Tag Archives: Fine Foliage

Fine Foliage Fusion

It’s going to be a stunning spring day here in the Pacific Northwest and I’m thinking about shade combinations with pink foliage. All of these plants are on my back porch waiting for their starring role in my client’s landscapes and containers for the summer.

Obviously, there are still more choices to add to this for more contrast, but I wanted to focus on some of the amazing foliage at my fingertips today in this slim color profile. There’s an unending number of coleus and caladium options that I can add in here too, just too many to share today. What other pink foliage can you think of for a shade garden or container?

As I get ready to run out the door to get working, I hope you enjoy a quick little tour of the pink display I’m enjoying right outside my window until they get installed!

Cordyline fruticosa

Variegated Fuchsia Magellanica

Rex Begonia

Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’

Hypoestes (Polka Dot plant)

Fine Foliage Fusion

Fittonia ‘Pink Angel’

Fine Foliage Fusion

Fittonia ‘Frankie’

Deschampsia ‘Northern Lights’

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Spring Bloomers that Keep on GOING!

Now why on earth is Team Fine Foliage extolling the praises of FLOWERS you may ask? Because THESE spring blooming perennials have outstanding foliage, either by virtue of color or texture, that continues to add value to the landscape through fall or even beyond. (Part-timers that peter out mid-summer don’t qualify for this list). Intrigued?

Jack Frost Siberian Bugloss

Jack Frost collage

Landscape design by Edith Silbert, as featured in Gardening with Foliage First (Timber Press, 2017)

First to bloom, last to fade. That means color, bold texture and remarkable performance from March to late October in my  garden.

Forget-me-not type flowers are perfect for  diminutive posies, blooming for well over a month. The silver veined green leaves expand to form large mounds of heart shaped gorgeousness – stunning with ferns, hostas and all your other favorite shade perennials. They also work exceptionally well in containers.

Still not convinced? Think FREE PLANTS. Those clumps keep getting bigger and it is really easy to separate out small plants to add to other areas of your garden. Why not create a “river” of these as Adrian Bloom does in his world-renowned garden?

Check out all the fine details of this stunning perennial here.

Pasqueflower

Pasqueflower collage 2

I first got to know  pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) in England, finding the purple flowers enchanting and invariably in bloom at Easter time. Many decades and a cross-Atlantic voyage later, I realized that there was far more to this spring perennial than just the flowers.

The lacy, fern-like foliage is a wonderful textural addition to the garden, and is evergreen in mild winters for me. Children of all ages will be fascinated by the fuzz of silky-white hairs that cover the stems and buds creating a halo effect that adds to the charm. Even after the flowers fade, don’t be too quick to nip them off – check out the seedheads!

Varieties are now available with red, purple, rose or lavender flowers. Use them to line a pathway where you can enjoy the details up close. The delicate foliage looks good with bolder textures such as lungwort (shown below) and variegated winter daphne

Cheddar Pinks

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Although these don’t start blooming until mid-spring, Cheddar Pinks (Dianthus gratianopolitanus) make up for lost time, often re-blooming in fall.  Their spicy, fragrance is unforgettable.

Colors are mostly in the pink family, with plenty of named varieties to choose from but my favorite is Firewitch. Intense magenta-pink flowers are set off by the cushion of blue-grey foliage to perfection. Shearing off the spent flowering stalks in mid-summer will encourage the re-bloom; well worth a few minutes on your hands and knees with a pair of scissors!

But that foliage is swoon-worthy alone. Evergreen, compact, drought tolerant, deer resistant and rabbit resistant, the clumps expand slowly to become a weed-smothering groundcover that thrives in a well drained sunny area (but tolerates my amended clay soil, despite references to suggest otherwise).

Combine it with foliage in shades of silver for a romantic look e.g. Bella Grigio lamb’s ears, or add drama with deep chocolate foliage such as Little Devil ninebark or Spilled Wine weigela. Mmmm.

English Primrose

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Now I’m not talking about those psychedelic horrors you see outside the grocery stores! Such in-your-face colors scream too loud for my tastes.

I’m talking here about the true native (to the UK) primrose – a soft buttermilk yellow that blends easily with other plants , is reliably perennial, and encourages chubby children’s fingers to pluck a few stems for a thimble-sized table display. The flowers even have a faint scent too.

I’ve included them here as you may be surprised to learn that the crinkled green foliage grows into a large hosta-sized mound by mid-summer and those clumps are easy to divide in fall or spring to start your own primrose-lined pathway. Unlike hosta, however, they are deer and rabbit resistant. (Oddly enough the rabbits nip the flower buds off my cowslip (Primula veris) but never these).

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I mingle mine with a carpet of Georgia Blue veronica (just starting to bloom) in the woodland garden

Lungwort

Pulmonaria collage

Combination top right featured in our book Fine Foliage (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013)

Another favorite from my childhood growing up in England – lungwort (Pulmonaria sp.). One of the common names for this perennial is “soldiers and sailors” on account of the flowers changing color as they age, from pink to blue.

The variety shown above, inherited when we bought the garden and house) is most likely Mrs. Moon but there are many others to choose from with flowers in deep cobalt blue or lavender-pink.

As you’d expect, the flowers are only the opening act for what becomes an exceptionally long season of interest thanks to the silver and green spotted foliage which grows into monster sized, deer and rabbit resistant clumps. The degree of silver patterning varies  – some varieties have an almost entirely silver leaf. Explore some of the options here.

Although essentially low maintenance, these tips will help you get the most from the plant:

  • After blooming, sheer the entire plant (leaves and flowers) down to the crown. It will regrow within two weeks and the new foliage is much less likely to succumb to mildew by mid-summer
  • In early spring cut away any winter damaged foliage for a cleaner appearance

This perennial is from the borage family – you will feel the similarity in the leaves, so wear gloves to avoid irritation.

Recommended for the shade garden in moisture retentive soil, I also grow it in almost full sun with no irrigation as you can see by the combination with the silver artmesia above. It does fine with just some supplemental water after exceptionally hot summer days – experiment in your own garden. You may be surprised. (My soil is amended clay and mulched)

Others high performing spring bloomers to consider

Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

Barrenwort (Epimedium sp.)

What’s YOUR favorite?

Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page to tell us! And remember you can ideas using these and many more in our books Fine Foliage and Gardening with Foliage First.

Note: this post contains affiliate links

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

Adding Value to the Landscape for Under $20

You should be lazing around and enjoying the fruits of your labor in August, right? It’s too hot to do much else but water the garden, nap in the hammock and barbecue with friends and family. But, as you’re dozing in the shade with your favorite cool beverage, are you also day dreaming of all of the lovely plants that you 1) Neeeeeeeeeeeeed 2) Really really want 3) Drooling over and plan to make phone orders from far flung nurseries in fall?

IMG_1807Rather than heading to the nursery, I have an alternate proposal for you to ponder. Why not take a wee little bit of that plant budget and put it toward “Fine Foliage”? It will never need to be watered on a hot summer day AND you can take it with you to your favorite nursery OR napping spot and plan, plan, plan your fall garden escapades!
blad page 1 - borderIts perfect to go hand in hand with this blog and our fun Facebook page!
We are so darned proud of our book, its luscious photography and what a great value it is as a beautiful hard cover book that we just want everyone to have one!

Christina and Karen Portrait
Debra Prinzing (The 50 Mile Bouquet) wrote this about Fine Foliage “Fine Foliage is a visual treat that will inspire you with dazzling combinations for containers and gardens. This is a great user-friendly design resource, as Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz explain why each combination works – bringing artistic design within easy reach of all gardeners.”

Just imagine all of the Christmas shopping you can done right now- from your nap spot! 🙂

You can buy it today on Amazon OR ask for Fine Foliage at your local independent garden center or find it at many national and independent booksellers.Thanks for all of your unending support and for being our inspiration in the garden!

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Using Pinterest to find Fine Foliage

Beauty and the Beast

http://fine-foliage.com/2013/02/26/beauty-and-the-beast/

This week, I just had to relay a lovely thing that happened to me! When I’m not writing for Fine Foliage, and I’m not working on my business as “The Personal Garden Coach”, and I’m not in my own garden, I am working at a lovely nursery just south of Seattle called Furney’s.

I approached a nice lady looking at some Rodgersia (a VERY cool choice, so I KNOW she had great taste) to offer my help. She told me that she was re-designing a portion of her garden based on this fantastic post that she found via Pinterest. I said, “That’s a wonderful tool for getting inspiration, great idea. What did you see?”

The woman begins to tell me about this post that had a combination of Rodgersia combined with Pieris ‘Little Heath’ and how much she LOVED the foliage texture and contrast, not to mention the rich color tones. Click….Click…Click…. you could hear the gears grinding in my head. “Wait a minute- that’s from my book!”

I’m not sure which one of us was more excited and taken aback by the realization that she had not only stumbled onto and fell in love with a combination we had posted on Pinterest, or that she had run into one of the authors of that book in person when she was looking for those VERY plants! It was a surreal moment to be sure, I will never forget it.
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Have you ever seen Pinterest? I dare you to fall down THAT rabbit hole! Its an amazing tool for so many things. Finding inspiration for garden design ideas is just one small but effective use for sure.

A short explanation of what Pinterest does; Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. It allows users to save images and categorize them on different boards. They can follow other users’ boards if they have similar tastes. Popular categories are travel, cars, food, film, humor, home design, sports, fashion, and art.

Since garden topics and foliage in particular are a such a visual bonanza, its THE perfect medium other than our own blog of course, to create your own personalized scrapbook of ideas to create in your real life!

Here is a link to Karen Chapman’s Pinterest Boards:
http://pinterest.com/jardinetdesigns/

Here is a link to my (Christina Salwitz) Pinterest Boards:
http://pinterest.com/growcoach/boards/

I encourage you to explore our boards or even better, to begin your own Pinterest search for Fine Foliage today. See what inspires you to run straight to the nursery a  plants for YOUR garden!

Enjoy this post?

 

Then join in the foliage party – sign up to get these leafy snippets delivered right to your garden. (Follow the link in the sidebar)