Sunday, June 29, 2008

Garden Greens

Not much in the way of combinations to wow you, or technologically-advanced slide shows, this is a random pick of some of my favorite foliage in our shade/part-sun garden. Some I took the time to name, some are just pictures. Many, most, or all you may recognize.

Shirl, of Shirl's Gardenwatch, was getting the word out on a great idea, when I read her post encouraging garden bloggers to participate in a garden-bloggers foliage event. It seems Emma Townshend at A Nice Green Leaf has invited us to, on June 30th, "put up pictures of your best foliage combinations, wow us with your giantest leaf, or delight us with a technologically advanced slideshow showing the general verdancy of your plot. . ."

Here's my contribution to what I think is a fabulous idea. Foliage is king in our garden.
Silver maples - three mature ones assure a dry, mostly-shady gardening environment under their canopies. Silver maples are messy trees and they drop tons of helicopters that sprout baby maple trees everywhere. I dislike silver maples, but I wouldn't trade their cool shade and the birds that perch and nest in them. I've been learning to cooperate with these large, mature trees and their shallow roots for the past four years. This is a young garden, growing slowly in it's challenging environment. Foliage texture, color, and shape rather than flowers, are the primary players in this garden. These are some of my favorites.

heuchera 'caramel'

ivy in a hanging basket

dill, cilantro, green and purple basil, and parsley started in an Aerogarden and transplanted into a container.

elephant ear - the largest leaf in our garden by far.

celandine poppy



one of the mystery hostas

Viburnums have such a wide variety of leaf colors and shapes.


Rozanne, object of my affection

variagated angel's trumpet. huge leaves, graceful form, beautiful whether blooming or not. After the green elephant ears, this angel's trumpet has the 2nd largest leaves in my shady garden. At present, this is my favorite plant. I have a cutting from it as well, shorter, but with foliage as large and beautiful. And a sucker, but that one's plain green. Big leaves though, so far. There's a story to tell of my introduction to angel's trumpet - devil's trumpet as well. I'll get to that sometime. Oh, did I mention, I love this plant! Mother and children survived over the winter under my nifty sodium grow light, and have taken off since coming outside and being placed in the oh-so-calculatingly carefully determined officially most sunny spots in our garden. So far no buds. I'll keep you posted.


  1. Anonymous6:01 PM

    The elephants ears in my small pond has grown IMMENSELY! It is so big it keeps falling over and today I resorted to tying the leaves! I love foliage. To me it is better than flowers; for the texture and interest. Your textures are beautiful, and your gardens as well.

  2. Beautiful leaves. I pick plants for their leaves too, since flowers aren't always present. I'm getting more and more every day!

  3. Wonderful grouping of greens!

  4. What a great combination of green leaves. I guess we didn't realize how much we depend on them for the contrat to the flowers until this post idea. I never once thought about trees. I'm embarrased that I didn't think to look up.

    You commented on my blog about lemon balm. I'm glad you were inspired to buy some. You'll love it but it can go wild and even jump out of the pot. Keep an eye out for it.

  5. Always amazing ... there are no 2 shades of green alike! Lovely post.

  6. I love elephant ears and yours are awesome! I don't know why I don't have any of those in my garden. Are there any that are sun tolerant that you know of?

  7. Holy Cow, girl...that is a lot of leaves...LOL

    I do have some wonderful leaves and foliage when I think about. At first, I didn't think so and then you inspired me. I have Mulberry leaves which are just goergeous..banana trees,,elephant ears, bamboo,,,I think I can make a small slide show (it takes no knowledge at all to do this, trust me) and I still think watermelon vines and cantaloupe have pretty foliage. Do veggie leaves count as foliage?

  8. Your 'greens' were beautiful, but oh... those photos with the birds were fantastic!

  9. Linda,

    Wonderful leaves to add to the mix.
    Isn't it amazing how much fun you can have with a bit of green!


  10. Lovely greens! Hostas and caladiums have always been two of my favorites, but the heucheras are catching up--your Caramel really catches the eye.
    Love the photo of the bird on the birdbath!

  11. Brenda, it's a really great plant, isn't it!

    Thank you!

    Cinj, picking plants with their foliage in mind is something I've become much more aware of now that I garden primarily in the shade. I didn't think much about the foliage in my sunny borders at past residences. Instead I focused on succession of bloom and made sure there were plenty of blooming things all the time. It sure is different in the shade!

    Thank you Chey!

    Jane Marie, wasn't it great idea! I only thought of the trees since they're the reason for the shade garden, and because I liked the bird shots!

    Joey, didn't Emma have a great idea! Doing this post made me really look at the foliage and appreciate it even more for it's own sake in spite of the lack of blooms here most of the time.

    Gina, the owner of the nursery where I work has a gigantic one in full sun on her patio. It grows much faster than mine does in mostly shade, has more leaves and the leaves are bigger. They do need a lot of water, especially in the sun. We both have Alocasia macrorrhiza, 'Upright Elephant Ear' from Proven Winners. The tag says it's hardy in zones 7-11, and needs full sun to partial shade. I think this one would grow beautifully for you in full sun.

    Eve, I think any and all foliage counts, even veggies. Didn't Emma have a great idea?

    Beckie, sometimes the birds are the only 'blooms' in my garden!

    Gail, thanks! It is amazing how much fun one can have with a bunch of green. Good thing, since green is the only constant in a perennial garden, especially one that's shady.

    Rose, after Geranium 'Rozanne,' the heucheras are quickly becoming my favorites. Hostas are great too. Too bad caladiums aren't hardy. I tried overwintering mine last year, but those aren't nearly as grand as they were last year so I bought more. I love the variety of leaf colors and patterns in caladiums.

    It's fun watching the birds at the birdbath, especially when they're arguing over whose turn it is!

  12. Anonymous10:46 AM

    this is so stunning. What a lesson in how to appreciate what you've got. I love the maple leaves, but I can see they might be a bit troublesome with all the seeding... but what wonderful things you're growing underneath! PS so many posts are causing me to rethink my bad attitude towards Heuchera - your picture is another convincing argument for me to change my mind!

  13. Anonymous11:00 AM

    When looking at your caladiums, I made a mental note to try some next year. They wouldn't last past the summer, but they would add great foliage patterns.

  14. I really like the picture of the Robin with the green background! Wow, a lot of green there...

  15. Anonymous1:45 PM

    I like the heuchera 'caramel' - I am very fond of huchera and this is a lovely colour.
    Nice green leaves
    An Artist's Garden

  16. Emma, thank you so much for your fabulous idea! I have a new appreciation for the greens. That's a very good thing, since in a shade garden greens are sometimes all you've got!

    Since starting this garden four years ago, I've come to realize how important foliage is, especially in a shade garden. I really enjoy all the 'fancy' foliage, and am continually looking for more of it.

    But I've come away from this experience with a whole new appreciation for the 'ordinary' greens in the garden, and will look at them with new eyes forever after this.

    Heucheras are really wonderful plants! The older varieties tend to have showier flower spikes, with their 'ordinary' foliage. But some of the new ones. . . oh my goodness, what they add to a shade garden! They are right up there with my favorite must-have plants. Purple and nearly-black varieties like Sparkling Burgundy and Obsidian, the lime greens like Lime Rickey, the yellow-and-reds like stoplight, the heavily variegated variegated purples-and-silvers like Guardian Angel . . . oh my, I could go on all day about them. Their foliage color changes as the seasons progress, and many of them are evergreen. Lime Rickey poking its chartreuse foliage out of the snow is a sight indeed! I can't imagine being without these great plants and all their colorful foliage in my shade garden, and I'm sure I'll be adding more.

    Thanks again for the great idea! It would be fun to do it again, or even on a regular basis.

    Northern Shade, I highly-recommend caladiums! You can purchase the corms and start them inside much less expensively than buying the plants. This year I did a combination of starting my own and buying them all leafed out already.

    Skeeter, The bird pictures are my favorites. I really enjoy watching the wildlife here - birds, bats, butterflies, dragonflies, toads, squirrels, bunnies, even an occasional coyote.

    I see you like Elephant Ears too!

    Karen, I love the color variations heucheras add to the shade garden. They make things much more interesting around here!

    Thank you!

  17. Is that a lupine leaf (the 5th photo)? Love all the foliage shots!
    ~ Monica

  18. Great foliage post. I love elephant ears also, and overwinter them in our crawlspace.

  19. Anonymous2:10 PM

    They look so fresh and relaxing. I'll be adding more green in the coming weeks. Love the Heuchera leaves the best. There are so many to choose from.

  20. Monica, that's a good question! Last year DH planted a wildflower seed mix in a couple of containers. I left the containers in the garden over the winter, and these and coneflowers came back.

    They initially looked like sweet woodruff when they came back early this spring. I thought 'Cool! I know just where to plant them.' But as they've grown I've realized they're not sweet woodruff, but probably lupines. The taproots I saw when I transplanted them into the garden should have tipped me off that they weren't sweet woodruff. I've had trouble growing lupines in the past. It'll be interesting to see if these survive another winter and bloom next year.

  21. Kim and Victoria, Thank you! I love elephant ears. It's great to have a spot to overwinter them - they get better every year. I saw them used in an artisan cheese factory as part of the waste water treatment - they restore the water to pristine before returning it to the local creek through the use of holding tanks with several different natural water-cleaning agents such as water-loving plants that act as filters and different kinds of bacteria that eat the waste. (It was very cool!)

    Anna, I've really come to love having all this shade garden - it is very relaxing. And so cool. It's usually at least 10 degrees cooler in our backyard than it is in front. And I really think all the green makes it feel even cooler still. It's so calming and peaceful back there.

    Heucheras are such great plants. There are new ones all the time. I'd like to try that burgundy one with pink speckles.

  22. Linda: what fun this meme was and when I scroll down and only see foliage it is just a pretty as seeing blooms to me. All your choices are soothing and I just enjoy so much the difference in what you have growing and what I have growing. Except for the caladiums which are a staple for me here. We leave them in the ground all year long. Have a great night!

  23. Hi - thanks for your lovely patio comment. I'm glad you enjoyed Emma's leaf meme. I'm a fan of heucheras too - though that caramel shade looks totally different over here to yours. It looks much prettier on your side of the pond!

  24. VP, your patio is stunning - really beautiful. I love all the stonework, and the 'old' look. Your patio looks like it could have been there for a hundred years - truly classic.

    I think the color on heucheras can really vary depending upon how much sunlight they get. Temperatures may be a factor too. I have both caramel and creme brulee', (they look exactly the same to me.) They were more 'caramel' colored when I brought them home from the nursery (dolce creme brulee' last year, caramel this year,) but they were getting more sun at the nursery than they get here. Here I notice not only how much sunlight they get, but also temperatures affect the coloring on some of the heucheras. Their colors also vary with leaf maturity. The variations in color during the seasons is another thing I really like about them. I really love the ones that are evergreen (or everburgundy, or evergold, etc.!)

  25. I also think that 8-leaved thing might be a Lupin. That would be so neat if you could grow them. You have posted photos of so many great leaves, but I think the variegated Angel's Trumpet is my favorite too.

  26. What a beautiful array of leaves, wonderful choices to put together, you must have a large area to work with.


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