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The Beauty is in the Details

This is a view toward my front garden, taken near the side walk by the patio:

I enjoy such views immensely, but when I am strolling through a garden, sometimes the greatest pleasure comes from examining plants close up, often discovering delightful, unexpected details.

For example, at Aldridge Gardens in Hoover, there is a flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, near the entrance. Ho-hum. There are lots of dogwoods. No point in giving this one more than a glance. 

No, stop! Look close! This one is different, a rare double flowering one, 'Pluribracteata':

I wonder how many visitors walked past this tree and never saw the unusual blooms?

In my own garden there are several varieties of Cornus florida. I love this pink flowering one:

My favorite dogwood has to be Cherokee Sunset, with red blooms and fabulous variegated foliage:

I have never seen a variegated plant I didn't love. When a plant has beautiful foliage, it doesn't need flowers to impress me! Here is a sampling of some of the variegated plants in my garden:Top row: Caladium 'Candyland'; Variegated fig. 2nd row: Two types of toad lilies. While waiting for flowers enjoy the foliage! Tricyrtis affinis 'Lunar Landing' and Tricyrtis hirta 'Variegata'. 3rd row: Variegated Jacobs Ladder; Pieris japonica. 4th row: Unlabeled plant, but I think it is a Dracaena, also called Corn Plant; Silver lace fern, Pteris ensiformis.

Variegated Weigela is a plant with both variegated foliage and flowers. Sweet as candy!

I have lost count of the Japanese maples in my garden. The number has risen above 15, I know. Here are a handful. Examining the leaves, I fall in love all over again.Clockwise from top left: 'Butterfly'; unnamed tree that grew from seedling; 'Viridis'; 'Sango-Kaku'

Ferns are always worth a close look for interesting details:Clocwise from top left: Birds Nest Fern; Japanese Painted Fern; Holly Fern - note the spores; Lady Fern

Despite my love of foliage, I don't want to overlook the flowers. Here are a few worth a closer look. The purple clematis is H.F. Young, a good one for either sun or shade:Top row: Rosa mutabilis, also called Butterfly Rose. These single roses have an artless simplicity, but the flowers offer a variety of colorations. 2nd row: Lonicera simpervirens, a native honeysuckle that hummingbirds love. 3rd row: I just planted H. F. Young Clematis in the woodland garden. It is more purple than I expected, but I don't mind at all. I like the stripes on the back!

And finally, here are a couple of photos that sum up what spring is about: New birth!Left: Emerging flowers of an amaryllis; I discovered last year that these are hardy in my zone 7b/8a, and I am delighted to see these emerging and blooming! Right: Newly emerging foliage of spreading yew.

Happy gardening, and enjoy the details!  Deborah

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Reader Comments (35)

Hi Deb....Your blooms and foliage are just beautiful! I like variegated foliage too and last fall planted a variegated Weigela. I haven't seen it bloom, so I'm really looking forward to that!

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

Cherokee Sunset looks stunning, and I still the remember the one and only Japanese painted fern I saw in a London garden.

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

Love the garden shot at top, beautiful. You have a lovely collection of plants in your garden.

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Flowering dogwoods do seem very ho hum, they are so over planted around here. But they stop me in my tracks every time. I never saw a double flowered one -- that's awesome --- but even the common single flowered pink dogwoods get me.

That weigela does look like sugary candy!

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

Your variegated Weigela Sweet as candy caught my eye when you where showing plants in bloom in your garden. That is absolutely gorgeous. I am going to go research that now that the nurseries are starting to kick in to high gear. I also really liked the iron work in your table in your first photo. That is really great fun. Thank you so much for sharing a little bit of your garden.

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

I do love some variegated foliage and don't like others. Weigela is one of my favorites especially the dwarf My Monet which flowers sparsely but has cream, pink, and green leaves. I love dogwoods and I think a double would be great. When you comment on my blog, it would be so great if you left your URL so I could just click back to yours. When you don't I have to search it on the internet. Thanks, Carolyn

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

Your garden is so beautiful! The Japanese Maples are lovely, everything is. As always! I so wish clematis grew well in California. Happy Spring. Jeannine

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeannine

Great details, and you have so many beautiful plants! But back to the Cornus, love them all! Such graceful plants that should be planted more often.

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

More than 15 Acers, that is a lot, but I can't say I blame you when they all have such lovely foliage! Your Cornus trees are very pretty, we don't see them very often over here, I wonder why? Your first photograph shows us what a beautiful garden you have, such lovely colours and textures.

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Mulligan

Beautiful Debbie, I so agree, the details, the views, the colour and form, all these are what make a garden such a pleasure. Spring brings so many simple pleasures. Christina

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Beautiful! I like these macro shots. It helps me see the tiny details instead of always focusing on the whole. :)

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

Great post. I know that flowering dogwoods are commonplace in some parts of the country, but they are unusual around here. I just planted one last year and I'm very excited about it. Looks like it will have a single blossom in a few days! Very interested in all the varieties of this species that you showed in this post.

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Just beautiful Deb!! My gardens are just behind yours. Such a stunning time of year. I love all the contrasting colors!

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEve

Hi Deb
Wish I lived closer - I would love to take a stroll through your garden! And I agree about variegated plants. They add a wonderful airy dimension to any plant grouping.

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAstrid

Hi Deb! That double flowered cornus is stunning, it looks like a mognolia, I just love it.
Instead of you, I am not very fond of variegated foliage, it feels somehow out of place in my garden and I use it very cautiously, but in your garden, where the whole design seems to be built over foliage, I just love all the different patterns and colours of the leaves you have. Very nice pics, especially the first one: I wish I could hang around there for a while, brushing the rosemary with a hand and looking around.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlberto

Gorgeous shot of your front garden! I'm not sure I could ever think of dogwoods as being ho-hum, but I think pink dogwoods are special and wish I had one. A shady garden is such a good place for variegated foliage, as the play of light on the white + color is very intriguing.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

Absolutely stunning! I love all of the variegated foliage and spring blooms in your garden. 'Cherokee Sunset' is one of my favorite dogwoods
too. Your ferns, clematis and JapMaples are all lovely! Glad I'm not the only one who sometimes loses count on the number of JapMaples in their garden! Thanks for sharing your spring garden 'up close' with your beautiful photos.

Some absolutely beautiful plants there, but that Cherokee Sunset is just delicious! I am also a fan of variegated foliage, but also of ferns, I adore them and have several different varieties in my own garden.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaula @ Spoons n Spades

Is that rosemary in your front garden? (center of picture) I'm pretty sure it is and love the way it looks. Mine are weird crooked shrubs reaching awkwardly to the side for sun. Do you prune this or is this the way yours grows naturally? I've only had rosemary for 1 year so I'm still learning. Love your garden.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Deb your garden is just looking better and better, I bought a variegated wiegela a couple of years ago and it's still quiet tiny I dream of one day having flowers and holly fern was one of the 2 ferns I bought last weekend in Inverness, I like the black stems against the green, Frances

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIsland Threads

Hi, everybody! Thanks so much for all of your kind comments. I appreciate each one very much. Kim, you asked about the rosemary. Yes, that is what it is, and I love it. This is the way it naturally grows, though I do prune it to keep it off the walk and to keep it from growing into the nearby azaleas. For some reason, rosemary loves this spot! The soil is good here, and they also get a lot of sun. I have two of them in this area, and they both have grown into fine shrubs. It may be you have a different type of rosemary. I have another one in a pot. It is a native, it has pale blue flowers, and it grows crooked!

April 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

Beautiful flowers and foliage. I, too, love variegated foliage, and I would have to agree with your description of the variegated weigela being sweet as candy. So pretty! It's the details that make us look closer, and enjoy the garden even more.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHolleyGarden

There are a number of pink flowering dogwoods in bloom along my walking route to work in Gettysburg, and I love to see their clouds of pink blooms from a distance. At this time of year, how do you ever leave your beautiful garden to do anything else (like go to work!)?

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Deb, I share your fondness for variegated foliage, You have shown the Weigela so beautifully, many people will now be considering it.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlistair

I had a draceana houseplant (except without the outer lime bands) which grew too large so I re-potted it and left it outside. Seeing yours outside gives me hope that it will be OK.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterb-a-g

I have to agree, with dazzling foliage, you don't really need flowers. My first garden was very shady, and many blooming plants struggled to ever look their best. That garden, for me, was a excellent lesson in texture, and color, using primarily foliage. Before that garden I'd tended to shun plants with unique foliage, but I learned the leaves are perhaps even more important than flowers for a plant, as you see them for many more months in a garden year!

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

The beauty in the details is just wonderful. The flowers, the foliage was just stunning.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBernieh

These are lovely, Deb. I, too, am a huge fan of pink dogwood. I have one in the front yard, and it blooms and blooms....so much longer than many of the other flowering trees. Happy gardening to you as well.

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Sage Butterfly

I've never seen Cherokee Sunset or the double dogwood before. Beautiful Plants!

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRandy

I fell in love with dogwoods when we lived in Oregon. I planted a beautiful Cherokee Sunset outside my Dining room window... oh it was beautiful. Dogwoods wouldn't last in my gardens here, too cold too hot and at times too windy. Your images are breathtaking, Deb. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

Ah! Such gentle beauty!

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack Holloway

Deborah these are lovely examples...I have the variegated weigela...the hummers and pollinators love it as much as I do.

Your pictures in this post are beautiful. I love Japanese maples as well. I looked up the Yaupon hollies you mentioned from your last post but I can't find them over here. They're supposed to be hardy to zone 6 so I think they would grow. I'll keep looking. The latin name Ilex vomitoria made me laugh, particularly when I read that you can make tea from their leaves and stem.

May 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Allen

What absolutely beautiful photos - your love for these plants really shows through. You're right about taking the time to examine the details of plants - aren't they extraordinary? 'Pluribracteata' is a stunner and a new one to me - now I want to see this dogwood for myself.

May 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Gardening Shoe

The view of your garden and the details are all just lovely Deb. I would love to add a pink flowering dogwood at some point.

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
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