September 15, 2014

The foliage that frames the flowers

hyacinth bean foliage 2

I was thinking today ... there's a reason foliage and flowers are paired (many reasons, actually, but that's another post).

For this month's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up, I decided to focus on six plants blooming in my USDA zone 5 garden that are especially complimented by their foliage.

For example:

hyacinth bean

What would the pretty little purple flowers of the Hyacinth Bean vine (Lalab purpureus) be ...

hyacinth bean foliage 1

... without their magenta-veined, twining leaves (not to mention the vines and the beans). The leaves change to a fascinating chartreuse/sage color under some conditions and with time, as shown in the first photo in this post.

fuchsia

Fuchsia 'Marinka' flowers would still be fabulous ...

fuchsia foliage

... but not nearly as impressive as they are framed by this multicolored foliage.

vinca

Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca minor) blooms for a short time in the spring, and occasionally in late summer and fall ...

vinca foliage

... but its evergreen foliage is shiny and bright during four seasons.

cosmos

The cheery Cosmos (C. bipinnatus 'Versailles Mix') would be nearly perfect on its own ...

cosmos foliage

... but then add the funky, hairy foliage and the plant is even nearer perfection.

mistflower

Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) is certainly a lovely bloomer, yet ...

mistflower foliage

... its sweet, understated leaves give it grace and heart.

lantana

Finally, Lantana (L. camara 'Lucky Flame') is certainly a bright, impressive bloomer ...

lantana foliage

... but its shiny, bright leaves give the plant power and really make the flowers pop!

Those are a few of the plants still blooming in my garden. What's blooming in your part of the world? Do you have fascinating foliage to share?

Be sure to visit May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, and Digging for Foliage Follow-Up.

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Coming soon: The Garden Lessons Learned and Seasonal Celebrations wrap-ups. Donna and I would be pleased to have you join us! Please share a post, or your thoughts, about lessons from the past season and how you enjoy celebrating the next season. Many people cover both in the same post. To join in, click here to leave a comment with a link to your post. We'll share the wrap-ups at the equinox. Cheers!

58 comments:

  1. You are so right about the foliage adding to the beauty of the blossoms!

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    1. The foliage often takes a back seat, but even the most normal leaves help to make the blooms pop. They really should be appreciated together with many plants. They wouldn't be the same without each other. ;-)

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  2. Beautiful post Beth, and so true, an excellent flowering plant has to have excellent foliage too in my book, and preferably foliage with good autumn colour too!

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    1. Thanks, Janet. I agree--variegated and colorful foliage really catches the eye. And sometimes even understated, bright green foliage is a great partner for a beautiful bloom. Most of the time, they're excellent partners.

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  3. For some plants foliage is in the background but your choices are perfect Beth. I especially love the hyacinth bean vine and cosmos. I adore cosmos the most for its ferny foliage that I can see from a long way away....

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    1. I'm a sucker for funky foliage, that's for sure. ;-) But I also love all the basic shades of green that frame vibrant flowers. Without that anchor of strong, healthy foliage, the blooms just don't have the same effect, even if the foliage is understated.

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  4. A great post. You are right, foliage is so important to set flowers off. I have been looking at my colchicums; they are not called naked ladies for nothing. They really could do with a nice foliage ruff to grow out of. I must see what I can do for next year.

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    1. Yes, I've thought about those amazing Amaryllis family plants as a good example. The previous owners of this place had the foresight to place them amongst Hostas and ground cover plants. So, though the Naked Ladies spring up out of nowhere, with no foliage of their own, they're surrounded by lovely summer foliage. Great point!

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  5. What a delightful post! I especially love those leaves veined with purple, (like the hyacinth bean) but you've shown so many new ones to love. Isn't this the marvelous season when we focus on leaves leaves leaves? What a joy. "To whom are we beautiful as we fall?" For we are like the leaves...

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    1. Thank you, Susie. The Hyacinth Bean plant has so much going for it. And it's so easy and inexpensive to grow (from seed). Yes, autumn foliage is the best. Next month should be a knockout regarding color! :)

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  6. What a great way to pair these two memes! I agree about the Hyacinth Bean; although I love the delicate little flowers and those purple beanpods, the foliage itself would eye-catching on its own. I also think one of the reasons I like cosmos so much is because of the airy foliage that surrounds those blooms. Yesterday we had another day like Friday--cold and rainy. I'm so glad the sun has finally come out again today; I'm trying to find some Monarchs in the garden.

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    1. Thanks, Rose. :) I always want to join in both, but I don't always get around to it. And of course, blooms and foliage are always best together (in my humble opinion). Yes, Hyacinth Bean and Cosmos blooms and foliage are fabulous! It looks like our forecast here in the Midwest is clear and perfect for a few days. Yay!

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  7. All beautiful--blooms and foliage. I grow several of those as well, here in zone 8b.
    Absolutely lovely photos!

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    1. Thanks! All but the Vinca and the Mistflowers are annuals here. I do grow quite a few annuals. I'm working on adding more native autumn-blooming plants to the shady parts of my garden. Next summer at this time hopefully I'll have more of those to share, too. :)

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  8. So true! I've learned to take the foliage of a plant that I'm considering buying into consideration much more than I used to, since that is what you'll see a lot of the time! I love foliage with magenta in it, like the fuchsia. I also love golden foliage. Both tend to show off flowers really well, I think.

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    1. I've gotten to the point where Fuchsias are the flower of choice for my hanging baskets. They're so easy-care and perform so well at the ends of the growing season--the very beginning and the end. Plus, the hummingbirds love them! :)

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  9. What a fun post! Yes, these plants do have nice looking foliage. I just planted blue mistflower this year, hoping it won't spread too far and wide. It's been well behaved so far this year. I haven't seen many pollinators visiting it, though. Thanks for your nice comment on my goldenrod post.

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    1. Thanks, Sue. Blue Mistflower is new to my garden, too. I hear it's prolific, but so far it's growing slowly here. I haven't seen many pollinators on it yet, either. Maybe when it gets bigger and expands. Goldenrod is a beautiful plant, and it's been so healthy in this part of the Midwest this year. Looks like that's the case in your garden, too. :)

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  10. A clever pairing of Bloom Day and foliage follow-up. I keep meaning to try the Hyacinth bean vine - it's a lovely plant.

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    1. Thank you: The thought simply occurred to me as I was taking stock of the plants still thriving in the garden. Yes, Hyacinth Bean vine is a winner as an annual (here, at least) ornamental vine. The beans are edible, too, but you have to be really careful about the cooking requirements, so I don't bother.

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  11. I think you nailed it! The bean foliage reminds me of Forest Pansy Redbud.

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    1. Thanks. I can see it. We have a straight species Redbud tree, and it also has the big leaves, but I see what you mean about 'Forest Pansy.' It's lovely.

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  12. I have been travelling for the past months, so I can't bring any news on foliage, but I definitely love to see your images with green leaves and some rain and flowers, I love blue periwincle and white cosmos, and ... especially green leaves!

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    1. Thanks, Lula. Lucky you, to have some travels to report on! Still green leaves aplenty around here, but some of the tree color is starting to come out with our recent cool weather.

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  13. True, it seems that foliage trumps the flowers here many years. Happy Bloom Day and Foliage Followup.~~Dee

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    1. Thanks, Dee! I find it fascinating how the two interplay--sometimes the blooms shine and other times the foliage. For some plants, both share the spotlight or wouldn't be nearly as spectacular without each other. :)

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  14. I grew Blue Mistflower last year and was impressed that it bloomed the first year, and I thought it was lovely, but it didn't survive the winter, so for me it was an annual. However this year I grew Ageratum 'Blue Diamond' for the first time, which is supposed to be an annual, and it blew me away by earliness and abundance of bloom far beyond Blue Mistflower, and also has nice foliage, so I am growing it instead in the future. I liked all your foliage choices, it seems heart-shaped flowers tend to be a favorite of mine, and also variegated.

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    1. Hmmmm...I do hope mine will survive this winter. Hopefully, it won't be near as brutal as last winter! I have visions for one section of my garden that include a nice swath of Blue Mistflower, but we'll see if those visions become a reality. ;-)

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  15. So true. Sometimes I prefer the foliage over the flowers.

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    1. Me, too, Layanee. Or sometimes it's the combination that makes it work--one wouldn't shine near as much without the other.

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  16. An interesting post, and you're so right -- foliage definitely adds a little something to some plants.

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    1. Since most of my garden is shade or partial shade, foliage always reigns. I'm trying to add more shade-tolerant, native plants that flower in late summer, but it's taking some time. :)

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  17. flowers AND foliage would be Hibiscus tiliaceus in my garden. Fleeting buttery yellow flowers, and heart-shaped leaves. Both leaves and flowers do the autumn colour thing, year round!

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    1. Nice. The H. tiliaceus has a beautiful, unique shape, too, I can see from photos. The foliage kind of reminds me of our Redbud trees. My climate is too cold for it, but it's a lovely tree!!

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  18. I find the leaves, foliage can often be the "best beauty!"

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    1. Yes, sometimes I find that, as well. Or sometimes the blooms and foliage take turns in the limelight. It's the interplay that's fascinating. :)

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  19. That is such an interesting idea, and something I had not really thought of. I have tended to see them as separate entities as not as one complementary whole... the cosmos and it's ferny foliage are a match made in heaven !

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    1. I so agree about the Cosmos plant! So many good things to say about that plant. I've been growing it as an annual for years, and my admiration for it keeps growing!

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  20. Your hyancint bean looks more purple than mine. That's really beautiful. My purple version has light purple flower, they have already started flowering.
    All part of your garden is so beautiful! I'll never bored to peek your garden

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    1. I enjoy the fact that we're growing Hyacinth Bean vine in two very different climates! The partial shade and the temperature might make a difference in the color and blooms. Thank you for your kind words, Endah. :)

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  21. Oh you have some tropical plants there too. And your post now reminded me again that i forgot about GBBD, I am already very late so maybe i must be conscious about it next month.

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    1. Yes, tropical plants work very well in our Midwestern U.S. summer climate, so many people grow them as annuals. Most summers are much hotter than this year, but we always have a nice stretch of 80sF/25C-30C, or warmer during the summer months.

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  22. What a great take on your plants! Loving the Hyacinth bean vine. It's made it's way to my wish list.

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    1. Thanks! I think you'll like the Hyacinth Bean vine. I fell in love with it the first summer I planted it: A Tale of Two Vines. Keep me posted! ;-)

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  23. Oh so true! Mother nature (and plant breeders for that matter) do on most occasions get it just right. My favourite just has to be the Hyacinth Bean Vine - a new one on me.

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    1. Agreed! On all of your points, Angie. :) I can't say enough good things about Hyacinth Bean vine. The only (slightly) negative thing is that it's not a perennial, so it must be replanted every year. But it grows very well from seed, so it's very inexpensive.

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  24. How cold do you get there? My periwinkle on the coast would lose most of it's leaves, and I am about to discover how they do up here for the first time.

    Jen

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    1. Hi Jen: We rarely get below -20F/-29C, but to be honest the Vinca is usually under a deep layer of snow by that time. It does brown up a bit, so perhaps a better description is semi-evergreen. But it's among the first foliage plants to green up in the spring and it stays green through the late fall. I would guess our climates are quite similar now--hot in summer and cold in winter, but plentiful snow cover (usually).

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  25. You are right Beth, foliage can add so much extra interest to plants. There are only a few I can think of that would look better without theirs. I'm still craving that Lantana, it's high on my wants list!

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    1. I think you'll enjoy Lantanas. I've heard they can be invasive in some places, but here they're excellent annuals that grow into shrubs by the end of the summer. Sad that they die with the frost, but then we don't have to worry about them getting out of control.

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  26. Thanks for a lovely post Beth :-) I love seeing photos of your Hyacinth Bean vine, and the leaves are raelly pretty too. Since you mention fuchsias I have to add that I have so many different types of fuchsias that I can really appreciate the difference in colour, shape and size fuchsia leaves come in – now that could be a post on its own! From the tiniest leaf to the really big one, greyish, dark green to bright green, they are all very different.

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    1. Thanks, Helene! The Hyacinth Bean on the obelisk was kind of an afterthought this season, but I think it turned out well. Yes, you do have an amazing collection of Fuchsias! I plant them every summer because the hummingbirds love them. I have baskets around the front porch and in the back. Another favorite annual plant! I'm jealous that you can get them to last through the winter! :)

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  27. Foliage has first place in my heart. I once planted hyacinth bean, and I loved it till I found about twenty seedlings sprouting in different parts of my garden! Sadly I had to get rid of it. I still think it is beautiful despite its promiscuous habit.

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    1. Interesting--I've never found seedlings in my garden. Of course, I usually harvest the limited beans, and they're growing in a very small, contained area. I wonder if the colder climate here (and limited sun) keeps it in check, too? Anyway, I can understand pulling it out if it takes over for you.

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  28. Nice post. You are right that you need the foliage to make a whole picture with the flowers.

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    1. Thanks, Jason. Yes, I was running around--like I usually do the day before GBBD--looking at flowers and realizing none of them would shine like they do without foliage. So, the post pretty much wrote itself. ;-)

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  29. The longer I garden the more I realize how important foliage is. It helps round out the entire scene we create with our gardens. They help keep the plantings interesting. :)

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    1. Yes, yes, yes. Although, I could do with a few more bloomers in late summer/early fall in the shady part of my garden. I'm working on that, but it's taking some time.

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