One of the things that many of our customers request is “More color!” Usually they are talking about flowers, of course. We all want something that’s in bloom in every month of the year. But along with planning for plants that will flower, remember to look at foliage color and texture. If your garden is planted with a range of leaf colors and sizes, your landscape will always have color whether the plants are in bloom or not.
The wonderful thing is, it isn’t hard to find plants that have colorful foliage. I took a quick walk around the garden center today, and here is just a fraction of the plants that I saw that can bring color into Cape Cod landscapes.
Blue Star junipers have lovely blue-gray foliage. They are low growing, and good for sunny areas. Plant these near plants with reddish foliage for a perfect combination.
You might want that Blue Star Juniper planted in front of a dark-leafed ninebark, for example. There are several varieties of Physocarpus opulifolius with purple, red or almost black leaves. This one is Summer Wine, which grows about four to five feet tall and six feet wide. Not only do they have nice red leaves, but they also produce pinkish-white flowers in June! Plant ninebark in full sun.
Want even more color in a full sun? Gold Mop Chamaecyparis (aka false cypress) has bright yellow foliage and an interesting, shaggy texture. A word of warning about this plant, however: it does NOT say a low, cute golden mop. It grows into a beautiful, 5 foot tall and wide golden mop, so place it accordingly! People who try to keep this plant small by shearing it annually end up removing the very thing that makes it attractive…that bright, shaggy foliage.
Sempervivum, aka hens-and-chicks, come in a variety of colors. These are great plants to tuck in rock walls, or plant in hot, dry locations. You can even grow them in containers if you want a drought-tolerant windowbox or urn.
Dappled willows are especially beautiful in the spring when the new foliage is pink and white. Salix ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ is available in shrub or tree form. Note that the shrub should be pruned by taking the oldest branches out near to the ground, which will stimulate growth on the top. if this plant is just sheared every year it has less color since the new growth is the most colorful. Both shrub and tree form should be pruned by removing about 1/4 of the growth every year, selecting the oldest stems.
You say you’ve got shade? There are many plants with colorful foliage that prefer part to full shade. This yellow Carex, for example, is just one of the many sedges that will brighten up your shade garden. Pair this with some blue hosta and you’ve got a stunning combination!
No shade garden is complete without a few Heuchera! Coral bells used to come in green, green or green, but now our perennial section is packed with coral, red, purple, lime and golden heucheras. Some have white flowers, and others have pink to peach blossoms.
Bright gold foliage and sweet pink heart flowers. How can you not love Dicentra ‘Gold Heart’ in the shade garden?
This time of year is so exciting at the garden center as trucks roll in almost daily. Stop in and see what a rich palette of colorful foliage is available for your garden.