Tag Archives: Fern

Luscious Layers with Foliage First

We have earned the right to whine a bit about our weather here in the Seattle area lately with record-setting rains the likes of which have not been seen since records were kept in this area. The gardens are all in quite a state of shock and disorientation, so when I went to look back at this date last year, it was quite amazing to fathom the variance!
Hostas and Saxifrage are Luscious Layers with Foliage FirstI found this shot in last years file for this same week in 2016 photographed in an amazing garden called PowellsWood. This garden is very close to my heart as they spoil me SO much as a designer and a photographer. But, also because it’s an exquisite gem of a garden.

Just look at those layers of hosta fern, grass and ‘Variegata’ saxifrage in full blooming glory for spring! So what’s the design recipe here? Add one white variegated hosta, one solid blue hosta, and marbled golden saxifrage WITH the graceful show of spring flowers. Following those saxifrage blooms will be the hosta flowers and now you have a recipe that Team Fine Foliage and Foliage First would say is a BIG winner for demonstrating how to have luscious layers in the shade garden this year. The ferns and grass are bonus elements!

With some luck and possibly a drought we may be slightly less damp in July than we are today. But, I still have to shave the moss on my legs this week! 😉

Is it time for you to tackle that less-than-stellar shade garden? You’ll get lots more ideas for plant combinations that put Foliage First in our two books.

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The Finer Points of Interest

Foliage patterns and textures are ever fascinating. If you have never looked at some of the amazing web pages devoted to Fractals found in nature, I highly recommend you fall down the rabbit hole and go look at some, you will be mesmerized. Here is a great link to start your journey.

When you think about it, those are the tip of the leafy iceberg when it comes to falling in love with the amazing patterns, arrangements and configurations that you can discover in the stunning realm of foliage when you really take the time to look.

(Name still TBD)

(Name still TBD)

 

 

 

The subtle and sumptuous succulent above would still be gorgeous even if it never bloomed. The patterning begs you to step in to take a much closer look to appreciate the exquisite quilting of elements that mother nature dreams up.

Today I was enamored with the shapes that were cornered, spiked, arrow like or elongated and finger-like. Sometimes the variegation’s and colors play a role and other times the fascination is purely with how a single color works with the leaf shape.

Impatiens 'Omeiana'

Fractals and spikes20140610-CS_IMG_0316'Trompenberg' Japanese Maple
As you spend some lazy days with a cool drink hanging around in the garden in the dog days of summer, stop and take a long, slow gander at the shapes and coloration of certain plants as they team up in pairs and trios. Are you noticing stripes, polka dots, contrasting veins, a woven pattern, or a framework of colors together that you may not have noticed before?
Agave 'Shiro No Ito'What patterns of foliage textures and shapes draw YOU in for a closer look? Tell us about it and join the conversation with Fine Foliage!

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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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Fine Foliage Found at Dunn Gardens

After spending most of last spring and summer in my hidey-hole office writing Fine Foliage in my jammies, I made the executive decision to schedule at least one day per week for some sort of a garden oriented visit. Whether its a Botanical Garden, Private Garden or a nursery, I need to re-fuel my gardening mojo this year. In this post I will share a small bit of the foliage I found at Seattle’s historic Dunn Gardens last week.

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As a cynical old Hort-Head who always feels like I rarely get to see much new and exciting, May I always be BLESSED with the excitement of seeing a fern unfurling every spring.

IMG_8141Now having just written that last statement, why in the world have I NOT been obsessed with Rodgersia until we put it in Fine Foliage? I am simply besotted with it! I bought two in the last week. Quite the investment, but worth it!

IMG_8153On a guided tour, we don’t always have the time to investigate everything we want in detail, so I couldn’t properly ID this plant. But, in any case, I love the alien-esque quality of it rising all by itself in the middle of the moss with that coppery color in the sunlight. SO cool!

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Newly born Podophyllum, or May Apple in the moss garden look so pre-historic. I just want to pet their fat, glossy leaves.

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Rich cocoa is what these leaves make me crave. A creamy mocha perhaps? Or Rocky Road ice cream? This Hardy Geranium paired with the fresh emerald green growth of the Lilly next to it, I don’t care, I’d take either one- scrumptious!

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An entire bank of Maiden Fern, oh the luscious texture, the black stems, that lovely lemon-lime color. I desperately wish for a shady spot to roll in these on a hot afternoon.

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This combination under a giant fir tree would not have occurred to me in a hundred years! See, this is why I wanted to go out and get inspired! Capo Blanco Sedum and Cyclamen? HUH?? But, ya gotta give it to them, it is really cool!!!

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Admittedly, I am Smurfy short, for those of you under the age of 30, go look that one up! Anyway, this combination of Mahonia (probably one like ‘Charity’) was towering over me next to the elegant Japanese Maple in the background.

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The emerging Cardiocrinum or Giant Lilly with its uber glossy leaves were so cool with this frothy new fern just coming up behind it.

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There are not many times in ones life (Hort-Headedly speaking of course) where you can photograph Rodgersia AND Acanthus ‘Tasmanian Angel’ AND Hosta all in the same frame. Happy dancing!!

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Again, this must go into the category of things that I NEVER would have thought of in a zillion years. This is a Rhododendron, I shall name it Rhododendron ‘Cirque Du Soleil’. 🙂

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The hardy Geranium ‘Samobor’ has rather faint foliage markings here in this shady woodland, but it can be quite dramatic and splashy in brighter light. I love it with the Hosta, but what don’t I love with Hosta?

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It was SO bright and glarey by the time I got to this point in the garden it was almost impossible to get good shots, so even though this is not ideal light, the IDEA of this design was too good not to share. The very narrow Weeping ‘Blue Atlas’ Cedars all in a row, cascading their cool blue needles down in front of the plain Laurel Hedge was incredible. Adding that great sculpture, made it even better!

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The sea creature or alien factor of this Osmunda regalis stuck with me about this plant. The foliage was pure dark chocolate- extra cool!

IMG_8271.CR2Gold Yew framed this selection of different Epimedium so beautifully!

IMG_8278.CR2A MONSTER Astelia ‘Silver Shadow’ nearly supersedes the amazing Tree fern in the rear.

I hope you enjoyed a very small taste of the yummy foliage buffet at Dunn Gardens this spring. Want more???

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