June 16, 2018

The Flowers Are Nice, But the Foliage Is Fun

mixed foliage 2

With the tropical conditions we're experiencing lately (80s and 90s for highs and about four inches of rain during the past couple of days), the plants are plump and healthy. Quite a few are blooming, but it's the foliage that's really standing out right now in my dappled- to partial-shade garden.

I always plant quite a few Coleus in pots--plants that like shade and offer dramatic swatches of color.  What's not to love?

coleus 1

coleus 2

coleus 4

coleus 3

coleus 5

And several dramatic foliage combinations weren't entirely planned, but I'm enjoying them:

coleus and calla
Looking across colorful Coleus to the underside of speckled Calla leaves.

shamrock and ivy
OK, this one was planned because I do it almost ever year: Purple Shamrocks (Oxalis triangularis) with variegated English Ivy (Hedera helix). I overwinter these guys in pots in my sunroom.

alternanthera 1
Also in pots with English Ivy--Alternanthera (A. ficoidea 'Red Threads'), from the top. I've grown Alternanthera before, but never in a "foliage only" pot. I like it, and I'll probably do it again.

alternanthera 2
The same Alternanthera, looking up through the foliage with dappled sun shining through it. Talk about drama!

Here are a few more subtle, but nifty, combinations of plant forms and structures:

sedums and petunias
Severely clipped Petunias (to encourage heft and more flowers), with Sedums in a hanging basket.

mixed foliage 1
Here's an unnamed variegated Hosta surrounded by several friends. Can you name the friends?

ferns
This arrangement of ferns in front of a large rock was placed by the previous owners. It's lovely, but it's in an out-of-the-way place that's barely noticeable: kind of a mini secret garden.

columbine and sedums
Sedums and Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) planted in a tipped whiskey barrel. I use lava rocks for mulch in most of my pots to discourage chipmunks and squirrels from digging.

tiarella
A new plant for me this year: 'Sugar and Spice' Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia). This one is a nativar. With the exception of my potted plants, I'm trying to add mainly straight species native plants, but I made an exception for this one. The flowers are nice, but the foliage is really nifty.

Somewhere along the way, I missed the memo that Pam at Digging is no longer hosting the 'Foliage Follow-Up' meme, but I thank her for the inspiration and her years of encouraging us to look beyond the blooms.

46 comments:

  1. Foliage is fun! That Alternathera is stunning. I never see it for sale here. I hope the "tropical" weather continues.

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    1. Yes! I'm in love with the Alternanthera/Hedera combo. It deserves to shine as the focal point. I think I'm going to have to try to overwinter that pot in the sunroom this year!

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  2. Beth, I love the alternanthera, wonderful color and form. I have a 'thing' for coleus, too and started a bunch of them from cuttings. They do add so much to the garden with all of their color variations. Luckily for us, we received 1 7/8" of rain on Friday, what a relief! Weeding after that was a breeze (even though it was hot!) Great photography!

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    1. Isn't that nifty? :) I know you have an amazing show of annuals and perennials every year, Karen. One of these years, when you're not too busy, I'd love to come visit! I'm so glad you got some rain!!

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  3. Foliage is fun. I like your combos. Hmmmm some of the friends around the unnamed hosta look like Golden tiera hosta, hellebore, epimedium and lily of the valley is what I see.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. Wow, you got all the foliage plants in that photo except the roses, which are barely visible in the upper left! Great eye!

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  4. I love coleus! A few years ago, I went a little crazy buying coleus and had a few left over, so I just stuck them in a pot without any flowers. I liked the combo so well, I've done it--on purpose--ever since. I've never tried Alternanthera, but it looks so striking in your containers, I may try it next year. Hope you are holding up in this heat; this weekend is brutal!

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    1. Thanks, Rose. Mixing and matching Coleus--even without flowers--is nifty. I do that sometimes, too. I haven't done Alternanthera every year, but I think it's going to be a regular from here on out. I'm really liking it with the English Ivy! Yes, this weather is warm! Great for swimming (I wish I had a pool!), but not the best for gardening. ;-)

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  5. Oh I love the Alternanthera! I haven't seen that before. I'm hesitant to plant more coleus as last year I had critters eat some of mine, leaving a large empty space in one of my planters out front. Too bad, as there are so many beautiful ones!

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    1. Isn't it awesome?! Oh dear, sorry to hear about the critters eating the Coleus! That has never happened to me. Chipmunks like to root around in my pots, but rocks and especially lava rocks seem to keep them out and focusing on easier diggings. ;-)

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  6. Love those red verticals with the light hitting them. I grow a number of Tiarellas, all for the foliage. Planted a cuople of new things this morning and am iside recovering from the hear.

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    1. Yes, agreed--on all that you say! I'm inside today, with periodic checks to pick and tug and visit the garden without too much exertion. A leisurely Father's Day gathering later today. Take it easy out there!

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  7. Hi,
    I like the sedums in the hanging basket.
    Squirrels are really naughty this year. They have gotten into just about every hanging basket I have!

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    1. The Sedums and the Petunias were a free combo that I got at a conference last August. I overwintered both of them in my sunroom. People probably thought I was crazy to overwinter Petunias, but I loved them so much! I haven't had too much trouble with squirrels, but the chipmunks have certainly been rambunctious! And I'm still at war with the rabbits! ;-)

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  8. Coleus has spectacularly colourful foliage. I get frustrated between choosing colour, or native species. Only the Leucadendron ticks both boxes.

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    1. Yes, I've always enjoyed having Coleus in my shady garden. It gives me the color I crave when the woods all around me are green, green, green! I'm going with more and more native plants--especially for plantings in the ground. For the pots: Anything goes! :)

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  9. Four inches of rain in a couple of days! My total for our "rain year" (counted from October 1st) sits at 3.78 inches. While that total is crazy even for dry SoCal, I can't help being green with envy (pun intended) over your rain. I can understand why your coleus are happy. I'm growing some too but most of it's in my lath (shade) house where I'm freer with irrigation. I grow Alternanthera too - it's a short-lived perennial here but my plants are nowhere near as happy as yours this year. As for hostas - well, *sigh*

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    1. I would trade for your climate, though, Kris! SoCal can't be beat in February and March when I just need to get out of the winter! One of these days I'll come visit you! I also have some family members out there. :) We have had several inches again after this post, believe it or not. June is always our month of highest precipitation, but this year it's over the top! In some ways, it's been good though, because we've had very hot days already this summer (usually the 90s don't hit until July or August). The Hostas were all here when we moved in, and I take them for granted.

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  10. Beautiful foliage - I'm especially partial to the coleus! That's a great tip about the lava rock - I'm not sure how easy it will be for me to find that as I don't recall seeing it in stores, but I must do something similar as I have had a bit of digging in my pots this spring.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret. Yes, the lava rock seems to be the only thing to keep the chipmunks out the pots long-term. Another good thing about the lava rock is that it cuts down on slug and earwig damage. Do you guys have Lowe's? I think they sell lava rock--at least here in the states.

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  11. Often I find the best combinations are unplanned. Yours are gorgeous, the pink and red leaves contrasting beautifully with the greens.

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    1. I agree. Sometimes it's like magic happening in front of me and I had very little to do with it. LOL. Thanks--the Coleus naturally work together in all their forms and colors. :)

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  12. So nice to play with different foliage, you do this in an excellent way. Love all that kind of shapes and colours toegether, it keeps the garden vivid.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, it is great fun to play around with foliage--especially in pots! The other plants out in the garden come together over time, but sometimes I really crave the quick, pull-it-together exercise of combining plants in pots. :)

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  13. Foliage has a tasteful beauty (vs. those gaudy flowers! tee hee ;)

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    1. Flowers are awesome, too, of course. But I have to keep reminding myself that foliage can be pretty magical in all its different forms and shades and structures. :)

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  14. Beth you have some great combinations there. Your Alternanthera in the dappled sun is pretty. When you're finished with that rain, please direct it to NC. Very dry and now extremely hot.

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    1. Thanks, Susie! I couldn't quite capture the magic of the Alternanthera. It's really quite special. I will save this one over the winter, for sure. I am sending you some rain right now--we have had wayyyy tooooo much!

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  15. Fabulous foliage! The English ivy and purple shamrock combination is stunning and since both are hardy here, I may lift this idea. As for naming the hosta companions, let's go with Alice, Jerome, Sandy, and Louise :)

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    1. Thanks! Yes, wow, go for it with the ivy and shamrocks! You're so lucky they're hardy out your way. I keep mine in the sunroom during the winter and they certainly brighten the gray days. OK, from now on when I see that corner of the garden with the Hostas I will think of your names. LOL.

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  16. Lots of fun combinations in your garden. I tend to stay away from Coleus because I like cooler colors in shade.

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    1. Thanks, Jason. I find that I need some bright color, especially during the middle of the summer. But I think my shade is a little deeper than yours. The Coleus are all in pots on the patio.

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  17. Beautiful foliage plants! Love the purple shamrock!
    I am growing more coleus than before because my front yard is becoming more of a shade garden, and they do well there. And there are so many marvelous color combinations!
    Happy Gardening!
    PS. Hope your blueberry plants do well!

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    1. Hi Lee: Coleus are great for shade, aren't they? And there are so many variations. I love them in pots. Speaking of pots, the blueberries are doing OK. I think I might need to add more peat moss, but I'm trying to figure out if I should actually re-pot them, or just add peat to the top layer. I hope I can keep them alive, and that they'll eventually thrive.

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  18. I plant coleus every year to add color and fun to my woodland garden. There are so many varieties, and they can really brighten a gloomy space!

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    1. I agree! I've been doing it for years, too. It works well with Impatiens, which also thrive in shade. :)

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  19. Fabulous foliage Beth. I love your coleus collection. Alternanthera is new to me. Love it.

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    1. Thanks, Chloris. The Coleus is amazing in the shade. I'm really enjoying this Alternanthera cultivar--I think I'll have to overwinter it as a houseplant. :)

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  20. Hi Beth, your garden looks very tropical. If i don't know where you are i would think that you are just somewhere here. I have 3 varieties of Coleus now, just that they don't grow as lush yet because our rains are not yet optimum for them.

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    1. Yes, we tend to go pretty tropical here in the summer. The conditions are almost always right from June through September--heat and humidity. Of course, I purchased these plants as established starts, so they were ready to go. Enjoy your collection!

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  21. I love the flowers . . .
    But the foliage brings “character!”
    Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Lynne! I love the flowers, too! The entire structure of the plants altogether is awesome!

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  22. I love coleus, too! Flowers are awesome but so are all the leaves. They keep it interesting after the flowers have faded. Beautiful garden shots. :o) We've had loads of rain, too. It's nuts!

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    1. Good points! If you purchase plants with great foliage, you always have interesting structure and color in the garden! Thanks, Tammy. OMG, enough rain! ;-) (And I so rarely complain about too much rain!)

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  23. I love the Alternathera. The red leaves look great in the light. We also love coleuses and use a lot of them in our garden in both sun and shade.

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    1. Isn't that Alternanthera fabulous?! The day when I took those photos, the light was really tricky. I'm looking at it out my window now, though, and it really is that colorful--especially with the sun shining through it. Coleus plants are so fun!

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