ones to market that are tougher than ever. But, to be safe, be sure to make an assessment of the time of day and how many hours of sun your spot will get to make sure you get the right plant for the right place.

**Plant tags are notoriously difficult in regard to sun/shade needs when it comes to coleus. Be sure to ask your local Independent Garden Center salesperson which are best for YOUR needs if you aren’t quite sure. Telling them apart can get a bit tricky and some plants can easily thrive in BOTH exposures, which is another reason why we love them so!

Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Craving for ColeusThe incredible glowing burnt orange of this one called ‘Campfire’ by Ball Horticulture is a large scaled one that features this incredible purple shadow that is very subtle but really shows when you put anything purple next to it. A new favorite one for sure!

Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Craving for ColeusOne fo the interesting things about coleus is that there are so many that are seemingly the same yet are different and so it’s a challenge to know for certain if you have the same one as last year without seeing the tag for yourself. I have often seen to that look identical at different garden centers, and they will have different names, so bear with me if you see one that I name as X, but that you know as Y. It happens ALL the time!

The one above is one that I happen to know as ‘Wedding Train’, fabulously colorful trailing option for showy, colorful foliage when a potato vine would be overwhelming in a container design. It can take more sun than you might imagine too!

Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Craving for ColeusBlack potato vine makes a really neat groundcover at the front of this bed with hot pink Angelonia sandwiched in between another coleus from Ball Horticulture called ‘French Quarter’.  A significant thing to note here, if this coleus stands up to the same heat as Angelonia which wants to roast in the HOT summer sun, then you know this coleus is a toughy!!

Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Craving for ColeusNeed a desktop sized coleus? A terrarium sized coleus? A mini-gardening sized coleus? I found it! Hort Couture has created this incredible line of new coleus called Under the Sea ‘Sea Monkey’ and they come in a few colors. This one is ‘Sea Monkey Apricot’ and I ADORE it!

http://www.hortcoutureplants.com/product-detail/coleus-under-the-sea®-sea-monkey-rustHort Couture also created this one that I love called Under the Sea ‘Bonefish’As you can see, I let this one go to flower, and there are two philosophical camps regarding this idea, here’s my two cents on the topic; let them bloom if you enjoy it OR don’t let them bloom if you don’t. Some gardeners seem to think there is a real right or wrong on this and I think it totally depends on the plant, the combination and the time of year. I tend to let all of them bloom by the time September/October rolls around, why the heck not? However, I DO keep all of my coleus pinched for tidy growth especially the larger upright ones until then. But, you should do whatever floats your leafy boat!

Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Coleus Cravings
Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Coleus CravingsPersonally, these ones with the striking veins like ‘Fishnet Stockings’ seriously rev my foliage design engines!!!!

Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Coleus CravingsThis one also from Ball Horticulture called ‘Vino’ was new to me this last year. But I tell ya, this dark, moody devil was one of the most hardcore TOUGH plants in my entire garden last summer! It held up in pretty extreme heat like a champ!!!

Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Coleus CravingsThe rich black of ‘Vino’ creates such an excellent tonal effect with the other plants in this container design, it quickly became a favorite for me. 

Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Coleus Cravings
Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Coleus Cravings
Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Coleus Cravings
Team Fine Foliage is positively green with jealousy over parts of the country where caladium thrive, it is a much tougher proposition up here in the Great Northwet. But, to combine them with coleus……that’s just salt in the wound of our jealous leafy hearts. 🙂 YOWZA!

Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Coleus CravingsFrom the files of the weird and wonderful, the giant leaves of Solanum quitoense has wonderfully sensuous leaves until those big scary thorns grow in. Paired here with the silver lace of Senecio leuchostachys, Coleus (possibly) ‘Black Beauty’ is a dramatic combination to be sure!

Limitless Ways to Satisfy Your Coleus CravingsThis last shot strikes at the heart of all that Team Fine Foliage stands for, BODACIOUS foliage at its very best! Sexy sexy bromeliad combined with other foliage to create this dreamy scene, all topped off with ‘Sedona’ coleus to mark the sunrise/sunset tones of this wonderful composition shot at the Chanticleer Garden a few years back. This one never gets old!

So there you have it- a teeny tiny overview of some incredible ways to get your coleus craving fix. Drop us a note and tell us about YOUR plans for coleus this year. Need more ideas? Click here to peek at our newest book Gardening with Foliage First. And if you already ordered, we would be honored if you wrote a review too.

Cheers to the coming spring! 

Fine Foliage Southern Style

The Atlanta Botanic Garden featured the incredible art of glass artist Dale Chihuly while were visiting the garden and we decided to try capturing it at night with the city in the background.

Team Fine Foliage has been on the road for almost 10 days in various cities from Washington D.C. to Savannah and most recently in Atlanta, Georgia. We’ve made our way to the south from the opposite corner of the country to tour gardens and attend the Garden Writers Association annual symposium and we couldn’t be more thrilled at the incredible foliage that we’ve seen here. This is truly a gardeners region!

Though we have a couple more days of touring to go, we made our way to one spectacular garden where unfortunately Mother Nature decided to intervene and throw is a weather curveball with incredible rains and we were only able to stay very briefly. But, we were able to capture a precious few photos to share with you just near the entrance of this magnificent garden and on this quick post we can give you a small taste of what we saw.

The exquisite Gibbs Gardens were a long bus ride, but were SO worth it! One of our tour bus’ even got stuck during the torrential downpours we experienced. We are going to try (fingers crossed) to rent a car and go back in a couple of days before making the long flight back to Seattle.
Just look at what greeted us right as we got off the bus and you can understand why we MUST make our way back if we can!
Fine Foliage Southern StyleApologies for the uncharacteristically less than stellar quality of this photo as it was raining and as photographers, trying to juggle an umbrella while shooting is an acrobatic feat we have yet to master! However, now you can see why we feel so strongly about going back as soon as possible! The caladium, variegated ginger and begonia’s that anchor this showy display are truly just a small sample of what we plant to go back to shoot when its dry!

Fine Foliage Southern StyleThese fabulous gold conifers at the swelling creek side were standouts on such a dark and gloomy day that they commended attention. While the spiky blue yucca give a textural and color contrast brilliantly, the fluffy white aster that blooms in the early fall was the perfect billowy soft accent for an ideal display of what we mean when we say “Foliage First!”

Fine Foliage Southern Style

Who on earth decided that pink and orange DON’T go together?! Clearly whomever designed this doesn’t follow the rules and thank heavens! These GIANT caladium love the heat and humidity of the south and we are ever so jealous. But, pairing them with this orange-gold coleus was brilliant and created such a perfect foil for the flowers in these overflowing containers.

Fine Foliage Southern StyleAs the afternoon of our tour got darker and stormier, the foliage that stood out was whatever has a light feeling to it, we talk about that often on this blog, but what a day for a perfect example! These white caladium and bright gold coleus in the background make our point perfectly in contrast to all of those flowers.

We are off to a bus and more gardens in mere moments. Hopefully this gives you a little idea of what we are experiencing here in the south and we will have MUCH more to show you from some unbelievable gardens we are seeing here. MORE to come!

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Easy Window Box Display

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Why make things complicated?

This window box is one of the few  spots that deer seem to ignore. Maybe they consider it isn’t worth the effort to bushwhack through the abelia, step over the fountain or navigate the narrow path? Whatever the reason I’m happy to have the opportunity to use colorful foliage that would get eaten elsewhere.

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Receiving only three hours of indirect light in the afternoon, this window box sits beneath the front window of my garden cabin, looking onto a 4 foot  deep porch. It isn’t truly dark on the porch but between the eaves and the surrounding plants it is most definitely only suitable for shade loving plants.

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It would be easy to design an over the top display with lots of different plants and colors but this window box is merely one part of a much larger vignette so I prefer to keep things simple. I add enough color to pull the eye back onto the porch but have the planting become just one more element within the broader picture of sunset shades. Even in September, as the perennial Zagreb tickseed (Coreopsis v. ‘Zagreb’) are pushing out their last few flowers this foliage focused window box packs a colorful punch.

The foliage framework

Lava Rose coleus

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This Lava Rose trailing coleus is similar in habit to Burgundy Wedding Train but  the addition of hot pink and creamy white really help this to be seen in the shade.

The “I know I’ll find the tag somewhere” coleus

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I remember putting the tag somewhere safe….. Regardless of its name, it was included in the window box because it had a tidy mounding habit and the colors were perfect.That gold really popped against the cedar siding

Illumination periwinkle

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Illumination has a distinct yellow variegation (Wojo’s Gem is more cream). Perfect to trail over the edge

The Finishing Touch

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Many tropical house plants are suitable for a summer vacation on a shady porch; Dakota Anthurium is one of them. When frost threatens I’ll bring this indoors and see if I can keep it alive (I’m not very successful when it comes to indoor plants unless they thrive on benign neglect).

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Easy Peasy – Foliage First! Now I do believe there is an exciting new book with that title…..

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Grow Your Own Leaves

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What will you grow besides veggies and flowers this year?

The seed catalogs are piling up on the coffee table and my notebook is filling up as I list the varieties of flowers and vegetables I’d like to grow this year. But what about growing some foliage plants for my garden and  containers too? Ornamental edibles, annuals, biennials and perennials are all possible and they will save me money for bigger ticket items such as trees and shrubs.

Here are a few to consider.

Ornamental Edibles

edibles

This is the easiest place to start; grow some ornamental edibles to tuck into your landscape and containers this year. Lettuce, kale, chard, beet and herbs are all perfect candidates that will do double duty for taste and good looks. Renee’s Garden has an outstanding selection.

Annuals

All done and dusted in a single year but they give so much to the garden they are definitely worth growing yourself if you need more than just one or two.

Coleus

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A trio of coleus with Japanese forest grass and black sweet potato vine makes a stunning combo for the shade.

You may not be able to find all your favorite varieties as seed but there are still oodles of these colorful annuals to choose from. If you have extensive shade gardens this could be a really inexpensive way to add a colorful groundcover this year considering a 4″ plant can cost as much as $6 in the nursery! Leftovers are perfect for containers and baskets too. Buy a fun mix such as Wizard Mix and see what colors you get or something dark and dramatic like Black Dragon.

Licorice plant (Helichrysum)

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Licorice plant

This drought tolerant, deer resistant groundcover has become a staple in my summer garden where its wide spreading branches weaves between shrubs and perennials, smothering weeds and filling gaps. I haven’t grown this from seed before and it looks as though it needs to be sown 10-12 weeks before setting out so I need to get cracking! Try Silver Mist.

Silver Falls dichondra (Dichondra argentea)

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Love to use this as a spiller from hanging baskets and containers, where the strands of heart-shaped metallic leaves catch the light like a cascade of silver pennies. Silver Falls seems to do well in full or part sun and like many silver plants is drought tolerant and deer resistant.

Amaranth (Amaranthus)

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A wild amaranth that caught my eye at Epcot a few years ago!

There are several varieties of this annual to look for that are especially noted for their foliage. Not for the faint of heart, Joseph’s Coat screams PARTY! Vivid yellow,red and green splashed leaves add a wonderful blast of late season color to the garden. Molten Fire, as its name suggests has bronze foliage that turns shades of crimson in late summer. Cinco de Mayo tries to outdo them both, boasting foliage in multi-color pinwheels of electric yellow, vivid orange and magenta. Imagine any of these next to a stand of tall grasses such as burgundy tipped Shenandoah switch grass (Panicum v. ‘Shenandoah’) or powder blue Dallas Blues switch grass (Panicum v. ‘Dallas Blues’).

Castor Oil Bean (Ricin communis)

High Spirited Foliage for the 4th

Go BIG or go home? You’ll love this tropical looking beauty for the back of the border and larger containers where it can reach 5-10′ tall depending on the variety and conditions. Carmencita pictured above is a favorite of ours with its rich burgundy leaves and scarlet seed pods but there are others to choose from including New Zealand Purple (purple foliage and seedpods) and Zanzibarensis Mix, an 1870 heirloom, which sports immense green leaves with decorative ribbing and white or violet blooms. Ooh….

NOTE: Seeds are highly poisonous; remove seed pods before seeds drop and wear gloves when handling.

Biennials and Perennials

For those of you looking ahead, consider sowing seeds for foliage plants that will look their best next year – or the year after that. Again this is such an easy way to save money, especially if you need a large quantity of a particular plant for a themed border or sweeping vignette. These are a couple that I feel are worth the effort either because they are usually so expensive as individual plants or they can be hard to find.

Silver Sage (Salvia argentea)

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Photo credit; Annie’s Annuals

Huge, felted silvery leaves that grow in luscious rosettes. A winner for hot spots in well drained soil silver sage is stunning.

Bugbane (Cimicifuga r. atropurpurea)

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Bugbane is one of my favorite dark leaved perennials for a partially shaded border. named varieties can be as much as $15 for a gallon plant making this packet of seeds a really good deal! Vanilla fragrance from the tall spires of white flowers is an added bonus.

What are you growing from seed this year? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. Itchy gardening fingers want to know!

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Cool Color on Fresh Foliage

Cool Color on Fresh Foliage

 

Cool Color on Fresh Foliage, White Ornamental Kale

BRRRRR…..For those of you bundled up near your fireplace with seed catalogs and dreamy garden books, Team Fine Foliage does not want to make you more cold with a discussion about cold season white foliage, but quite the opposite. We want you to begin thinking and planning now for the possibility of adding elegant white foliage to your warm weather landscape.

Cool Color on Fresh Foliage, Salvia, Red Barberry, White Variegated Grass

Whether white in the garden means grasses, perennials, conifers or even annuals, trend watchers in design are all pointing the refreshingly old-fashioned charm and gentility of this clean, high contrast element in fresh new ways. Now, the thing about white is that it can cover a WIDE variety of variations depending on how you choose to interpret its use.
It was once very en vogue to have an all white garden, but that really meant the flowers. Then there was the transition to favoring the idea of the “moonlight garden” where the flowers were still prominent, but the foliage began to also take stage as a prominent focus of the theme with silvers and creamy whites adding to the mix.
Cool Color for Fresh FoliageWhites, creamy tones, silvers, variegation and even tones that border on being more blue can all translate to white depending on how they are used. And they can even work in harmony together.
Cool Color for Fresh FoliageAbove, a ‘Butterfly’ Japanese maple harmonizes with a ‘Spiderweb’ Fatsia, both with white leaning variegation, but both also work beautifully with the grasses that have a distinctly creamy variegation.

Cool Color for Fresh Foliage

Cool Color for Fresh Foliage, Dappled Willow, Variegated Comfrey

The purity of the shade of white in the variegation of the Dappled Willow (above) (Salix ‘Hakuro Nishiki’) is always sweet. Paired with the bolder variegation of the unusual perennial, Variegated Comfrey, this combo shows the cool whites used beautifully for a shade combination.
Cool Color for Fresh Foliage, Acanthus 'Tasmanian Angel'On the other end of the white spectrum, the buttercream color in this Acanthus ‘Tasmanian Angel’ shows beautifully against the deep dark shady background.
Cool Color for Fresh Foliage, Polyganatum 'Striatum', Actea Snow white stripes on the rich green of this unique variegated Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum ‘Striatum’) contrasts brilliantly with its neighboring deep black actea foliage.
Cool Color for Fresh Foliage, Caladium, WhiteNow if you live in a warmer climate zone, you are likely already familiar with Caladium, but just look at that giant, pure as snow-white leaf! Think of what you could do with it!
Cool Color for Fresh FoliageWhether you are familiar with Alocasia or Colocasia, in warm climates, both are handsome and dramatic. This velvety off-white variegation has oodles of design possibilities!
Cool Color for Fresh Foliage, Solanum, Centaurea, ColeusSpeaking of BIG leaves! This large solanum ‘Quitoense’ is the perfect 1/3 of the dreamy trio for its bold surface area that contrasts perfectly with the lacy qualities of both the Centaurea ‘Colchester White’ and the racy red coleus.
Cool Color for Fresh FoliageAnother close view of Centaurea ‘Colchester White’.
Cool Color for Fresh Foliage, CentaureaThis view of Centaurea ‘Colchester White’ was seen at the Des Moines Botanical Gardens where we are green with envy about this plant thriving!! The pink flowers are such a bonus! 🙂
Cool Color for Fresh Foliage, Arundo donaxVanilla toned Arundo donax var. ‘Versicolor’ is a large-scale grass that needs room in the landscape to thrive, but oh what a suave thug!
Cool Color for Fresh Foliage, Carex 'Everest' From BOLD to now delicate and feminine, this Carex ‘Everest’ is ever so appropriately named for the snow-white variegation on this hardy little evergreen grass. An award winner too!
Cool Color for Fresh Foliage, Stachys 'Bellagrigio'Cool Color for Fresh Foliage, Stachys 'Bellagrigio'Whether you try the brand new, award winning Stachys ‘Bella Grigio’ in the landscape beds or in container designs, this is a bright white foliage that is showy! The new cousin to traditional Lambs Ears is a fun alternative.
It’s time to start thinking ahead to warmer times when we will all be whining about our need for air conditioning and what you may want to plant to lighten and brighten the landscape this summer. At least whites are COOL right?

Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. We’d love to know!

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Garden Designer’s TOP SECRET Plant Picks!

Garden designers REALLY don’t want just anybody to be able to do what we do. We want there to be some mystique, some fascination, some magic to what we create for our clients. But we DO have secret weapons in our design arsenal that ANYONE can try out affordably and dramatically. Ready? FERNS! Yes, you heard us FERNS!

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant PicksFerns are often low on the shopping order of excitement for nursery customers and often overlooked because they need to utilized WELL in order for them to shine. And if they aren’t sited or paired up with the right companions, they can be down right boring. However, designers know that ferns can be THE MOST dramatic and showy plants in the entire landscape if you allow them to be the super-stars that they can be.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant PicksWhether you are wanting evergreen or perennial ferns, the design options are incredible and this little secret is one of many in a GOOD garden designers vast arsenal of tricks. Ferns are available for every type of location from full shade to sun, dry shade to moist, from tall to ground cover, from evergreen to perennial and everything in between. And this makes them a valuable plant option for many types of locations.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

For THE absolute experts in the world of ferns, my go-to professionals are at Fancy Fronds Nursery here in the NW. The amazing ladies who own this nursery know their ferns and can provide you with everything from collectors ferns to the more common.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

Designers know that a fern can often do what other plants can’t, and that is being able to play a supporting OR a string role in the display at any given time during the season. This spectacular display by designer Riz Reyes  (above) shows the important supporting actor role that ferns are playing when other plants NEED to have a starring role.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant PicksDesigners also know that ferns are not simply one shot wonders in the fluffy summer landscape, they are critical players in the year round landscape. In the shot above, the ‘Autumn Fern’ shows off-color in early fall with a ‘Cappuccino’ Sedge.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

Another way to think of using ferns to their highest and best purpose is to know that they can be both bold AND delicate depending on how you pair them. In this shot above, the trio of the ‘Maidenhair’ fern with Daphne ‘Summer Ice’ and ‘Mugho’ pine are a texture lovers dream! But, it is in quite a powerful and strong way.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

In this photo, the delicate new growth in spring has lovely blushing color and comes across as incredibly feminine and lush.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant PicksSometimes the green on green of ferns layered together is an elegant way to fill an area with hardy and showy textures, this is a common trick that designers employ in those hard to plant low-light spots. But, WOW! Who needs more color when you have this ‘Hart’s Tongue’ fern with a carpet of ‘Oak’ fern underneath?!

Garden designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

Talk about luscious green on green! WOWZA! This ‘Paris’ Polyphylla truly shines as it stands up tall over a bed of ‘Maidenhair’ fern and glossy ginger foliage.

 

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

Even in a fairly bright spot you have amazing ferny options, such as the leathery, deep green ‘Tassle’ fern.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

Or use the incredibly beautiful ‘Ghost’ fern as a way to up-light these white allium flowers! This is a vastly under-utilized foliage color in the fern world, there are way too many great ways for this amazingly silver foliage to light up a dark corner or give just the right zing to a darker leaved companion.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

Used in the foreground of this larger blue-green hosta in the rear, who needs more? The purplish-black stems are an incredibly lovely contrast to the ‘Ghost’ fern’s silver luminescence. But, if you wanted to play up those dark stems even more, pair this combination with the glossy bronze foliage of Beesia (see the photo below for Beesia in action) where it’s heart shaped leaves and white fairy-wand type flowers would bring even more wow-factor to this combination!

Obviously there are so many more ferns than we have room to show off here in one blog post, like the ever-present ‘Sword’ fern that is like a mascot in the NW garden, other than slugs possibly. 🙂 But, even a seemingly pedestrian plant like a ‘Sword’ fern shines with the right plants around it. So, the main take-away this week is that, we designers have this little design secret that may seem to many gardeners like a ho-hum addition to the landscape, but if you know the secret handshake and password, we’re happy to share ideas with you.

 

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant PicksOh! Did we NOT mention the secret password??????? Next week……….

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Hot New Coleus for 2015

Grab your sunglasses, think warm tropical breezes, delicious cocktails with little umbrellas in them and sand between your toes. Think SUMMER.

Ignore the snow, ice, hail, rain and bitingly cold wind and feast your eyes on these new introductions from Terra Nova Nurseries Inc., Start dreaming up your summer foliage combinations now.

Coleus Hipsters™ ‘Zooey’

Coleus_Hipsters_Zooey_1bWOW! You did get your sunglasses didn’t you? This is one serious party-coleus. Zooey has a wide spreading habit (9″ h x 23″ w) and spiky yellow leaves that are splashed with crimson. What about growing this as a groundcover around tall green ferns? Shade/part shade

Coleus Wildfire™ ‘Smoky Rose’

Coleus_Wildfire_Smoky_Rose_1bShort and wide this smokin’ hot introduction is going to look stunning tumbling at the edge of a large container. It grows 8″ h x 24″ w so give it some elbow room. Deeply cut leaves really help show off the rich plum and hot pink variegation, edged with just a hint of lime. I can see this with a spiky gold grass such as Bowle’s Golden sedge (Carex). Shade or part shade

Coleus Flying Carpet™ ‘Shocker’

Coleus_Flying_Carpet_Shocker_1bNo more excuses for dark and dreary shade gardens – add a carpet of Shocker and your garden visitors will be….well SHOCKED! The dark red center expands as the leaf grows to give a wonderful layered look. This big mama grows to 24″h x 28″w. Fabulous as a groundcover in shade or part shade or as a solo container plant.

Coleus Terra Nova® ‘Green Lantern’

Coleus_Green_Lantern_3bThe only lime green trailing coleus on the market, this is one you just have to try this year. Imagine this with a dark leaved Canna and bright orange Bonfire begonias….. This one is sun tolerant too although the best color is in partial shade. 10″ h x 24″ w

Coleus Flying Carpet™ ‘Zinger’

Coleus_Flying_Carpet_Zinger_1bA traditional color with a twist – literally. Love the curled end of each leaf that is reminiscent of a paisley design. Beautifully sculpted and frilled picotee edge together with a clean lime and deep red color – this is one I’m going to look out for. Zinger grows to 24 x 24 and does best in shade or part shade.

General growing tips

Coleus prefer well drained soil and like to dry out slightly between waterings. They need warmer temperatures than annuals such as geraniums – ideally wait until night temperatures are consistently 55′ or above.

So which ones are on your shopping list for 2015? Leave us a comment below or get in touch on Facebook.

All photos courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries Inc., – and no we didn’t get paid for writing about their plants!

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Pattern Play – Mixing It Up with Fine Foliage

In fashion we combine stripes and solids, plaids and polka-dots, and florals both large and small together. For some, it’s easy breezy to look into the depths of our drawers and closets and put together a combination that looks effortless and pulled together. For MANY of us, it takes a bit of practice. But, with some simple tips, you can easily translate the same ideas with your landscape and container designs with exceptional foliage plants any season of the year.

Pattern Play- Mixing It Up with Fine Foliage

Rosy fall color on Heuchera ‘Electra’ shows the amazing burgundy veining detail against the chartreuse background and harmonizes with the copper tones in the container, while the draping, silvery Lamium foliage gives some tonal contrast and pattern that keeps the duo from feeling heavy.

Looking at the larger view of the rich fall container design, you get the sense for the how the foliage colors all work together.

Looking at the larger view of the rich fall container design, you get the sense for the how the foliage colors all work together.

Limit your color palette.
When you want to create subtle or dramatic color combinations with foliage patterns, it is vital that you don’t get all CLOWNPANTS! From the container, to the focal point plant, keep your color palette tighter, without going TOO matchy-matchy when working with patterned foliage. The bolder the pattern, the more you will need to keep it simple to truly appreciate each individual color and visual texture.

Pattern Play- Mixing It Up with Fine Foliage
Patterns of different of different densities and sizes

Canna 'Tropicanna' stripes WORK with the detailed leaves of this Coleus.

Canna ‘Tropicanna’ stripes WORK with the detailed leaves of this Coleus.

Phormium 'Chieftain' vertical stripes and unified color are intriguing with the sunset tones of the tropical foliage that sits low and wide below.

The Phormium ‘Chieftain’ brings its vertical stripes and unified color to an intriguing with the sunset tones of the tropical Acalypha foliage that sits low and wide below.

Another gorgeous example with Coleus 'Smallwood Driveway' from Hort Couture.

Another gorgeous example with Coleus ‘Smallwood Driveway’ from Hort Couture.

Space Patterns Out

Rubber Plant while the Rubber Plant even picks up a bit of the red begonia too!

Silvery Brunnera with delicate veining sits opposite the Variegated Rubber Plant with a little breathing room from the green Asparagus Fern. The Rubber Plant even picks up a bit of the red begonia too!

Combine large patterns against small patterns.
Pattern Play- Mixing It Up with Fine FoliageIncorporate varying scales to the plants so that the patterns don’t compete with one another.  Ideally, sticking with the rule of three, pick one large, one medium and one small pattern to work with. In these examples using two worked, but three is much more interesting if you can make it work.
The large Caladium leaves have a fairly detailed pattern on them, but the large surface area of those big luscious leaves off-sets that when combined with the smaller and more subtle detail of the Pseuderanthemum ‘Stainless Steel’.

Ipomea 'Chipotle' has small, subtle dots and splotches of of spicy lime while the Acalypha 'Jungle Cloak' carries the big and bold tones and patterns.

Feel the energy and movement with Ipomea ‘Chipotle’ with it’s small, subtle dots and splotches of spicy lime while the Acalypha ‘Jungle Cloak’ carries the big, sophisticated tones and patterns.

What would YOU mix with the amazing colors of 'Jungle Cloak' Acalypha?

What would YOU mix with the amazing colors of ‘Jungle Cloak’ Acalypha?

Mix a foliage pattern with a flowering plant in the same color family.
Sure, indulge in gorgeous flowers, but use the power of color to unite the saturated tones foliage with it too! This can just as easily be done with more understated tones too.

Oxalis 'Plum Crazy' from Hort Couture WORKS with the complimentary color of Celosia bloom as well as the dusky colored foliage.

Oxalis ‘Plum Crazy’ from Hort Couture WORKS with the complimentary color of Celosia bloom as well as the dusky colored foliage.

What flower would you pair with this devinely rich toned Cordyline 'Mocho Latte'?

What flower would you pair with this divinely rich-toned Cordyline ‘Mocho Latte’?

HOLY COW! Can you even dream up what you might put with this incredible edible Basil 'PESTO Chocolate Swirl' coming out in 2015 from Hort Couture? I am drooling just thinking about the possibilities!

HOLY COW! Can you even dream up what you might put with this incredible edible Basil ‘PESTO Chocolate Swirl’ coming out in 2015 from Hort Couture? I am drooling just thinking about the possibilities!

Be sure to visit Hort Couture Plants for more fantastic foliage ideas available in your locally owned garden center! With these tips, hopefully you will be on your way to using some Fine Foliage to be come a savvy pattern mixing designer, no matter what method you choose to make it work for your style!

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September Survey of Foliage

September is when I begin to think about the waning flowers and seasonal summer foliage and how I will feel when there is no luscious coleus about to accent and highlight seasonal summer foliage on shrubs, perennials and other annuals.

Coleus and MelianthusThe coleus is hanging in there for a while, but the nurseries however are clearing quickly, the sales abound, so NOW is the time to take stock and survey what you have vs. what you want for next year. The sooner you get those pieces that I call “furniture” in the garden for the cold season interest, the better off they will be come spring.

Coleus and Hypericum 'Ignite Scarlet'

Coleus

Coleus and Euphorbia 'Silver Swan'

"Under the Sea" Coleus, Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie', 'Blue Star' Juniper

"Under the Sea" Coleus, Heuchera 'Lime Rickey'
So, I plot and plan my next steps. Envisioning my nose stuck against the glass in the colder months with a hot cup of coffee in hand, I think about how I will enjoy the finer details of the late season fall and winter foliage that remains while plotting and planning at that time what I will do in spring.

Coleus and Euphorbia 'Silver Swan' What’s going to hold up in the cold and look interesting mixed with my spring and summer favorites AND have some showy FOLIAGE? Luckily, here in our mild, “Plant Mecca” climate, I have many choices. The front yard has the deer and bunnies, but the back is fully fenced and I can get more “experimental” there without losing my wallet in the process.

We won’t have the louder, showy options we have in spring and summer of course, because the cold time of the year is about more of the quiet details, more subdued colors and textural details that we admire from a closer view.

Blueberry 'Sunshine Blue' and Abelia 'Kaleidascope'
That’s not to say that we can’t have HUGE amounts of personality this time of the year! I LOVE the Blueberry foliage with Abelia ‘Kaleidascope’. With a late season grass like Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ or Pennisetum a. ‘Burgundy Bunny’ this combo could be outstanding!

Variegated Boxwood with unknown ChamaecyperisHave a yen for light and airy? The light of this variegated boxwood and chamaecyperis (unknown) together are a fine winter pairing. What would YOU add as another accent here? Possibly another dramatic grass? How about Japanese Blood grass for a shock of red for autumn?

Variegated PierisSpeaking of light and airy- how about one of my go-to must have favorites to design with plants? The Variegated Pieris is elegant, showy and the epitome of seasonal. I also have a passion for it’s cousins ‘Flaming Silver’ and ‘Little Heath’. EPIC plants for designing a garden that needs to drop a few visual pounds and lighten up.

'Little Rascal' Holly, Eupatorium 'Chocolate', Carex tesacea and Melianthus
This rich and subtle combination of ‘Little Rascal’ Holly, Orange Sedge, ‘Chocolate’ Eupatorium and Melianthus are a textural dream for the late season. That carex will get more orange, and the holly will get a bit more black just in time for Halloween! 😉

Ilex c. 'Drops of Gold', 'Redbor' Kale, Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie' I know some designers consider it rather “pedestrian”, but I adore the tall purple ‘Redbor’ Kale for it’s fall and winter richness. And when it is paired with the berry-liscious Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’ and Ilex c. ‘Drops of Gold’- stand back!

Osmanthus 'Goshiki' and Miscanthus s. 'Morning Light'
Osmanthus 'Goshiki' Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ is also a favorite for it’s hardiness, slow growth, foliage color and personality. I frequently get clients and customers who wince at the thought of a plant like this and say “Oh no, no prickly plants in my garden!” Then I stick two hands in it and show them it doesn’t bite! Then I say, “Well, if you’re huggin it, you’re doing it wrong.” This plant is SO worth it for the seasonality!

Silver Hellebore and Spruce
Speaking of prickly but worth it! This silver Hellebore is simply striking against the backdrop of this old spruce in the background. Both with a lovely blue-green coloration they each have equally distinct and separate charisma. These two happen to be front and center on a patio, smashing in winter!

Bergenia, Molinia and HelleboreThis Bergenia is nothing fancy in the way of a cutting edge plant, BUT when paired with this Molinia and bed of Hellebore in the background, it is a fall and winter masterpiece of design! So simple, yet effective.

Miscanthus and red Japanese Maple
The subtle coloration of this Miscanthus blooms may have been lost if it were not for the backdrop of the red Japanese Maple in the background.

Euphorbia 'Silver Swan', Hebe 'Quicksilver', 'Tri-Color' Sage, Heuchera 'Green Spice'
I am forever attracted to monochromatic color schemes. I’m not quite sure why the sophistication of it appeals to me SO much! I think the interplay of layering one tone can have so many distinct identities within a small display and depending on the plant combinations, can be changed up to be more powerful or more indirect. For fall and winter though, I think that the cold brings out the drama in these kind of displays.

So, what am I wistful for in next years garden? I “think” I may take out a Ninebark to make way for one of these: Cotinus 'Young Lady' This Smokebush or Cotinus ‘Young Lady’ has captured my heart. Though I think I may hold out for one called ‘Grace’ for her utterly stunning fall foliage in a bright, rich, coral and tealy, blue-green leaves in summer.

How about you? Are you planning your next foliage focus for fall and winter yet?

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April 2012 Foliage and Blooms 572 copy

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

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 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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