Tag Archives: Molinia

September Survey of Foliage

September is when I begin to think about the waning flowers and seasonal summer foliage and how I will feel when there is no luscious coleus about to accent and highlight seasonal summer foliage on shrubs, perennials and other annuals.

Coleus and MelianthusThe coleus is hanging in there for a while, but the nurseries however are clearing quickly, the sales abound, so NOW is the time to take stock and survey what you have vs. what you want for next year. The sooner you get those pieces that I call “furniture” in the garden for the cold season interest, the better off they will be come spring.

Coleus and Hypericum 'Ignite Scarlet'

Coleus

Coleus and Euphorbia 'Silver Swan'

"Under the Sea" Coleus, Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie', 'Blue Star' Juniper

"Under the Sea" Coleus, Heuchera 'Lime Rickey'
So, I plot and plan my next steps. Envisioning my nose stuck against the glass in the colder months with a hot cup of coffee in hand, I think about how I will enjoy the finer details of the late season fall and winter foliage that remains while plotting and planning at that time what I will do in spring.

Coleus and Euphorbia 'Silver Swan' What’s going to hold up in the cold and look interesting mixed with my spring and summer favorites AND have some showy FOLIAGE? Luckily, here in our mild, “Plant Mecca” climate, I have many choices. The front yard has the deer and bunnies, but the back is fully fenced and I can get more “experimental” there without losing my wallet in the process.

We won’t have the louder, showy options we have in spring and summer of course, because the cold time of the year is about more of the quiet details, more subdued colors and textural details that we admire from a closer view.

Blueberry 'Sunshine Blue' and Abelia 'Kaleidascope'
That’s not to say that we can’t have HUGE amounts of personality this time of the year! I LOVE the Blueberry foliage with Abelia ‘Kaleidascope’. With a late season grass like Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ or Pennisetum a. ‘Burgundy Bunny’ this combo could be outstanding!

Variegated Boxwood with unknown ChamaecyperisHave a yen for light and airy? The light of this variegated boxwood and chamaecyperis (unknown) together are a fine winter pairing. What would YOU add as another accent here? Possibly another dramatic grass? How about Japanese Blood grass for a shock of red for autumn?

Variegated PierisSpeaking of light and airy- how about one of my go-to must have favorites to design with plants? The Variegated Pieris is elegant, showy and the epitome of seasonal. I also have a passion for it’s cousins ‘Flaming Silver’ and ‘Little Heath’. EPIC plants for designing a garden that needs to drop a few visual pounds and lighten up.

'Little Rascal' Holly, Eupatorium 'Chocolate', Carex tesacea and Melianthus
This rich and subtle combination of ‘Little Rascal’ Holly, Orange Sedge, ‘Chocolate’ Eupatorium and Melianthus are a textural dream for the late season. That carex will get more orange, and the holly will get a bit more black just in time for Halloween! 😉

Ilex c. 'Drops of Gold', 'Redbor' Kale, Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie' I know some designers consider it rather “pedestrian”, but I adore the tall purple ‘Redbor’ Kale for it’s fall and winter richness. And when it is paired with the berry-liscious Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’ and Ilex c. ‘Drops of Gold’- stand back!

Osmanthus 'Goshiki' and Miscanthus s. 'Morning Light'
Osmanthus 'Goshiki' Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ is also a favorite for it’s hardiness, slow growth, foliage color and personality. I frequently get clients and customers who wince at the thought of a plant like this and say “Oh no, no prickly plants in my garden!” Then I stick two hands in it and show them it doesn’t bite! Then I say, “Well, if you’re huggin it, you’re doing it wrong.” This plant is SO worth it for the seasonality!

Silver Hellebore and Spruce
Speaking of prickly but worth it! This silver Hellebore is simply striking against the backdrop of this old spruce in the background. Both with a lovely blue-green coloration they each have equally distinct and separate charisma. These two happen to be front and center on a patio, smashing in winter!

Bergenia, Molinia and HelleboreThis Bergenia is nothing fancy in the way of a cutting edge plant, BUT when paired with this Molinia and bed of Hellebore in the background, it is a fall and winter masterpiece of design! So simple, yet effective.

Miscanthus and red Japanese Maple
The subtle coloration of this Miscanthus blooms may have been lost if it were not for the backdrop of the red Japanese Maple in the background.

Euphorbia 'Silver Swan', Hebe 'Quicksilver', 'Tri-Color' Sage, Heuchera 'Green Spice'
I am forever attracted to monochromatic color schemes. I’m not quite sure why the sophistication of it appeals to me SO much! I think the interplay of layering one tone can have so many distinct identities within a small display and depending on the plant combinations, can be changed up to be more powerful or more indirect. For fall and winter though, I think that the cold brings out the drama in these kind of displays.

So, what am I wistful for in next years garden? I “think” I may take out a Ninebark to make way for one of these: Cotinus 'Young Lady' This Smokebush or Cotinus ‘Young Lady’ has captured my heart. Though I think I may hold out for one called ‘Grace’ for her utterly stunning fall foliage in a bright, rich, coral and tealy, blue-green leaves in summer.

How about you? Are you planning your next foliage focus for fall and winter yet?

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The Bold and the Blissful

Gardens that are fortunate to have shade or part sun, have design options for special effects with foliage colors and textures that the full sun gardens envy. It’s imperative to take notice of the high contrast details from every angle, they’re worth ogling!

This series of photos illustrates some combinations of plants where the bold leaves in all of their drama, meets the delicate, lacy, strappy, exquisite tendrils, fronds, and froth of smaller foliage. Some of the photos are simply pointing out foliage details that ought to be noted!
Slide1Gold variegated Yucca on the left and a white variegated Daylily both rise boldly from the fluff of Ajuga flowers in spring.
Slide2Hosta is a never ending source of options for combinations of both striking and delicate in a small area. Small space gardeners rejoice! On the left, this clean white variegated Hosta is paired with fragrant Sarcococca humulis. On the right is a blue and gold painted Hosta with a fluffy chartreuse fern. Both design companions highlight each plants strength beautifully.

Slide3The old-fashioned lace of this fern, Athyrium n. ‘Ghost’ unfurling in front of the seersucker texture of the Hosta in the background is pure composition bliss.

Slide4Keeping the color palette bright and yet subtle make it impossible to ignore the fine filigree details of the Fern against the Hosta.

Slide5A subtle circle of Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium n. ‘Pictum’) is mesmerizing with its variety of color and textures.

Slide6The Cobra heads on these emerging fern fronds were enough of a detail to stop me in my tracks!

Slide7Variegated Lily of the Valley is the dramatic broad-leaved companion downstage from the tousle of red and bronze foliage of the Astilbe.

Slide8Prominent and pronounced leaves of the Rheum or Ornamental Rhubarb stand tall and proud in the border with machismo. If you bend down and look at the undersides of the foliage on a bright day, you can see through the light bronze and enjoy the more feminine, cinnamon and mauve-pink coloration from underneath.

Slide9The delicate, almost crochet looking leaves of green are in their own contrasting striped jail of golden variegated Iris foliage budding up for spring.

Slide10This Rodgersia may have the texture of Elephant skin but certainly not the color! Milk chocolate foliage is a delicious contrast to the smooth as lemon chiffon pie yellow of the Carex in the background.

Slide12Kirengeshoma palmata or Yellow wax-bells is a late season bloomer with soft butter cream-colored flowers. But, until August, we will need to be thrilled with this fine-cut silvery foliage.

Slide13Bergenia and Hellebore are done blooming and now they become a sturdy green backdrop for the soft grassy texture of Molinia c. Variegata or Variegated Moore Grass.

Slide11This Box Honeysuckle, Lonicera n. ‘Twiggy’ is the perfect golden compliment to the broad-leaved, fresh green foliage surrounding it.

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