I plant the plants; God gives the light.
Late afternoon, when sunbeams wash over the foliage, is the best time in my garden. Sometimes I can capture the ethereal atmosphere on camera. I took the following photos just as I stepped out of my kitchen door. Individual plants aren't recognized so much as the impressionistic colors.
Colorful foliage is an important part of my landscape, especially now as summer arrives and spring blooms recede. Yes, I know, according to the calendar it is still officially spring, but when the temps climb into the nineties as they have done this week, I call it summer! Here in Alabama, green predominates through the hot months. Even the interior of my house has a green tint, from the verdant hues reflected through the windows. But green doesn't have to be boring! I know we want to ignore the garden and hunker inside our air conditioned buildings, but with some planning the exterior can be refreshingly beautiful enough to tempt us outdoors.
A shady woodland garden is a pleasant retreat from the hot sun. There are multiple layers to this garden. I am blessed with mature oaks, hickory trees, and pines. Beneath these tall trees is an understory of dogwoods, redbuds, and Japanese maples. Closer to the ground are many shrubs with various textures and colors. Then there are ground covers, perennials, and lush moss paths to cover the forest floor.
I am a tactile person. I like to touch stuff. In my garden are many textures, from pitted stone, hard concrete, rough wood, to soft moss, slick leaves and fuzzy foliage. I have added a few accents, such as the snail pot, for additional interest. The pot is made from a heavy, frost proof clay. I love the heft and smooth feel of it.
Foliage combinations create character and encourage curiosity in the garden. Leaves have various shapes and colors. Some evergreens are not really green but are yellow or blue.Other plants are variegated. They may have spots or stripes. Leaves can be purple, red, white, silver, or a mixture of all the above. Green itself comes in a wide range of hues.
Gardening is three dimensional painting, and the canvas is the earth. Colors and textures can contrast or complement. They should repeat in different degrees throughout the garden to provide unity. Don't be afraid to try something different. The colorful pink, white, and blue-green plant in the second row below is in a pot buried in the ground. I sited it to amplify the rosy stems of the adjacent hydrangea 'Lady in Red' and also to repeat the silvery blue color of nearby artemesia. It is a tropical plant that won't survive the winter, so I will move it indoors when the weather turns cold.
All of this together creates visual appeal. Despite the summer heat and my emphasis on foliage, I do have flowers! I have many flowering shrubs and trees which bloom at different times of the year. This is definitely the easiest way to have flowers throughout the seasons.
Soon gardenias will fill the woodlands with their glorious fragrance. And when the deepest, darkest, greenest part of the summer arrives, I will sit pots of annuals here and there. I also am not above cheating. I confess, RARELY, I have stuck artificial flowers in pots and put them in the garden!
There is just no excuse for having a boring garden.
Follow-up: Thanks goes to Rosie of Leaves N Bloom, who identified my tropical plant as Stromanthe sanguinea 'Tristar'.