Tag Archives: Garden Books

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

Gardening with Foliage First: Sneak Peek #1!

After months of writing, photographing, proof reading and waiting….we are closer to getting our new book Gardening with FOLIAGE FIRST out into the gardening world! The talented team at Timber Press has now released our COVER which we are excited to share with you.

ChapmanSalwitz_RetouchedPhoto

What’s it all about?

Enjoy this excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Sensational Scenes, Expansive Ideas, and Original Thinking

What do you get when you let two designers loose in a nursery? A car filled to overflowing with a wild assortment of trees, shrubs, perennials, and more. It is a given that you will not be able to see out of the rear window, and you should expect to have plants on the seats, on the floor, and in cup holders. It is only when plants are precariously balanced on the dashboard that we think we may have enough.

But these are not just any plants. The majority will be an outrageous selection of foliage plants with enormous tropical leaves jostling feathery grasses; stripes, spots, and splashes alongside bold solid colors from vibrant orange to deepest purple. Tucked in here and there will be some flowering plants. Experience has taught us that these truly perform, either with a reliably long bloom time or interesting leaves as well as flowers.

As designers, speakers, and coauthors, we have gained a reputation for being entertaining as well as inspiring and for sharing our expertise in a way that is easy to understand. We encourage and challenge each other, which brings out the best in both of us. This, in turn, provides readers with a much broader range of ideas than either one of us could accomplish alone. Together we have fun while we walk you through our design process, which puts foliage first, then adds a final flourish to take the scene from predictable to exceptional.

The Floral Seduction

When you go to the grocery store, you probably have a plan (or at least a recipe) in mind. But how often do you take a shopping list to the nursery? Without forethought, you are headed for disaster—it is too easy to get seduced by all the colorful flowers so prominently displayed. On impulse, you grab one of this and one of that, and when you get home that collection of pretty blooms never quite translates into a glossy magazine image. It is just a wild kaleidoscope with no cohesive sense of design—or, worse, the blooms fade, and you spent a lot of money on a short-term burst of glory. What went wrong?

You may have chosen plants that are individually beautiful, but did you consider whether they look good together? Is there a visual connection between them? Or perhaps you succumbed to the display of blooming annuals and perennials, the enticing photographs promising an abundance of flowers in summer. But how many months do you need to wait for the plants to reach that stage—and how long will they bloom? If you focus on the flowers without considering the foliage, you may end up with a disappointing mélange of midsize green leaves for much of the year, not a unified, well-designed look. It is far more effective, and attractive, to start with foliage.

Taking the Next Step

After building a foliage framework, we show you how to layer in flowers or other artistic elements to add the finishing touch. We take the mystery out of the design process and explain what makes a combination successful. If you follow our ideas or use them as a springboard for your own creations, you will feel like we are your personal design coaches.

In this book, we demonstrate how quickly and easily you can assemble plants that reflect your personal style and suit the largest border or smallest container. We teach you how to make strategic plant choices, clarify why certain plants are great investments for year-round interest, and explain how every element will help you achieve a cohesive look.

Inspiration for All Seasons, Situations, and Settings

Our ideas go beyond the typical summer growing season. The book is divided into two main sections—Spring and Summer, Fall and Winter—both of which feature design schemes for sun and shade situations. You will be able to create a true four-season garden that will work for your style and design challenges. Are you still trying to outwit the deer? We feel your pain, and have included Beauty Without the Beast just for you. Looking for something to add winter interest to your cold-climate garden? We were inspired by Serendipity and we think you will be, too. Do you prefer a hot, spicy color palette? Sassitude is sizzling hot. Need ideas for a fall container? Pumpkin Spice Latte is just one of the flavors on the menu.

We scoured gardens from British Columbia to Arizona to Florida to Washington State to find designs to delight, inspire, and embolden you to try new ideas, new plants, and new ways of looking at plant combinations. There are ideas for small patio containers to large sweeping borders, and everything in between. Each combination includes an explanation of how it works. Many of our favorite plants have multiple periods of significance, and this section discusses how each component evolves during the year and offers ideas on how to extend the season of interest even further.

New gardeners will quickly gain confidence as they learn how to select plants that work together, as well as how to identify the details that create a strong foliage picture frame for the flowers on which they may have initially focused. Intermediate gardeners will learn how to transform their gardens from a jumble of collectors’ plants to a carefully composed design, while those with many years of dirt under their fingernails will be inspired by a fresh twist on old favorites—plus exciting new introductions that will spark the imagination and help you craft unique creations.

Want to see more?

We’ll be sharing a few sample pages with you in the upcoming weeks with juicy never-been-seen-before images. For now we’ll just reveal a little more of the stunning combination created by talented plantswoman Mary M. Palmer selected for our cover shot. We’ve called it….

Treasure Hunt

Gardening with Foliage First, Timber Press 2017, Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz

Design by Mary M. Palmer, Snohomish, WA

WHY THIS WORKS; There are some plants that you just have to have – and this treasure trove will have you writing up a new shopping list. Glossy black leaves of a unique daphne join a new sea holly that sports spiky golden foliage, which in turn makes the bright silvery blue of a prostrate noble fir seemingly shimmer. Surrounding these collector’s gems are more familiar shrubs and perennials but in this company they are all transformed into precious jewels.

PINNACLE OF PERFECTION; As summer transitions to fall the barberry will turn crimson and the rhododendron may contribute some red flowers to the scene. Although the daphne will lose foliage in a harsh winter and the sea holly will become dormant, the conifer and rhododendron will provide winter color, to be joined in spring by flowers on both the daphne and Ostbo’s Elizabeth rhododendron. Pruning of the conifer and rhododendron may be necessary to maintain this balance of riches.

In our book Gardening with Foliage First we have provided plant portraits and full details of all these horticultural treasures. Here’s a simple plant list to pacify your plant-lust cravings for now

FOLIAGE FRAMEWORK

Ostbo’s Elizabeth rhododendron (Rhododendron ‘Ostbo’s Elizabeth’)  Hardy in zones 6-8

Prostrate blue noble fir (Abies procera ‘Glauca Prostrata’) . Zones 4-8

Black daphne (Daphne x houtteana)  Zones 6-9

Bagatelle barberry (Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Bagatelle’) . Zones 5-8

FINISHING TOUCH

Neptune’s Gold sea holly (Eryngium x zabelli ‘Neptune’s Gold’) Zones 5-9

Want to pre-order?

It just so happens we can help you there. Even without sample pages or editorial reviews it is showing as the #1 New Release in the Ornamental Gardening category on Amazon as I’m writing this! We understand it will be available late January 2017.

Pre-order with special pricing here

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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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