I’m late – again – but joining in with Christina’s Foliage Day meme to celebrate all things leafy.

As the days grow shorter and the sun lower in the sky I become a little obsessed with light. There is a softness to the morning and evening light at this time of year that can make plants sing out in a way that boosts the spirits, and I am really enjoying having some silvery foliage in the garden, it’s adding a whole new dimension. Once again it is all about the euphorbias. The narrow leaflets of Euphorbia characias wulfenii seem to catch and reflect the low sunshine beautifully, the whole plant shimmers, a phenomena enhanced by the near-constant play of the wind.

Euphorbia characias wulfenii

The leaves of the Euphorbia myrsinites, on the other hand, cast wonderful shadows, creating a fabulous textured edge to the front of the fence border.

euphorbia myrsinites

I am still enjoying the contrasts between different forms, none more so that between the Anemanthele and the now-neghbouring phormium. I am so glad I moved it!


The pale creamy-yellow stripes in the phormium catch the light wonderfully, but I have so far totally failed to capture this on camera.

Elsewhere I am enjoying the sight of the foliage that will persist through winter, providing relief from bare soil and branches – including the Scorpion Vetch and the common, but to me still wonderful, Euphorbia amygdaloides robbiae.



The tiny seedlings of Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravens’ Wing’ have bulked out really well in the front garden, so I am really hoping that they will be back and flowering next year. In the mean time, I will enjoy the feathery purple foliage for as long as possible.


The weather has been so warm that there are very few signs of Autumn as yet, though the acer is just beginning to show signs of redder tints, and the Witch Hazel in the front garden is definitely starting to turn. There are lots of buds on the latter, so I am hoping for plenty of flowers come January.



I love living somewhere that has four such distinct seasons, and of all of them Autumn is, I think, my favourite. Something about the combination of the light, the sense of things slowing down, and yet at the same time the promise of a new beginning as represented by bulb planting and fattening buds on plants losing their leaves. Of course, come Spring, I’ll probably be saying that is my favourite season! It is definitely one of the two, I love the transitions. So I want to see the changing seasons played out in my garden, with plenty of dynamism from leaf colour, and later, stem colour. But being greedy, I also want plenty of interest during the winter months too, hence my desire to plant plenty of perennials with interesting seedheads to create good silhouettes against the sky. I’m excited about Verbena bonariensis, its still flowering at the moment – which I am not complaining about at all – but the seedheads, silhouetted against the sky, are going to be wonderful.


Even better is the fact that, impossible to capture on camera, I can nontheless see these same plants silhoutted against the sea from where I sit typing this in the back room, an excellent reason for keeping the door open! Not foliage, I know, but part of the winter architecture of my garden, I hope.

Thinking ahead to winter, I have added to my collection of grasses and sedges in the front garden by planting some of the Carex ‘Coman’s Bronze’ that I sowed this Spring. They are planted in amongst the feet of the Russian Sage, with Agastache rupestris. The agastache has the most wonderfully scented silvery foliage and gorgeous burnt orange flowers which pick up the colours in the carex, but over winter, the sedge will shimmer and dance in the wind and bounce golden light around. At least, that’s what it is going to do in my imagination – I know lots of people think they just look dead, but I really like the combination of bronze and silver with blue and purple, so I will be sowing more of the same seed next Spring too.


By then I will be getting excited about the crocus leaves poking their way up through the ground at the feet of the witch hazel, and looking out for signs of the narcissus I have planted – and hoepfully, later, the tulips and alliums assuming I get them in the ground! In the mean time I will be enjoying the foliage that is here now, whether it is about to drop and carpet the ground or will be staying around through the dark days of December and January. For more lovely foliage why not check out Christina’s blog, and the links there to other people’s leafy celebrations.

53 thoughts on “Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day October 2013

  1. Viva Euphorbias! And also, isn’t it nice we live in a climate with four seasons? OK, we’re always hoping for mild winters but each season has its own beauty that is to be appreciated.

    1. I would be really disappointed if the season all blurred in to one, I am finding the amazingly mild October rather disconcerting, because it just isn’t what I have come to expect! As to euphorbias, I still have plenty on my wishlist…

  2. Hi Janet, thank you for joining in GBFD this month, we have many of the same plants but they do look different in a different climate and different light. I like bronze grasses but have to say they really don’t work in my garden here in Italy; the surrounding countryside is golden yellow or even darker brown for so much of summer that the grasses do really ‘just’ look dead! But I think they work well with the lower English light.

    1. Hi Christina, it is always really interesting how different plants look in different lighting conditions – and different environments, even. I have noticed that plants I am familiar with seem to grow far more vigorously here, and even though I thought I had taken that in to account, there will be lots of moving around to provide the necessary breathing space for perennials to look their best next Spring! I wouldn’t want to be reminded of sun-scroched landscapes by planting carex if I lived where you do either – here, I think it works. Well, for me anyway, and that’s all I really care about!

  3. Interesting post, and terrific photos. I’ve always liked foliage, and it’s obviously more prominent over the coming months.
    I like autumn, and indeed spring, best. I’ve still to plant my tulips which I shall do on a nice day in early November. xx

    1. Hi Flighty, I do really relish the changing seasons. I will be planting my tulips in a few weeks too, the forecast is still mild here.

  4. More and more verbena bonariensis are popping up in my front garden bed. I hope they pop up again next. Some are still flowering and new self sown plants are emerging from between other plants too.

    1. Hi Sue, I am hoping mine will seed around too, though I plan to collect and sow seed as well just in case.

  5. Janet – I think you’ve got it spot on with the Euphoribias – they look great! I’ve recently planted the same Carex – I find with grasses and the likes – they look wonderful in other gardens but I never seem to find that in my own garden, so am unsure how long it will last!
    All looking good and like you my mind has been wandering off into the future and springward! Especially as this afternoon I noticed some Cyclamen foliage just beginning to appear where I planted an almost dead pot I picked up on sale for 50p at the beginning of the year.

    1. Hi Angie, I am really loving the euphorbias. I find grasses really difficult, I think more than any other type of plant you need to get to know them before you can really work out how to use them – that’s what I find anyway! You probably just don’t see all the mistakes all those people with lovely grasses made before they reached perfection;-) Fab result on the cyclamen front, it is so gratifying to nab bargain and bring a plant back from near death!

  6. Hi Janet,

    Lovely to see your garden still looking very much alive! Once good reason to live near the coast ;)

    Verbena often lasts for me until snow or hard frosts hit it – I’ve had it blooming in December, so I’m sure yours will be around a little longer yet. Also, Goldfinches will eat the seeds if the heads survive the winds!

    Muscari here are already poking their leaves up. I both love and hate that because it makes me hope we’ll skip winter and go straight to spring but know we’ve still got months to go before we’re there! heehee.
    Good luck with your bulb planting, I’m sure you will get it done – enjoy the nice weather while you can before it turns bad again! I need to get dressing some of the borders this week to try to clear the decking and also to protect for the coming winter.

    1. Hi Liz, I like the idea of December-blooming V.B.! I have mil and fil coming next week, so if we get decent weather I am sure they will help me get the last of the bulbs in – and I have the fallback of putting them in pots this year instead. Except the frits – I MUST have fritllaries in the wild bit of grass next year… Am glad to hear about the goldfinches, I stole the pampass grass that they loved so much last year because it looked terrible and kept tripping people up! Good luck with your clearing up – I need a trip to the tip to get my back garden tidy again.

  7. It’s got to be Spring for me. Everything is new and fresh and heralds lighter and warmer days to come. I am a recent convert to autumn and actually quite enjoyed it this year, but definitely don’t enjoy winter.
    Your witch hazel does appear promising, I love the euphorbias, but the verbena against the sea is so lovely. They are tougher than they look!

    1. Hi Jessica, I do love those vivid greens that you only get in Spring. I don’t actually mind winter, or not until February anyway. February always seems way too long, and the only solution is lots of hellebores and snowdrops!

  8. I also love the scent of Agastache foliage, though I grow Agastache foeniculum, which has a strong anise scent. Does A. rupestris also smell like anise?

    1. Hi Jason, yes it does, and I love it – which is only strange if you also know that I hate all things liquorice-like…

  9. You have some stunning foliage in your garden with some gorgeous colours. I too have Carex Comans Bronze and like it very much, be warned though, it is very free with its seeds! Verbena bonariensis is a favourite too, I have always left it to seed around but need more so I think I will have to save seed this year. I agree with you, living with four seasons is wonderful, we always have something to look forward to and enjoy.

    1. Hi Pauline, I love the shimmer to Coman’s Bronze. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that is self seeds with gay abandon, most things that are easy to grow from seed seem to do so. Thanks for the warning!

  10. I’m with you on grasses, Janet. I love anything that gives winter interest and the muted colours of grasses suit the season very well. This autumn seems to be suiting a lot of plants – I had the most glorious wander around the college gardens yesterday and saw the season in all its glory – including a wonderful display from the Which? gardens trial miscanthus bed (very Piet Oudolf!) and crabapple trees laden with fruit. Next I’ll be looking forward to morning frosts on plants and bulbs in spring – if the weather stays dry enough for me to get round to planting them!

    1. Hi Caro, did you take photos of the miscanthus trial bed?! I rather envy you your regular strolls around the college grounds, you must get so much inspiration from them. On the other hand, every time you do post photos of such walks I wind up adding yet more plants or plant combinations to my ever-expanding wishlist, which does nothing to aid me in my quest for a more coherent, limited to a few species planting style!!

      1. Yes, I did Janet! I had such a wonderful lot of photos after this week’s walk that I’ve decided to do a regular Capel Moment post. This week’s is of the Miscanthus trial bed, hope you like it!! The grasses are really tall this year but last year looked equally thrilling, just shorter! They’ve put on about 2 to 3 feet of growth this year! I’m saved from the temptation of adding all these plants to my wishlist as I get to see them every week; goodness knows how I’ll manage when my studying finally comes to a halt!

  11. A lovely celebration of Autumn! It has become one of my favorite seasons, too, though unfortunately it seems far too short in my area. The Euphorbias that caught my eye in your last post have done it again with all their different and striking foliage. The photo of the Verbena reaching up to the sky is beautiful! Let’s hope we both get all our tulips planted before winter comes:)

    1. Hi Rose, I suppose you will be getting genuinely cold weather quite soon – we still barely need the heating on, it is quite disconcerting to be walking down to the beach in a long sleaved T shirt! I have early November earmarked for tulip planting, but I would really like to get the fritillaries and last of the crocuses and alliums in before then.

  12. Oh those euphorbias are so tantalising Janet and oh so cruel when you suffer from skin allergies as I do. I can’t make my mind up between spring and autumn when it comes to a favourite season but I like the gentle slowing down of autumn, the softer light and its distinct aroma. I don’t like the thunder and torrential rain that we had earlier this afternoon though which put an abrupt end to my bulb planting activities :) Hope that you fared better.

    1. Sorry Anna, it is always horrid to fall for plants you know you can’t grow – I think I am still very much revelling in having milder climate, free-draining soil and full sun to play with, it makes all manner of plants possible for me that were only wistful envy before. Hope you escaped a total drenching – I need a couple of dry days so that I can tame the grass, which is verging on completely unkempt in the back garden!

  13. After hearing you waxing lyrical about euphorbia I am nearly tempted to grow them again – perhaps… You seem to have lots of lovely foliage – and a great clump of verbena. I wouldn’t say autumn is my favourite season, but I do agree with you about the benefits of having different seasons, indistinct though they may be.

    1. Hi Cathy, my only problem with the foliage is that – yet again – I have planted everything too close together. It is my besetting sin, and I create so much extra work for myself because of it! Still, this time it was partially planned since I knew I wanted to plant lots of bulbs under the perennials. Good luck with the euphorbias if you decide to try them again!

      1. I went through a phase a few years ago of loving euphorbia but then they began seeding themselves left right and centre so I dug them all out – I think I could cope with controlling the seedlings these days so I will give them another shot as they are great statement plants. I think we all want to fill in our gaps NOW, don’t we?!

  14. I love autumn too. There’s a lovely mix of shapes and colours here Janet, and I really do like that phormium next to the other grass. The verbena bonariensis is such a great shape too, but mine has so far only managed to set seed in the middle of our path!

    1. Hi Cathy, that is the downside to these self-seeders, they generally show no consideration to us gardeners! I think we need a cold snap to get the colour changing really going here, but wth a big storm forecast I fear we will just lose all the leaves before they get a chance to light up the landscape.

  15. How beautiful that first euphorbia is… and the cares (and, of course, the things in-between). I’ve been having a bit of downer on euphorbias myself, but I am clearly going to have to rethink. This focus on the leaves is so useful – thanks….

    (Must join this meme, it would make me look differently)

    1. Hi Kate, I am utterly besotted with euphorbias at the moment, something to do with the way the light strikes them at this time of year I think. I can thoroughly recommend the meme, it really does force you to view things from a different perspective. Why the euphorbia downer? Which euphorbias?

      1. I used to have a lot, and I think I just got bored (I also got fed up spending every visit home helping my Ma rip up her E. robbiae). But I’ve got an anonymous lime-green beauty which I still like, though it’s in for a move. Maybe I just need to be more diverse. And avoid robbiae

  16. Oh, euphorbias! I just love them, but have killed several here. :( I think I overwater them. Maybe I can try again in a different area of the garden. Love the verbena bonariensis. Funny that winter hasn’t come yet, and we gardeners are already looking forward to spring!

    1. Hi Holley, we’re a weird lot aren’t we, always looking forwards, to seasons or even years to come! I am really enjoying having the conditions to grow more euphorbias. The joysof better drainage and a maritime climate!

  17. Janet I love all your gorgeous foliage especially the silvery foliage against the yellow/reds. So much to enjoy as the seasons move on…spring will soon be here and we will be swooning again over the first flowers.

    1. Hi Donna, I do so enjoy the transitions between the seasons – and the looking forward to Spring as I plant bulbs!

  18. I have to admit I love spring and early summer best, but I have enjoyed the warm, sunny autumn days we’ve had here recently. I’m in no hurry to see cold, frosty mornings ! Your verbena does look striking against the sky; I’m determined to plant more here next year. I’m looking forward to seeing your Witch Hazel in January, too!
    I hope the storm hasn’t been bad where you are.

    1. Hi Wendy, I could do with a few dry days before the frosts arrive, so many chores to catch up with outside now that the visitors have gone. We’ve been lucky with the storm, it past us by.

  19. Lots of lovely foliage. Our Acer ‘Garnet’ is similarly still un-turned, though I see a few hints of glowing red that suggest it will blaze soon.
    Love those Euphorbias. I came across a lovely combination this weekend of E.myrsinites with a small dark-leaved-and-flowered sedum which was really striking.
    I love how late V. bonariensis flowers – the splashes of purple are still lifting our borders here too. Last year’s structural seedheads gave us millions of new seedlings this spring, though, absolutely carpeting the borders. A nice invasion, I hadn’t expected it to self-seed here quite so prolifically! Easy to pull up fistfuls where they aren’t wanted though; just as well, or we’d have a forest!

    1. Oooh a forest of Verbena bonariensis – I can think of worst things! My myrsinites is growing alongside sedum ‘Purple Emperor’ which I am guessing gives a similar effect, but I keep posting photos of the sedum so I thought I would give them a break. I think the acer is very gradually colouring up, when I “happen” upon it suddenly I am surprised at the richness of the colour, so not long I hope. Or do I – so much to do still, I don’t want it to get really cold yet!!

  20. I have verbena b., too and I’ve never thought much about their silhouettes. Thanks for the fresh perspective! I added more euphorbia to my garden this fall and hope they make it through the winter. I love the shot of the vebena b. silhouetted against the sky. Beautiful!

    1. Hi, I’ve never seen verbena b. silhouetted like that either, but it has certainly given me more ideas, it looks great, doesn’t it! And hopefully will carry on looking great even once the flowers are over, assuming it stands up to the storms OK. Good luck with your euphorbias – I will be keeping a close eye on mine too, it being my first real year of living here and believing in the zonal information enough to plant accordingly…

  21. I find it difficult to choose a favourite season, I love them all! But the light in the autumn is so special and makes the photos look so much better. Loved all your plants and especially the Euphorbia, and my Acer palmatum looks the same as yours right now. I have tulips to plant too, we might not have started winter yet, but spring is not that far away, my irises have already started poking their leaves through the ground.

    1. Hi Helene, I suspect I might be claiming spring as my favourite season once we get there – but although I enjoy both summer and winter, I don’t think I ever claim them as my favourite. Can’t believe your irises are already popping up!

  22. this post was one of the most exhilerating which goes to show that foliage is the be all and end all of a garden – blooms, scents etc are the icing on a magnificent cake! You’ve got Autumn fever and its contagious – the camera has caught on! that Euphorbia is a real zonker as is the phormium but have been poked in the eye too many times to regard them with anything else but distance

    1. Thanks Laura! I’m realising more and more that it is when I get the balance and contrast between foliage working well that I feel happiest with a border, been thinking a lot about that today as I have been day-dreaming about what to plant in the front bit of the front garden. I do know what you mean about pokey phormiums, I had one in my last garden that used to get me quite regularly – this one is planted right at the back, I’ll just have to be careful when weeding around it.

  23. You really do have some lovely foliage there! There’s so much to be said for it isn’t there. I’ve become so much more attuned to it since the GBFD posts. I must say I do love your black fence too!! :)

    1. Hi Anna, the GBFD posts are great for spotting good foliage plants, I’ve learnt loads. And thank you, I love the fence too, I’ll love it even more once I finish it!!

Comments are closed.

Back To Top