Tag Archives: Hydrangea

Design Goals in the Garden for 2017

RHS Wisley 2016

RHS Wisley 2016

After looking over my photos of gardens that I visited in 2016 as well as my own, I am feeling the need to review some design choices I have made in the last few years. When you’re inside on a 25-degree day in Seattle, sunny though it may be, there’s no better time to start thinking ahead. The garden show season, garden tours and nursery hopping will be upon all of us hort-nerds soon enough and I want to have at least a minor plan of attack.

Maybe you need more bold colors of foliage in your spring and summer garden like the energetic heuchera above that provides a wonderful color echo to the elegant Japanese maple in the background.

Color echo with Hydrangea and Japanese maple

Or for the late summer and early fall, maybe you need to consider the color echo that this incredible hydrangea and maple duo bring in deep plum tones!

Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Chelsea Flower Show 2016

OR if you are a flower person in your heart of hearts but you are here with Team Fine Foliage because you need a leafy nudge to balance your impulses, then maybe adding more repetition is in order. The floriferous notes in any garden stand out better when you pick one color and texture in a foliage plant and use it to its fullest with repetition. This could just as easily have been boxwood and have a very traditional look, but the use of the silver foliage of this Senecio is much more interesting!

Paperbark maple

Paperbark maple

Maybe you are craving more interesting details in your landscape such as fascinating bark, berries, rock or art. Well, Team Fine Foliage certainly will have you covered there for 2017 when “Gardening with Foliage First” becomes available SOON!!! 

A sumptuous feast of fall color here!

A sumptuous feast of fall color here!

Our tendency as trapped winter garden designers is to load up the landscape with all things spring when we’re first let out of the house and released into the wilds of the garden center. But, it’s so important to make sure that you’re also thinking about the important and colorful transformation of color that happens in late summer and early fall. So, keep that in mind when you’re planning!

Foliage BONANZA! :-)

Foliage BONANZA! 🙂

Here is a snippet from one of my favorite little sections in my own garden that I am considering revamping a tad this year. I welcome your thoughts about what you might do. It’s jammed packed I know, but that my style and that likely won’t change, but other than that, bring it on. Give me some ideas designers! 

Let us know what YOUR leafy goals are for your landscape in 2017. Post a comment, we would love to hear from all of you in this upcoming and exciting year of the “Foliage First” garden! 

 

BIG Blue Foliage

While out watering my garden the other evening, I was STRUCK by how handsome this Lawson’s blue cypress is in particular at this time of the year when paired with the summer pink blooms on my ‘Quickfire’ Hydrangeas that snuggle closely to it right at my back gate. This bold blue color has SO much personality!
Lawson's Blue CypressThat’s not to say that I haven’t written about this combo at other times of the year too, such as in fall when the hydrangea foliage has a lovely golden glow against the blue, or in spring when the hydrangea blooms are creamy white and pristine. It’s just that right now- that pink and blue combo is dee-lightfully summery and more feminine than I typically favor. If you saw the BOLD orange container combo directly in front of this scene, you would know that I’m typically not someone who does “dainty”. 🙂

This got me thinking about other blue foliage that may not necessarily always be large in stature but are sure filled with BIG personality. So off we go exploring a few…..

Honeybush, Melianthus majorHoney Bush or Melianthus major is a tropical with a ton of BIG personality all right! Whether it’s an annual or a reliable perennial where you live, brush by it and you won’t forget its Peanut Butter scent. If it reaches its full-sized potential of 6-8 ft tall and wide or even wider then it’s REALLY happy, and you will be rewarded with deep red flower spikes. The foliage looks as if someone cut it with fancy edged scissors and it looks just as beautiful when droplets of water or dew balance on the leaves like few other plants.

Blue Chalk Fingers, #SucculentsBlue Chalk Fingers or Serpents Fingers Senecio vitalis ‘Serpents‘, talk about a name for a small plant with BIG personality! If you love succulents, whether this one is an annual or a year round evergreen for you, this is one that you need to play with at some point in your gardening life. THAT blue is just so, well….BLUE!!!

Dianthus I just want you to imagine this scene above without that showy ribbon of BLUE Dianthus foliage running through the middle of this display. See? The blue makes the violet shades even MORE violet!

Hosta 'Blue Angel' Not to be outdone on any level, the sheer size and voluptuous nature of this giant hosta ‘Blue Angel’ is a sheer spectacle of blue foliage with BIG personality all right! This photo really does not do justice to show the scale and size of these giant leaves at roughly 12″ across. A heavy bloomer, hummingbird favorite and less favorable to slugs, this easy perennial pairs well with all kind of flowers and shrubs. Wink wink, nudge nudge….look for this one to appear in Gardening with Foliage First due out in 2017!

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Understated Elegance with Fine Foliage

20160610-CS_IMG_4333After shooting a LOT of garden photos in the last few weeks I have been editing more than normal too. I have a process where I glance through a whole file and without over analyzing any one thing too much, I quickly flag the shots that “speak to me”. It’s that gut reaction you get quickly that tends to be very reliable about which ones to go back and spend time on or ditch them now and move on.

To that end, I originally passed this one over when I was on my elimination frenzy and I’m so glad that I came back to give it a second glance. Then, the more I kept looking at it the more I loved it. The photo itself is all right, THIS is about the design lesson.

If you even half pay attention to this blog or my other social media posts, then you likely know my style is most decidedly NOT quiet, demure or conservative, but this one speaks to me. I got back from photographing and touring gardens in England for ten days recently (more to come on that exciting adventure!) so maybe the quieter garden style there has rubbed off on me a little. Not there that weren’t dizzying displays of “WHOA….” at times, the focus is just different there.

The interesting thing is that I took this photo at the VERY colorful Bellevue Botanical Garden last weekend and I must have passed this combination hundreds of times over the years and up until now noticed parts of this vignette, but not the “full picture”. Maybe this is maturity in my garden design evolution talking, or maybe it’s just another layer of awareness that comes with experience about what I’m viewing.

The centerpiece of this photo is the Red Tussock grass (Chionochloa rubra) is a New Zealand native hardy in zones 7-10, grows 3-5ft tall and wide in a clump that features gracefully arching blades that move with the breeze in color tones that can range from sparkling tan to coppery red. Feminine white Japanese iris stands up on the left, almost waving the white flag to get your attention and lovely though they are, I’m still not quite enamored enough to draw my eye away from that grass. Then on the right, you just can’t deny that the lime green juvenile flowers of the snow white hydrangea ‘Incrediball’ are harmonic color perfection with the golden tan grass.

Now take all three together and sigh…..it’s the recipe that works! You might have three ingredients for a dish that you can’t fathom coming together and yet it does. The flavor profile is subtle, refined and utterly elegant. I don’t feel the need to douse it in Sriracha sauce to make it spicy and grab my attention. In fact, a little tea with milk, a biscuit and that may be all is needed here to make me happy. Oh and that boxwood down front with its deep green….

Holy cow! This British co-author and that trip have gotten to me…. Shhhhhhhh…… 🙂

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The Power of PURPLE in Fall Foliage

Color theory and all of the fascinating things that go along with it have been a rather passionate research topic for me since I wrote a term paper about it in college. It touches nearly every avenue of our lives and recently, I had an interesting thing happen that relates to both foliage AND shopping for fall clothes. Who knew we could connect those two things so easily? Well, buckle up foliage fans, here we go!
Color ChipsI bought a few new long-sleeved t-shirts for the impending cold weather to add to my arsenal of fall layering for garden work last week. Olive was my first choice, then a vibrant shade of purple. When many of us think purple, particularly in gardening and plant description color terms, purple can range from almost burgundy all the way to true blue depending on a whole host of details that we won’t get into here, just suffice it to say that MY purple was PURPLE. As in royal purple, ‘Prince’ purple, grape colored marker purple, electric purple!

THIS is MY kind of purple for #Fall!!

THIS is MY kind of purple for #Fall!!

When I pulled the new purple t-shirt out of my stash and wore it the first time, within an hour, three people commented how much they not only LOVED the color, but that they ALL felt that it was a very under-rated color for fall. The very same thing happened at the next place I went and pretty much continued all day. Hmmmm….. I’m sensing a theme here.

Why YOU need more PURPLE in your Fall Palette
It’s true- purple is not commonly a focal point color in the fall, not to mention in the garden, when all of reds, oranges and yellows are getting all of the attention with the fall foliage watchers. But, if you think about it, purple is the connector color on the color wheel. It makes friends with ALL of the FALL colors.

Spectacular purple/plum hydrangea bloom in #fall with a golden backdrop
This fall hydrangea bloom is a deep shade of purple/plum, but I think you get the idea here. The golden backdrop of foliage is THE happy marriage of fall foliage to bloom color. Team Fine Foliage wants you to be thinking about this idea in spring when you get let out of the house in a garden frenzy and all you can think about in spring at the garden center is spring anything. 🙂

VIBRANT purple from the gorgeous 'Beautyberry' shrub.

VIBRANT purple from the gorgeous ‘Beautyberry’ shrub.

The all out electric purple berries only seen in autumn when this Beautyberry’s foliage begins to turn slightly golden and eventually drops is when this plant shines. Now, against a luscious red backdrop of ‘Rose Glow’ Barberry (not invasive in our mild Northwest climate, but can be in others) and a Variegated Eleagnus shrub make this a trio perfectly suited to show exactly what BOLD fall color can mean!

Purple 'Redbor' Kale and Ornamental Peppers in a #purple containerEven a smoky purple pot can be royally opulent in autumn. ‘Redbor’ Kale and Ornamental Peppers that turn from deep purple/black to red are standouts for fall color against the copper container with all of it’s golden highlights in the background.

#Fall container combo in full purple glory! We are incredibly fortunate that in our mellow winter climate of the Northwest, we can have the entire rainbow of Coral Bells (Heuchera) at our fingertips all year round and fall is part of the when they can truly shine best! However, there are MANY fabulous forms of Coral Bells in a wide range of colors for cold climates too.
This one is ‘Autumn Splendor’ Heuchera and I would say it’s perfectly named all right. Paired here in this russet color little container, that purple takes center stage. Also in the pot; the sweetest little shrub Honeysuckle called ‘Twiggy’ turns from a lovely chartreuse gold to a flush of pink/rose when the cold weather comes on. A quart size Leucothoe ‘Rainbow’ shrub does the same, it will gain more burgundy/plum tones as it gets colder, but the creamy white sure shines here. And lastly, the grass is a Dwarf Little Blue-Stem called Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Prairie Munchkin’ (say that one three time fast!). Another amazing perennial plant that shows off SO much personality by changing color in fall to the blues and purples.

Lime with #PURPLE make this Kale a standout! Citrusy lime can look great in a fall container too, even contemporary and unique! Adding a simple shot of bold violet and purple kale makes this combo chic! Mexican Orange ‘Sundance’, ‘Wilma Goldcrest’ Cypress, Coprosma ‘Tequila Sunrise’, Heucherella ‘Stoplight’, the blue foliage of Mahonia ‘Charity’ and Hebe ‘Quicksilver’ round out this unusual color combination, not to mention a few viola’s for good measure.

#Purple for #Fall color adds drama and one thing that Fine Foliage is not short on is DRAMA. Go and add some sassy purple to your garden for next year and think about all of the ways you can pair it up with your favorite fiery fall tones.  🙂

What bold and dramatic purple are YOU seeing out there in your world this fall?

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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.

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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. 😉

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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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