Foliage plants

by Adam Pasco

Although flowers usually steal the headlines, just think what your garden would look like without foliage.

ColeusAlthough flowers usually steal the headlines, think how bleak a garden would look without foliage. Leaves are a vital part of every garden. Consider the contrast between the lushness of summer and the bleakness of winter, when tender plants have gone and deciduous plants have lost their leaves.

Some foliage plants form the centrepieces to displays, like the brilliant coleus in one of my patio pots (pictured, above). It's one of the 'Kong' series, I think, and, having started off as quite a small thing, it has continued growing strongly to dominate this display. Yes it's tender, but I could take cuttings now to keep young plants through winter on a warm, bright windowsill. The contrast in colour between the cream-and-pink-veined upper surface of each crinkled leaf and the reddish pink below is stunning. Who needs flowers when you've got colour like this?

Many of my patio pots are planted for season-long impact, and that often means foliage wins over flowers. I've pots of ornamental grasses like miscanthus and imperata, several Japanese maples in large pots, a striking Hosta nigrescens, and a nicely clipped box ball, to name but a few. All have their place, growing and changing as the year progresses.

Of course I have pots of flowers, too, but it's the foliage that provides a lasting quality to my displays. And although my coleus isn't hardy enough to survive outside over winter, many of the others are. Growing bigger with each passing year, it's the foliage plants that really do give great value for money.

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Gardeners' World Web User 01/09/2009 at 18:08

i love the foliage on my geranium

Gardeners' World Web User 02/09/2009 at 12:53

There is a thistle called Syllibum marianum which has the most striking foliage of dark green and white. Heathers always look good because,even when not in flower, their foliage is attractive, but my favourite foliage plant is my eucalyptus tree.

Gardeners' World Web User 06/09/2009 at 19:29

i went to kings heath park today it was gardeners weekend there there were many flower with great colurs and foliage to many to name it really brightened up my day

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:39

I really love coloured foliage texture and shape also, have several Acers in pots, but the one with the lovely deep red leaves has suffered this year,all the leaves have shrivelled and died on the tree this happened early august yet the week before it looked really lovely, I hope it hasn't died.