Garden Design and The Leaf Stack Challenge

Garden Design and The Leaf Stack Challenge

In early September the Plantrama Podcast started the Leaf Stack Challenge. The idea is to collect an assortment of foliage that are different shapes, sizes, colors and textures, and pile them up…then take a photo and post it as you wish with the hashtag #leafstackchallenge. Why? Because it’s a fun activity that can open our eyes to the amazing diversity of foliage that grows around us. It’s also a good way to think about the importance of foliage in your landscape.

You can make a leaf stack from the leaves of just shrubs and trees. You could use annuals and perennials, or wild plants from by the road. A leaf stack can be made from colorful lettuces in your vegetable garden and then eaten as a salad. Or now that many plants are taking on autumnal colors, you could do some leaf stacks of fall foliage. I’ve seen posts by people who have done a #LeafStackChallenge at a party or barbecue, and it’s a great project for kids as well. (If you have stinging nettles or poison ivy on your property be sure to point these out as “off limits” and “do not touch” plants!)

But beyond a fun activity and landscape eye-opener, the #leafstackchallenge can be a good way to think about garden design. When I’m doing a design consultation I aim for using assorted plants that have a variety of foliage colors and textures, because with plants that have different colors and shapes of leaves you’ll always have a beautiful garden even if nothing is in flower. And the home landscaper has never had such a wonderful variety to choose from.

To make the point about what a great selection of foliage colors and textures there are, I went out into the nursery and shade perennial section and picked a few leaves to make a leaf stack.

Even in the fall there is are so many choices in the nursery. This small section of shrubs gave me all I needed for several lovely leaf stacks…not to mention many beautiful landscapes!

This leaf stack was made from the nursery, with the exception of the one large leaf on the bottom. Do you recognize it? It’s from our raised bed vegetable display. But after that we have (from bottom to top) a Viburnum, Acuba, Leucothoe, another Leucothore, Pieris, Holly, Puckered Red Twig Dogwood and a Scallywag Holly leaf.  You could have all of these lovely colors and textures of leaves in your landscape.

This entry to the #leafstackchallenge was made from shade perennials. From bottom to top we have: Ferns, Ligularia, Heuchera, Hosta, Pulmonaria,Heuchera, Hosta and Tiarella. Who says you can’t have color in a shade garden? 

Take the #LeafStackChallenge and see what you’ve already got in your yard and garden…then send us the photos or post them on your social networks.

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