Tag Archives: monochromatic

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 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! ūüėČ

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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Cinnamon Spice

IMG_0636Some foliage looks so good you could almost eat it! Well here’s a lick-ilicious combination for you that is easy to try in a large¬†container¬†or your garden.

The inspiration for this scrumptious color scheme came from the cinnamon colored indumentum on the new growth and stems of this Rhododendron ‘Teddy Bear’. This fuzzy coating has a suede-like feel and serves to help protect the plant from moisture loss.¬†Interestingly¬†it has also been¬†reported¬†that many Rhododendron with indumentum are less¬†susceptible¬†to vine weevil attack.

Pairing this with Heuchera ‘Creme Brulee’ was an obvious choice since its foliage was the perfect shade ¬†to draw attention to this special feature of the¬†Rhododendron. The dark green,¬†glossy, mature foliage of the shrub adds¬†necessary¬†contrast and depth; without it we’d just have a cinnamon slushy.

The finely textured grass seen peeking here is orange hair sedge (Carex testacea). It’s wispiness lightens and softens the plant palette while keeping with the monochromatic color scheme.

IMG_0447To develop this grouping further you could add autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) shown above. The new growth has wonderful coppery tones and the different leaf shape adds interest.

This combination began life as a container planting for a client. I loved it so  much that I repeated it in my own garden! Remember that you can always transplant your container plants to the landscape when they outgrow their allotted space too. Containers are a great way to experiment with new plants and color schemes before you splurge on an entire border makeover.

Plant details

Rhododendron¬†‘Teddy Bear’ – compact and dense growth to 4′ x 4′. White¬†flowers¬†flushed with pale pink¬†in June. Outstanding plant! ¬†Zones 5b-8b

Heuchera ‘Creme Brulee’ – 16″ x 16″ evergreen perennial with spires of white¬†flowers¬†in spring that hummingbirds love. Zones 4-9. (‘Southern Comfort’ has a similar color and may be better for hotter climates).

Orange hair sedge (Carex testacea) – olive green stems, tipped with orange. This¬†evergreen¬†grass grows to 2′ tall¬†and¬†18″ wide as a soft fountain. Zones 7-10

Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) – my favorite fern. This vase-shaped,evergreen beauty ¬†benefits from trimming in spring as the fresh foliage appears. To 3′ x 3′. Zones 5-9

All plants do well in part shade with average, well drained soil.

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