Tag Archives: Home and Garden

City Living: Contemporary Design Ideas

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The Northwest Flower and Garden Show attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year and the 2016 extravaganza was no exception. With twenty large show gardens, a bustling marketplace, a floral competition, over one hundred seminars and a kids treasure hunt, gardeners of all ages and levels of experience  are  inspired to transform their own space no matter how large or small into something truly special.

On a glass encased bridge with view of the Seattle skyline were ten City Living exhibits that I especially appreciated for the take-away ideas that they offered. Intended to represent a  high rise apartment balcony, the designers were challenged with transforming each 6′ x 12′ space into an outdoor living space using materials that could be transported through a homes interior.

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The display created by Jason Jorgensen of Third Spring Landscape Design stood out for its contemporary aesthetic, marrying interesting geometric shapes with a restrained but youthful color palette and fabulous foliage. Here’s how to get the look.

Create a Picture Frame

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Jason built a simple but sturdy pergola to visually frame the space while also creating a ‘ceiling’ from which to hang planters and string inexpensive lights. Treated with a semi-translucent grey stain the overall effect is soft and warm. Fresh sawn dark brown cedar, the default PNW construction lumber would have been too harsh a color for this setting. This stain adds a sense of instant age yet the lack of embellishments such as finials on the posts or tails on the cross beams ensures that style remains contemporary rather than rustic. The scene has been set.

Furniture Selection

Jason approached Room and Board for use of this attractive Crescent sofa upholstered in a warm mid-grey canvas. The choice of a white frame keeps the  look fresh and avoids appearing overtly masculine, something which pared down design can often do. White was also chosen for the Gehry bench, pressed into service as a coffee table and Kubik stool which serves as a side table, both unusual, oblique shapes. As such the bench becomes quite the focal and talking point. Don’t be afraid of introducing one solid looking piece of furniture like this even into such a small space. It is functional (as a table or extra seating) as well as sculptural art. Selecting furniture that can be used in multiple ways is also important when space is limited. Flexibility and adaptability are key.

Container Selection

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Keeping with the contemporary theme, the six, sleek, cylindrical containers  vary in height and color (grey and white) but notice how the two groups flanking the sofa are placed asymmetrically for interest. When selecting containers for a contemporary setting avoid fussy shapes, too many colors or additional decoration. Solid colors in a matte finish work well.

Behind the sofa, two custom planters interlock, allowing the designer to introduce more plant material but also bringing a bold splash of turquoise into the scene, a color which is repeated in the hanging hover planters suspended from the pergola. All these pots are from Pot Incorporated.

Plant Palette

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Cool foliage and interesting textures are two hallmarks of contemporary garden design and this small space has great examples. With a total of eight floor containers and three hanging planters it would be easy to introduce lots of different plants and colors. Instead Jason has kept to a monochromatic scheme of green and white with just a hint of  gold (love this use of the conifer Golden Spreader fir (Abies n. ‘Golden Spreader’)) and deep burgundy for contrast. The cylindrical containers on either side of the space are planted as mirror images of one another.

Foliage plants such as variegated Spider’s Web Japanese aralia (Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’), fatshedera (Fatshedera lizei ‘Aureo Maculata’) and Ascot Rainbow spurge (Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’) mingle with grass-like Silver Shadow astelia (Astelia ‘Silver Shadow’) while darker cordyline (Cordyline australis ‘Renegade’), evergreen mountain pepper (Drimys lanceolata) and the green bark of a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Shidava Gold’) add height.

The evergreen succulent Angelina stone crop spills over the edges of several containers while blue and white spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, grape hyacinth, dwarf iris and snowdrops add seasonal color. Two additional small Indonesian pots, found at a local import store were set on the floor and just planted with a few bulbs. These can easily be set aside or replanted as needed and are small enough to set on a table for a new look.

Finishing Touches

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A few throw pillows in navy and white and a navy ottoman add an elegant touch while cobalt blue votives in a geometric metal frame become wall art as well as accent lighting.

The theme of this years show was America the Beautiful, so Jason has given a final nod to patriotic colors by adding a red cafetiere – and watering can.

Small this space may be but it is stunning in its stylish simplicity- LOVE IT!

Which show displays have inspired you? Do let us know by leaving a comment here or on our Facebook page.

Fine Foliage for Clay Soils

Anyone who has ever broken a pick axe or had to use a digging bar to plant even the smallest plant knows the torture of gardening in clay soils. Whether your clay is a sculptors sort of muck or more like rock and sometimes even both, spending your gardening hours chipping, scraping and banging your way to your dream landscape in clay takes patience and fortitude.

Fortunately, there are secret weapons that can turn you hours of sweaty labor into less of a dreadful return on investment. First weapon of choice is using the right tool for working in clay so that you aren’t working harder than is really necessary. I won’t go through the myriad of available tools, but I’ll just mention my favorite here, and it is indeed a “digging bar”. This is what mine looks like, but there are a number of types and my neighbors borrow it constantly. 🙂

The second weapon is ironically, improving your soil. The old adage “Never put a five dollar plant in a ten cent hole.” By adding compost, and other high quality soil amendments to your clay soil, you help the beneficial organisms in your soil to literally grow MORE good soil. If you continue to do this over time, you will end up with the deepest and dreamiest soil. Here is the name of one of my very favorite soil amendments by Kellogg Garden Products- Soil Building Conditioner, made specifically for helping to break up and add nutrient density to heavy clay soils.

Fine Foliage for Clay Soils
The other, and MUCH more important tool in your arsenal for saving money, time and labor when landscaping in clay soil is, wait for it….., “RIGHT PLANT, RIGHT PLACE”! Choosing the best possible plant options to thrive in your soil type from the very beginning makes for lazy gardening in the best possible way!

So to that end, Team Fine Foliage presents you with just a handful of extra yummy foliage based options to consider for your landscape if you suffer with clay soil like we do!

Switchgrass or Panicum v. 'Shenandoah' or 'North Wind' are some handsome medium sized grass for the middle of the border.

Switchgrass or Panicum v. ‘Shenandoah’ or ‘North Wind’ are handsome choices for medium-sized grasses in the middle of a border.

Pennisetum 'Hameln' or 'Burgundy Bunny' are long time favorites of ours!

Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ or ‘Burgundy Bunny’ are long time favorites of ours!

'Little Blue Stem' is a favorite yet little known option for many parts of the country.

‘Little Blue Stem’ is a favorite yet little known option for many parts of the country.

Miscanthus sinensis in all of its late summer glory!

Miscanthus sinensis in all of its late summer glory!

Miscanthus saneness left to stand over winter so that the soft blooms shine when not much else is in the spotlight.

Miscanthus sinensis left to stand over winter so that the soft blooms shine when not much else is in the spotlight.

Amsonia is a wonderful staple plant for many landscapes for it's spring blooms and incredible fall color, not to mention soft billowy texture.

Amsonia is a wonderful staple plant for many landscapes for its spring blooms and incredible fall color, not to mention soft billowy texture.

Bergenia is a wonderfully easy plant in clay soils and comes in SO many varieties from flower to leaf.

Bergenia is a wonderfully easy plant in clay soils and comes in SO many varieties from flower to leaf.

Hellebores are an exceptional option for winter flowering in clay soils, not to mention fantastic foliage options!

Helleborus are an exceptional option for winter flowering in clay soils, not to mention fantastic foliage options! This is one of the lesser known types, the Bearsfoot Hellebore.

Take one perennial with showy evergreen foliage and add unique late winter/early spring blooms and BOOM! You get a clay tolerant super star! Hellebore 'Silver Lace'

Take one perennial with showy evergreen foliage and add unique late winter/early spring blooms and BOOM! You get a clay tolerant super star! Hellebore ‘Silver Lace’

Hardy geranium are a wonderful group of clay tolerant flowering perennials with a wide variety of style options. This one is 'Samobor' featuring distinctive black markings.

Hardy geranium are a wonderful group of clay tolerant flowering perennials with a wide variety of style options. This one is ‘Samobor’ featuring distinctive black markings.

Coral bells or Heuchera are plants that come in a wide variety of colors and growth habits for clay soils. They do particularly well in containers if you have any deer and rabbit problems too.

Coral bells or Heuchera are plants that come in a wide variety of colors and growth habits for clay soils. They do particularly well in containers if you have any deer and rabbit problems too.

Another glamor shot of Coral Bells for you!

Another glamor shot of Coral Bells for you!

Good old Hosta has roots practically made of cast iron for clay soils!

Good old Hosta has roots practically made of cast iron for clay soils!

Who but Team Fine Foliage is going to give you Coral Bells, Hardy Geranium AND Hosta foliage all in one shot?!

Who but Team Fine Foliage is going to give you Coral Bells, Hardy Geranium AND Hosta foliage all in one shot?!

Would you ever imagine Sedum spectacle to be happy in clay soils? It's a champ! This one is 'Neon' with its exh uberant pink flowers!

Would you ever imagine Sedum spectacle to be happy in clay soils? It’s a champ! This one is ‘Neon’ with its exuberant pink flowers!

Yucca are wonderful in clay soils for the giant tap root that they put out that helps them survive.

Yucca are wonderful in clay soils for the giant tap-root that they put out that helps them survive.

Soft Leaved Yucca

Soft Leaved Yucca

From the simple to sublime, there are conifers for clay soil as well! This Juniper is a classic.

From the simple to sublime, there are conifers for clay soil as well! This Juniper is a classic.

Pines are a typically clay soil tolerant plant category too! This one is flanked by a pair of Japanese maples that are also clay tolerant!

Pines are a typically clay soil tolerant plant category too! This one is flanked by a pair of Japanese maples that are also clay tolerant!

A Team Fine Foliage favorite- Spirea! This is 'Magic Carpet'.

A Team Fine Foliage favorite- Spiraea! This is ‘Magic Carpet’.

This little know hybrid of Weigela is called 'My Monet', a fabulous dwarf cultivar that blooms fabulously as well as having this great foliage color combo AND tolerates clay soils.

This little know hybrid of Weigela is called ‘My Monet’, a fabulous dwarf cultivar that blooms fabulously as well as having this great foliage color combo AND tolerates clay soils.

Birch is a wonderful tree option for clay soils.

Birch is a wonderful tree option for clay soils.

The notoriously long lived Ginkgo tree can attain much of its longevity because of its tolerance to heavy soils.

The notoriously long-lived Ginkgo tree can attain much of its longevity because of its tolerance to heavy soils.

So now you have a SMALL taste for what you can choose for everything from perennials to ground covers and shrubs to trees, we expect to hear about all of the Fine Foliage that YOU discover at your local garden center to try in your clay soil. Toil no more!

Here are two great resources for a MUCH more expanded list; 1) Royal Horticulture Society, Plants for Clay Soils 2) The Missouri Botanical Garden’s list and additional tips. 

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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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End of the Year Fine Foliage HOT List

As we wrap up 2015, lets take a speedy peek at what is looking fantastic in foliage and twig for the rest of winter. If cabin fever is starting to hit you, dreaming and planning for how you can add these amazing winter details to your landscape and containers is a good idea!

Contorted Filbert takes center stage in this large container for winter interest in the front garden landscape.

Contorted Filbert takes center stage in this large container for winter interest in the front garden landscape.

Hellebore foliage is ALWAYS the height of fashion!

Hellebore foliage is ALWAYS the height of fashion!

Need a classy, hardy tree for your landscape to replace troublesome disease mongers who don't perform well? The Paperbark Maple has it ALL!

Need a classy, hardy tree for your landscape to replace troublesome disease mongers who don’t perform well? The Paperbark maple has it ALL!

This young Paperbark maple shows off the famous reddish peeling bark.

This young Paperbark maple shows off the famous reddish peeling bark.

Grasses may be frozen where you are, but even cold grasses are beautiful when the low winter light shines through.

Grasses may be frozen where you are, but even cold grasses are beautiful when the low winter light shines through. Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ is a wonderful one for it’s “Bunny Tails” that wave their fuzzy little tops in winter wind.

Are you collecting amazing dwarf conifers yet? Team Fine Foliage hopes so! When you add a fabulous grass like Carex 'Everest' you just doubled down on your landscape investment by adding a light and airy variegated plant too.

Are you collecting amazing dwarf conifers yet? Team Fine Foliage hopes so! When you add a fabulous grass like Carex ‘Everest’ you just doubled down on your landscape investment by adding a light and airy variegated plant too.

I am FULLY obsessed with this winter combo pot near my front entry; A half-high blueberry and 'Midget' ivy in full on winter color finery!

I am FULLY obsessed with this winter combo pot near my front entry; A half-high blueberry and ‘Midget’ ivy in full on winter color finery!

Who says winter containers have to be bland and boring?! Amp up the color with light foliage like Heuchera 'Lime Rickey', one of our favorite shrubs, Pieris 'Little Heath', a handsome white tipped Hemlock shrub named 'Gentsch White' and just a peekaboo of white variegated Acorus grass.

Who says winter containers have to be bland and boring?! Amp up the design energy with light foliage like Heuchera ‘Lime Rickey’, one of our favorite shrubs, Pieris ‘Little Heath’, a handsome white tipped Hemlock shrub named ‘Gentsch White’ and just a peekaboo of white variegated Acorus grass.

Last but NOT least is the UBER drama that this amazing foliage brings to a mild climate landscape or container! This is 'Camouflage' Variegated Japanese Aralia up against the amazing color of azaleas showing off their red winter foliage. What a combo!!

Last but NOT least is the UBER drama that this amazing foliage brings to a mild climate landscape or container! This is ‘Camouflage’ Variegated Japanese Aralia up against the amazing color of azaleas showing off their red winter foliage. What a combo!!

Team Fine Foliage wishes you a happy, healthy and super LEAFY 2016!!!

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Shop for Collectors Conifers for the Landscape Today!

Who doesn’t love to shop? Not to mention when its your fall landscape assignment from Team Fine Foliage! One of the topics that we get asked about constantly is how to get more color and interest in the fall and winter landscape. And since everyone’s climate challenges are slightly different conifers remain one of the category of plants that seems to cross all of the USDA hardiness lines for the plants that everyone can appreciate in some form or another.

I will readily admit that plant names in general are never my strength for memory retention, and trees are at the top of that list. So, as you peruse the photos below hang with me, if I know the name of a tree, I will list it. If not, I won’t but that is where YOU come in; if YOU know the name and its not listed here, drop us a note in the comments and I will add it. Sometimes in the world of working 2or 3 jobs at a time, I don’t always have the time to properly ID some plants before posting- sorry FF Gang!

The idea with this post is to get you thinking about what conifers would look great in your landscape and to get your little landscaping rear-end to your nearest Independent Garden Center to get them as soon as possible before it gets too cold and the selection has dwindled. This is a fine time for digging and planting as the weather is still fairly mild in most locations and the work weather is divine!

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

This uber blue cypress is a columnar one that looks gorgeous in spring with this Heuchera ‘Delta Dawn’ planted below.

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

The same blue cypress as above, but this time, showing you the incredibly pretty hydrangea paniculata ‘Quick Fire’ foliage with it in fall.

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

My own beloved Weeping Larch in spring. Don’t you just want to pet those baby soft needles???

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

The incredible warm gold of the needles just before they drop in late fall.

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

You may have seen Team Fine Foliage refer to this one as “Mr. Wissel”, he is officially ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’ cypress. 🙂 A Columnar standout for the landscape in all four seasons.

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

A lovely example of delicate gold details on this cedar, the red twig dogwood makes it even better!

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

Another favorite that makes you just want to reach out and feel the feathery soft needles- the Cryptomeria elegans ‘Aurea’. Paired with this Ilex, a textural feast for the eyes.

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

A Cryptomeria elegans showing off its famous winter color!

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

Cryptomeria elegans paired with this gold cypress is eye-catching here in winter.

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

Possibly more pedestrian for some folks, but for many Italian Cypress feels quite decadent and exotic. The larger scale pine in the foreground is a good dark contrast.

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

This columnar blue cypress paired with the broad leaves of magnolia and the delicate grass in the foreground are a wonderful compliment to one another.

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

The cones of the weeping ‘Blue Atlas’ cedar are worth it for the winter interest alone, not to mention the color of the blue needles against that red maple in the background!

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

Arizona cypress has been a favorite of mine for over 20 years. That BLUE and columnar growth habit are hard to beat!!

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Feeling fancy? Then maybe this truly collectors ‘Wollemi’ pine is right up your alley. The story about how this tree was discovered is VERY cool via National Geographic- Google it! 🙂

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

Other than the INCREDIBLE blue of the sky in Denver, this columnar pine tree is pretty spectacular too!!

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

An affordable way to collect small conifers is to buy the one made for container gardens and miniature gardens and grow them on in containers until they are sized up for the landscape.

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

Crazy cool and unusual is the Cryptomeria ‘Cristata’. Remind me to tell you all a very funny story about this tree one day. LOL

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

One of my clients picked out this gold pine to go into a container in her landscape. Its gorgeous against this red leaved Japanese maple.

Start Shopping for Collectors Conifers Now for the Landscape!

A ‘Chief Joseph’ pine is good one for the small garden and provides a wonderful accent to the winter garden as it lights up dark days!

What conifers are you shopping for in your landscape this year? Let us know, drop us a comment below! 

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Stylish Early Fall Shade Garden

One of the most common complaints that I hear from design clients about their gardens is that they feel defeated about what to do in the shade garden. After spending time and energy trying plants that were too water needy, can’t tolerate being moist, disease prone or simply needing more light than they realized, it absolutely can be frustrating, not to mention expensive.
So, when I mention some of the great shade standards such as hosta, they scrunch their face up and reply with a response that usually describes their boredom and lack of enthusiasm for these seemingly “pedestrian” options. However, when we begin to talk about the exquisite varieties that they can plant and which plant pairings can go with them such as conifers and grasses, there is a distinct change of expression and excitement like a little kid who can’t wait for Christmas.
Here are a few early fall shade garden examples of just such options this week from the spectacular garden called PowellsWood in Federal Way, Washington. Much of this garden resides under mature fir trees with superb plant pairings that absolutely shine in the shade.
Stylish Early Fall Shade GardensStylish Early Fall Shade GardenThese chalky blue hosta (‘Hadspen Blue’) or ‘Halcyon’ are the perfect counterpoint under the chartreuse color of the Japanese maple. Layered together with one of the MOST unique new hosta available called ‘Praying Hands’ with its upright dark green, wavy foliage featuring fine white edge details, it is one of my favorite vignettes in the entire garden.
At the back of this captivating foliage combination, the tips of a hemlock shrub, ‘Gentsch White’ glow in a soft and misty white detail. It will grow up and have even more prominence standing up over this combination in the future.
Stylish Early Fall Shade GardenSplendid Chinese wild ginger spreads out elegantly in the shade of this palm tree garden paired with Astelia ‘Westland’ that sports a subtle bronze stripe. The spiky upright habit of the Astelia is perfectly suited in size and lacy texture of the Japanese ‘Tassel’ fern while billowy grasses thrive partial shade in the background to compliment them.
There is no need to be frustrated and disenchanted with your shade garden plants. These photos in a spectacular shade garden illustrate how common types of plants in uncommon forms, paired with new options you may never have considered, can give you stylish options. Ask your local independent garden center to provide new and unique plants that will inspire you to try combinations that excite and delight you in your shade garden

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Heavy Metal in the Shade Garden

You might guess that Team Fine Foliage is NOT talking about heavy metal music. But, just in case this headline threw you off and you were Googling something on an altogether different topic, be warned that the heavy metal we’re referring to here is foliage. 🙂
The classy hues that bronze, copper and silver bring to the garden, unlike screaming heavy metal music, are subtle, rich and diverse. Whether foliage in these tones are used in sun or in shade, there are a million and one design uses. This time we focus on a combination in the shade on a container design that is on the smaller side, sitting on a side table for up-close viewing of the amazing textures represented.
Heavy Metal in the Shade Garden
This bromeliad or Vriesea fosteriana rubra is the anchor plant for the combination giving a backbone of stiff upright foliage for the other more soft and cascading plants to sit around. The nice thing about using a tough plant like this for a tabletop combination is that this shallow dish of plants won’t need a lot of pampering. The other bonus that you get when using this admittedly pricy collectors plant is that it makes a wonderful houseplant at the end of the season if you wish to winter over your investment for next year.
The feature colors here are the metallics, such as bronze, copper and silvery whites, which may seem much too subtle for a spot where there is low light. But, it works when paired with the crisp whites, fresh green as well as rose tones.
Heavy Metal in the Shade GardenThe next layer is the crinkled, texturally abundant Pilea spruceana which is another houseplant used outside in this combination and it worked beautifully! These plants are super easy and gratifying to grow as they also need very little love. Take note of how the metallic tones along with the shades of rose work in perfect unison with the Bromeliad here! Same tones, totally different textures, but the similar needs in the way of light and water.
Heavy Metal in the Shade Garden

This is what happens when you truly look at ALL the varied departments in the nursery for your summer container design choices. Sometimes a combination of colors, forms and textures meet on your cart and work as if you planned it! At least that’s what this designer is claiming if anyone asks. 🙂
Heavy Metal in the ShadeNow to re-enforce with flower color! YES- flowers indeed! Have you seen this one before? It’s one trailing shade, part sun flowering annual that I can’t live without. Its called Mimulus or Monkey Flower and comes in a wide variety of colors that include intense yellow, orange, reds, white and other shades too. This particular cultivar is just one of the “Magic Spring Blossoms Mix” of Mimulus cousins, so be sure to ask for it at your local independent garden center.
The rose color in this particular plant works brilliantly well here! You can also see the wispy Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ here as well as a crisp contrast to the rest of the subtle and muted tones.
Heavy Metal in the Shade Garden

TA-DA!!! You can clearly see how it all came together here with the addition of the very crisp white Lobelia ‘Techno-Heat’ white as well as the leafy green asparagus fern. What do you think? Did I do these plants justice?

Use heavy metal in YOUR garden and let us know what foliage plants YOU chose and how they all work together. Share your images on our Fine Foliage Facebook page.

 

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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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Getting FIERCE with Fine Foliage

Getting FIERCE with Fine FoliageSummer is no time to be timid with your landscape design. We only have a short window for this garden magnificence and TEAM Fine Foliage says that you need to GO FOR IT! Whether in container or more large-scale, your garden should be a place that fills you with joy and excitement.
The color bonanza above is a BOLD over-the-top example and obviously not all of us can do this but please, this post BEGS you to imagine your world beyond the typical and everyday plants. Get crazy, think out of the box, try new things!
Getting FIERCE with Fine FoliageOur post is LOADED this week with tropical feeling inspiration to shake you up a bit and get your design juices flowing with ideas that YOU can try. You can take these ideas and translate them from the idea of color schemes, textural ideas, scale, etc. The point is to study what brings you inspiration to try something NEW!
Getting FIERCE with Fine Foliage
Cool colors are your thing? Easy-peasy! This bromeliad sports quite the handsome lavender glow in the pot where a simple variegated ivy snuggles up the base of the plant and acts like an uplight. What could you use in place of this giant collectors plant that might be hardy in your garden?
Getting FIERCE with Fine Foliage
Do you yearn for a feminine esthetic? Citrus colors mixed with pale pink in this scene are not only soft and refined, but BOLD! 
Getting FIERCE with Fine FoliageIf you simply MUST have your geraniums, then why not pair them with euphorbia ‘Fire Sticks’ and Carex ‘Cappuccino’ to mix it up a bit and try something unexpected.

Getting FIERCE with Fine Foliage

The wow factor of these colors together is undeniable. Both subtle AND kind of savage at the same time! Acalypha and dracaena make fine friends in a container that compliments them with so much style!
Getting FIERCE with Fine Foliage
Could this dracaena BE any more well named? ‘Colorama’! Paired here in a captivating graphic combination with ‘Saffron-Spike’ Aphelandra they are a designers dream for inspiring new ideas! I know that your brain is just zooming with ideas isn’t it? This is how we come up with new ideas and plant combinations, we take fantasy and apply it to our own small-scale gardens and containers. What would your foliage plant combo be based on THIS photo?

Getting FIERCE with Fine Foliage
HOLY COLOR WHEEL BATMAN! Yes, that is a LOT of color. Clear, true primary colors always work together. But here, the take away is to notice the strong, broad strappy leaves of the bromeliads give a green place for your eye to rest and cool off. So, even though this is based on flowers, it’s a foliage that saves the day!

Getting FIERCE with Fine Foliage
The use of tasty edibles in containers is classy against the off-white stucco, but the DRAMA of the giant lemon colored schefflera in a deep blue pot adds that spark of powerful intensity. Not only that, it beautifully echoes the tile art on the wall too. 

Here is a peek at how I translated a little bit of FIERCE into a container for one of my more adventurous clients this summer.
Getting FIERCE with Fine Foliage

Getting FIERCE with Fine Foliage

Have you got some tough shade but still want to have some intense combinations? Here are the couple of powerful combos that are under the shade of large trees. See? Scale, drama, texture bring this to design fruition with only a few small blooms!
Getting FIERCE with Fine FoliageGetting FIERCE with Fine Foliage
Here is my take on these extraordinary combinations for a shade container for that same courageous client….
Getting FIERCE with Fine Foliage


Now go out there and snap some photos of YOUR FIERCE Fine Foliage designs and share them with us on Facebook!

 

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