Design Tip #1: Use foliage as colour first.

When my children were small, I always used them in my explanation of garden design for my clients. I would say “ Suppose my children snuck into your garden one night and cut off all the flowers. Your garden should still look good. If we design using foliage first, the flowers will be a bonus.” 
 We are so fortunate that plant breeders have worked so hard to create perennials, trees and shrubs with amazing foliage colours and textures, neat and tidy habits and interesting features such as attractive bark or long lasting seed heads. It’s important to use these features to full advantage when designing the ornamental garden. Plants that are perennial (live more than one season) typically don’t have a long season of bloom, because the plant is not trying to go to seed as quickly and prolifically as possible as annuals (plants that only live one season) do. This means that choosing all your perennials based on their flowers may not lead to the best possible garden.


Instead, choose your perennials, trees and shrubs as a whole picture. Some plants, such as Alpine Cranberry, have a great habit, naturally growing into a nice round mound. Some have unusual foliage, such as the grass like leaves of Dayliies which pair nicely with the huge leaves of ornamental rhubarb. Some plants, like Heucheras or Brunneras, have gorgeous coloured foliage which is as colourful and visible as any flower.
Create combinations such as finely textured leaves paired with large leaves, or fuzzy gray leaves paired with flat purple leaves, or my favourite, acid green leaves (such as the ones of Golden Creeping Jenny) paired with pretty much anything.

foliage in Calgary

Blackberry Heuchera with Golden Creeping Jenny

If you think of foliage first, your garden will be more attractive and more interesting, and really will look great, even if my children snuck into your garden and cut off every flower.
What are some of your favourite foliage plants?

Posted Friday, June 17th, 2016 under Uncategorized.

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