Tag Archives: Horticulture

High Spirit Foliage Color for the 4th

With the 4th of July fast approaching, Team Fine Foliage is dealing with a 100 year, record-setting heat wave here in our typically mild northwest climate (as I sit in front of the AC writing this post). We have surpassed records made in past hot July and August months so far and there seems to be no end in sight. Most of our time when not working on the NEW BOOK “Foliage First”, has been holding a hose or setting up sprinklers.

Karen Chapman's explosion of fireworks Brit style. :-)

Karen Chapman’s explosion of fireworks Brit style. 🙂

Since the vast majority of us can’t let off fireworks here due to the heat advisory and one half of Team Fine Foliage is British anyway, we can get crazy HERE! 🙂 I thought it was a good time to bring you foliage ideas that are both high energy color and high impact forms. Some spiky shapes that mimic fireworks are interesting and maybe they will give your imagination some ammunition to add some explosive foliage interest to YOUR landscape.

An Acalypha that I snapped in Disneyworld, BOLD!!

An Acalypha that I snapped in Disney World, BOLD!!

Red Castor Bean is a showstopper, but can be a bit hard to find. Those giant red leaves are about 2ft. across.

Red Castor Bean is a showstopper, but can be a bit hard to find. Those giant red leaves are about 2ft. across.

I could have stuck with the good old red, white and blue for this post, but I came across SO many other fun bits of color and detail for you that I gave up on that theme. But, there is always this one that you could do in a cobalt blue pot with red and white New Guinea Impatiens right? Someone make that combo and post it for us on the Fine Foliage page!

Drama with Caladium, never fails!

Drama with Caladium, never fails!

High Spirited Foliage for the 4thRed Mandevilla, red Rex begonia and a red sphere, now THAT is some color for a partially shady nook!

Another unique Acalypha harmonizing with orange, bronze and the lavender toned Asters.

Another unique Acalypha harmonizing with orange, bronze and the lavender toned Asters.

Impatien 'Omeiana' is ALMOST like fireworks in the shade garden!

Impatiens ‘Omeiana’ is ALMOST like fireworks in the shade garden!

A reddish Bromeliad in a patriotic blue pot makes a statement!

A reddish Bromeliad in a patriotic blue pot makes a statement!

Canna makes a wonderful backdrop for airy Gamma Grass like little sparks shooting up from the pot!

Canna makes a wonderful backdrop for airy Gamma Grass like little sparks shooting up from the pot!

Now THIS is a fireworks display!!

Now THIS is a fireworks display!!

There are always blue foliage plants (for the good old Red, White and Blue) that are dramatic and stunning around, sometimes you just have to think out of the box a bit. 🙂

High Spirited Foliage for the 4th

'Silver Swan' euphorbia with 'Quicksilver' Hebe.

‘Silver Swan’ Euphorbia with ‘Quicksilver’ Hebe.

Melianthus

Melianthus

White foliage can be white HOT in sun or in shade!

'Spider Web' Fatsia

‘Spider Web’ Fatsia

Creamy off-white foliage from variegated Cordyline is plenty classy on it's own in a container.

Creamy off-white foliage from variegated Cordyline is plenty classy on its own in a container.

Garden Art, soft Mexican feather grass and one lone canna leaf glowing like a burning ember make for an unexpectedly electric combo of form and colors.

Garden Art, soft Mexican feather grass and one lone canna leaf glowing like a burning ember make for an unexpectedly electric combo of form and colors.

HOLY COW Yankee Doodle look at that BIG BOLD showy foliage in white? :-)

HOLY COW Yankee Doodle look at that BIG BOLD showy foliage in white?

Look at that, it’s time for me to go out and water the landscape, we should talk succulents next time. 🙂

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The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Team Fine Foliage is in full blown garden design and planting time for spring. This means that our fans get to revel in even MORE juicy photos while we are out in the leaves and out from behind the computer!

This week we take a look at the multitude of ways you might choose to highlight spheres in your garden with foliage. Pairing all manner of spheres and round objects from planted to recycled to ceramic and metal with amazing foliage makes them stand out and shows off YOUR art in the garden. Enjoy some of the collected photos from my photo library that feature some incredible foliage AND unique art in the round. 🙂

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Design by Heather Little Bradley

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Dale Chihuly at the Columbus Conservatory

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Design by JJ DeSousa

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Design by Linda Ernst

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

In the garden named Floramagoria, Portland Oregon

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Floramagoria, Portland Oregon

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Linda Ernst Garden

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Mitch Evans Garden

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Joanne White Garden

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Eppings Garden

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Bella Madrona Garden, Portland, Oregon

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Bella Madrona Garden, Portland, Oregon

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

Unknown artist at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show

The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball The Belle of the Foliage Garden Ball

 

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A Must-Have Tree for Spring Foliage

Weeping Larch in Spring

If you have a large sweeping landscape with acreage and views that extend far past what you can see from the house or if you have a San Francisco style property like mine with more of a courtyard style landscape, the Weeping Larch (Larix decidua ‘Pendula’) is a tree that will add drama no matter the season.

You may not be familiar with deciduous conifers like the family of Larch, but this is the one you might want to invest some time to look into it for your garden. It would likely become one of your favorites. It sure has become one of mine!

This family of trees and shrubs have needles, cones and when they lose their needles in autumn, the color is incredible. There are 12-15 different species to choose from, but today we’re just looking at the weeping version.

Thumbnail of Weeping Larch in Spring

Super-soft green needles spiral around branches and look like flowers when emerging in spring.

Late summer for the Weeping Larch

Peeking over the side gate in late summer at the Weeping Larch, just before it begins changing color.

Fall color on Weeping Larch

In fall, needles turn gold, orange & brown before dropping. The small cones are very decorative, sitting erectly atop branches for winter interest. And this tree gets HUGE bonus points for being deer resistant too!!

Now that you are all hopped up on juicy photos of a gorgeous little tree that you NEED for your landscape, go forth and shop. Ask you local Independent Garden Center if they have this wonderful tree for you.

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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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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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2014 Fine Foliage LEAFY AWARD

2014 FF LEAFY AWARD
Team Fine Foliage is proud to present the first ever 2014 Fine Foliage LEAFY AWARD! Every year we will choose a plant to honor and profile for its extraordinary foliage. The criteria for the award will be:
1) The sheer, mind bending beauty of the leaves (of course this IS Fine Foliage after all!) 🙂
2) The usage and flexibility of the foliage in design.
3) Popularity and availability of the foliage nominated during the course of the year.
4) The number of votes each nomination receives. Each September, we will tally the votes for each nomination and make the announcement in October.

Since this is the first year for this award, we will get the leafy celebration started with a hands down, obvious winner for 2014 and then from here on out we will ask YOU to nominate YOUR favorites every month!

But first, we need to ask an important question of our fans. Is it possible for ONE exceptional plant to have leaves so amazing OR unremarkable that it could make or break a design?

We think so! If you think about it, using food as an example it makes SO much sense. When a fine chef creates a dish using only three ingredients, then one of those ingredients needs to be a superstar right? If it is pasta with peas and cheese for instance, then the chef may go to the farmer and choose this particular farmer where the peas are SO fresh and SO sweet that the chef may not need to add all kinds of other fancy elements to make an outstanding dish. It is the same with plants where we may go to a particular grower that brings the best of that particular plant to market that is a standout above ALL others.

Or when a decorator is furnishing a room and they need that singular piece of furniture that speaks to the exact esthetic that best meets the designers vision for the room. That is exactly the same idea as when we gardeners find that perfect foliage plant to be the focal point in a garden design. It stands out as an obviously fantastic piece, maybe not singularly unusual or unique, but RIGHT.

Sadly, the same is true for the reverse where a foliage element is just ho-hum and doesn’t add anything to elevate a combination. It’s just there, like an afterthought, a seemingly tasteless or bland bit of boring leaves that were not shown in the highest and best use. Even common, or “pedestrian” plants can be stunning when used creatively!

So from here on out, we want you to keep your eye on the leafy prize. Which plant stands out to you each season as having the potential to be THE ONE? Small or large, bold or quiet, soft or prickly, anything goes as long as it is a truly outstanding performer and readily available to MOST gardeners.

Now, on with the award! We present to you the 2014 winner of the Fine Foliage LEAFY AWARD.
The Japanese Maple!!

2104 Fine Foliage LEAFY AWARDThe sheer volume of marvelous Japanese maple choices is dizzying. There are options for a rainbow of colors, for sun and shade, for texture and structure for focal points and containers. They are available in nearly every corner in the country, though obviously they don’t do well quite everywhere, the VERY warm locations are not an option as these maples love a bit of cool respite.
To learn more about Japanese maples, here is a great article from Organic Gardening magazine that gives you a good outline about these incredibly elegant and hardy trees.

IMG_4646The Japanese maple lends itself so beautifully to elegant artistry in garden design, art and even poetry. Below is a poem about this magnificent tree that we think you will enjoy.

A Single Tree
by Avis McGriff Rasmussen

A vibrant vision
of timeless beauty
stands before me.

A single tree
the Japanese maple
thriving in fertile soil
artistically arrayed
in a brilliant mosaic
of crimson, gold and orange
a glorious sight to behold.

In spectacular harmony
the sculptured trunk
and curvaceous branches
reinforce its ancient appeal
while supporting its
foliage tapestry.

This bold display
of creation bursts forth
for a season—the fall
enticing the onlooker
to contemplate
its delicate cycle of life.

As you pass this way
stand with me
and be amazed by this
intricate work of natural art
designed for our daily pleasure.

Avis Rasmussen (BA, Speech Pathology, ’85; Paralegal Certificate, ’92) is co-owner of a land development company in Southern California and a writer. She is married with a 9-year-old son.

Now, for the best part of the award, we dangle a leafy prize in front of YOU as well to get your ideas flowing; the person whose nomination gets the MOST VOTES each year receives a signed copy of Fine Foliage and the recognition for their brilliant idea! So, get thinking for 2015. There are a tantalizing array of leafy options to choose from. Show us YOUR prized, brilliant choice of foliage nomination each month and show off your mad foliage design skills and ideas!

We look forward to hearing from all of you next month!

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Container Design with an Autumn Attitude

Can I make a confession here? I’m utterly tired of whiny, bellyaching autumn gardeners. There, I said it,  already I feel better! Why? Because the answer to MANY of the questions I regularly deal with this time of the year are from gardeners who believe that FLOWERS ought to be as abundantly available and at the forefront of seasonal container designs as they are in July.
Heauchera 'Berry Smoothie' with Zinnia 'Profusion Cherry'
Well, they aren’t. And they won’t be in the fall and winter, for the majority of the country, ever. Unless you are all right with the Chrysanthemums and Asters that bloom for such a short period of time. Those are fine for plants that you might switch out, but most of us don’t want that kind of work as it gets colder. The idea is that the flowers are now the seasonal accent for the next few months, not the main course.
Purple Aster with Carex BuchananiiFlower focused people will walk through the nursery and point-
Customer: “Can I use that one?”
Me: “No, that is a tropical, it will be dead in a week or two if left outside when it REALLY gets cold. How about this great plant? It has tons of texture and looks amazing with your container, plus you can re-use it somewhere else next year?”
Customer: “How about those, they are purple!” 
Me: “I wish! Unfortunately, that one is about done blooming right now. What if we come up with a color palette of amazing foliage that is bright and showy? We can even find purple for you!”

Don’t get me wrong, I adore flowers! It’s just that at THIS time of the year, the “shoulder season”, I am a little more realistic about what will last, have some great color and interest as well as be a good value. A pansy or viola will serve as a lovely accent flower and will also bloom for months in the cold, it is just not the centerpiece or focal point that will hold attention.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about!  Fall container combination focused on Foliage FIRST! OR how about THIS one?
A BOLD color combination for a fall and winter container design! See? I’m only asking for a minor revolution in thinking here. 😉 Try plants on that you might never have considered before for fall and winter interest. You might make an AMAZINGLY creative discovery!

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“Points of Distinction”- a video from Fine Foliage

Watch for an exciting contest coming soon from FINE FOLIAGE!

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Rhythm, Jazz and the Blues

When we are choosing what I like to call the backbone of the color palette in the garden, I  frequently remind my clients that they need to remember to keep a few colors in repetition throughout the entire landscape to visually hold it all together. In other words, you should be able to take a passing glance across a swath of landscape or even a small vignette and your eyes should be able to hit a similar color tone like a musical beat, in regular intervals. This creates a visual rhythm, it can be all kinds of foliage that brings the musicality together, but it can also be art and accessories too.

20140804-CS_IMG_4103

The ‘Lawson’s’ Cypress above is going to be spectacular in a few years as its columnar structure brings some much-needed verticality to the fat bushiness of the hydrangea’s.

I was brainstorming in the garden last night when I suddenly realized how somewhat subconsciously I had used the color blue into my foliage much more than I had really realized. I knew I had tied in the accessories, but although I adore blue foliage, I hadn’t really noticed until just then how prominent it was really becoming in my own landscape. So, I thought I would take you on a little tour of my own private “Blues and Jazz Club” here in the ‘burbs of Seattle. 😉

20140804-CS_IMG_4110

As we move across my tiny garden, you notice my accessories of a vivid turquoise blue. The umbrella and the obelisk for my container of jasmine are bright and happy even on a cloudy summer day!

20140804-CS_IMG_410520140804-CS_IMG_4106Then a small river of watery blues in tumbled glass takes your eye up to one of my beloved pedestal containers where a piece of art glass (by Barbara Sanderson of Glass Gardens NW) is part of the planted combination where blue is prominent. The chalky blue foliage of the Melianthus is striking!

20140804-CS_IMG_4112The lovely thing about blue foliage is that you can use it in shades and tones, just like greens. Some are more silvery and some lean towards more gray-green with just hints of blue.

How about the showy blue foliage of the Parahebe perfoliata with a strong purple back up singer?! (Glass flower by Glass Gardens NW)

How about the showy blue foliage of the Parahebe perfoliata with a strong purple back up singer?! (Glass flower by Glass Gardens NW)

20140804-CS_IMG_4108I think that gardeners really underestimate just how beautiful blueberries can be simply for the foliage! That blue-green foliage has so much personality. And when I can reap the berry-liscious rewards for having them so close to my back door, even better!

20140804-CS_IMG_4152The blue foliage and white margins of the Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’ are lovely with the lavender Agastache, the deep green of the pine and more of my glass collection. (Bee Preserver and glass float are from Glass Gardens NW).

Euphorbia 'Rigida' has been on my list to find forever, FINALLY I got it! That foliage hits lots of my happy little OCD buttons as a Virgo. As it gets older, you will see what I mean when I post more photos. But here against the backdrop of another wonderful blue foliage in the form of Hebe 'Quicksilver' they make a fine pairing of two blue textures.

Euphorbia ‘Rigida’ has been on my list to find forever, FINALLY I got it! That foliage hits lots of my happy little OCD buttons as a Virgo. As it gets older, you will see what I mean when I post more photos. But here against the backdrop of another wonderful blue foliage in the form of Hebe ‘Quicksilver’ they make a fine pairing of two blue textures.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Blue Surprise' sits among some golds, burgundy and greens as a lone blue standout.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Blue Surprise’ sits among some golds, burgundy and greens as a lone blue standout.

20140804-CS_IMG_4131I suppose it must stand to reason that I have been using blue conifers as a VERY consistent vertical design element without really considering that I was doing it. I was just picking what I loved, which is the big “do as I say, not as I do” moment for many of my clients, right?
This particular conifer is a favorite of BOTH Karen Chapman and myself as we both have a particular affinity for this ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’ false cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’). You can read more about Karen Chapman’s use of this plant here in her blog, Le Jardinet.

Even a little hint of steely, intense blue as with this Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia 'Blue Ice') are enough to draw a color combination together with other spaces in the garden.

Even a little hint of steely, intense blue as with this Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia ‘Blue Ice’) are enough to draw a color combination together with other spaces in the garden.

20140804-CS_IMG_4213Even outside my back gate, a little combination of plants that tolerate the abuse of being forgotten outside my regular view brings the blues in with an iridescent glazed pot and blue succulents.

20140804-CS_IMG_4229A new blue pine standard found a home here last week, so it sits in its temporary pot with a friendly and somewhat slow-growing Ginkgo shrub ‘Munchkin’ sitting above it make a cute little blue pairing.

20140804-CS_IMG_4196This concludes our tour of my own mini ‘House of Blues’. Who knows, next year maybe my color kick will be something completely “out of the blue”! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one. 😉

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Hot White Chic Style for Summer 2014

By now you might have noticed that I have a certain affinity for shade plants. Maybe it’s because I don’t have that much shade in my own yard to play in that it grabs my focus SO much. Maybe it is also because I love the challenge of finding new and different ways to bring light and airiness to dark places.

Spider Web Fatsia container in a shady nook.

Spider Web Fatsia container in a shady nook.

On a recent tour of gardens with 80 other garden bloggers in Portland Oregon, I noticed a hot trend among some of the designers that I took note of in particular. The use of this amazing new Fatsia ‘Spider Web’ or ‘Speckled Fatsia’. It brings a light bit of a tropical feeling to some darker corners. See the link for more details on this amazing and slightly rare plant.

'Yakushimanum' Rhododendron paired with the icy cool 'Spider Web' Fatsia.

‘Yakushimanum’ Rhododendron paired with the icy cool ‘Spider Web’ Fatsia brings a slightly masculine flair.

I was ceaselessly impressed by the drama these leaves could impart to almost any low-light location with the large palmate leaves and the elegant white Chanel-esque presence it brings to what could be a drab vignette.

A more feminine combination with the pink Lacecap Hydrangea.

A more feminine combination with the pink Lacecap Hydrangea.

If you live in a climate where you can’t grow this Fatsia outdoors, I’m told that it makes an exceptional houseplant. However you come to use this elegant and highly fashionable plant, it will serve you well and you just might become one of the many obsessed over designing with Fine Foliage in the shade.

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