Entries in colorful foliage (8)


Patterns in the Woodland Garden

White sun may be glaring beyond the trees, washing out the details of summer; but inside the woodland garden, shadows and light create intricate patterns and points of interest. Light shines through the foliage of a Chinese fan palm in the woodland garden. It is one among a handful of palms that can survive the winter in my 8a hardiness zone.It is a mysterious place where I can easily imagine hidden eyes peering out from corners of darkness. It is no coincidence that many fairy tales are set in woodlands.This is a recent photo of the deep green summer woodland garden.

From the above photos, one could think that green is the only color in the woodland garden. That is not far from the truth, but there are spots of other colors, even a few flowers. One must pause along the path to find them; they do not shout for attention.Top: I have long ago forgotten the name of this lily, once an Easter gift. Below the lily are Snowflake Hydrangea and a purple Calla Lily, and at the bottom are a Variegated Hydrangea and a Gardenia. The fragrance of the gardenia bush fills the garden. The subtle color of Snowflake Hydrangea is echoed in the background by a variegated redbud, 'Whitewater'.

Flowers come and go like ethereal mists, but foliage is always the star in the woodland garden. The top photo below is hosta 'Sum and Substance'. The others are seedlings whose parents are Francis Williams and Elegans.

My deep green summer woodland garden is full of little surprises, thanks to an assortment of plants with colorful foliage: 

I always pause to examine their dots and splashes and stripes and frills. The woodland garden is dark and green, but never dull. Happy gardening!


Cheating the Deep Shadows

The deep greening of the woodland garden has begun. The light, ephemeral shades of spring have faded, and already summer's heavier presence hovers over the moss path and the planting beds. May is a month of transition. Trees provide a thick canopy, and the woodlands become a sheltering cave out of the white glare of the sun. Walk in, and you are lost in the verdancy.
A recent photo of the entrance to the woodland garden

A few more recent images take in the woodland gardenSo what can a gardener do with all that green?

I cheat. At least it feels like cheating, for little horticultural skill is needed on my part. In a few spots I plant impatiens, and, even easier, in other places I just plop a pot of shade-loving annuals down. Instantly a gratifying splash of color lights up the darkest corner. With some water and fertilizer, colorful flowers and foliage will add interest to the green woodlands all the way into fall.Begonia 'Bonfire' highlights a purple pot.

Adding variegated foliage is another way to brighten the shadows. I don't think I have ever seen a variegated plant I did not love. I could easily be carried away to the point of gaudiness, but then, a touch of gaudiness is needed to make the world smile.
Top: A pot of colorful caladiums. Clockwise from above left: Another view of the caladiums; Variegated Liriope; Variegated Joseph's Coat; Zantedeshia albomaculata, spotted Calla Lily.
Angel wing begonia adds interesting foliage as well as pretty flowers.

Fatsia Japonica is a recent addition to the woodlands. It is another green, but the huge leaves make a bold statement.

And finally, cooler tones, as seen in Deodar Cedar 'Feelin' Blue' and the mondo grass beneath it, prevent the greens from becoming oppressive:

Spring was very good this year. It started early, in January, and lasted through April, so I should not begrudge its ending. Soon cicadas will sing, and lightning bugs will flicker in the twilight. Sweat will run down the neck. Clothing will stick to the body. Hot and wild, the jungle will grow, and there is nothing quite like deep green in the summertime.