I am celebrating foliage along with Christina, and many others. There is a lot of foliage that is making me smile at the moment. There is a little corner in the back garden, next to the two greenhouses, that makes me smile every time I walk past it. Some of this is due to the pairing of a pink dicentra with the saxifrage ‘London Pride’. I can’t claim this is the result of expert planning on my part, as when I planted the dicentra I hadn’t seen the saxifrage flower, but it does work perfectly.

The greenhouse corner bed

The flower combination is lovely, but it is the foliage that really makes this corner for me, and this will last far longer than the blooms. The purple beech and the bright green of the dicentra, the different but complimentary leaf shapes, they make the perfect picture, to my eyes at least.

purple beech and dicentra

I have something approaching an obsession with purple foliage, and today I received a plant delivery from Claire Austin Hardy Plants that included Actaea simplex ‘Black Negligé’.

actaea simplex black neglige

I plan to plant it near the beech, where it will pick up the purple theme and help stretch it across the back border to the acer corner and beyond. We have taken to putting the hammock stand in this corner, it has become pleasantly secluded since we moved the greenhouse, and I am hoping that even I will be able to smell the scent.

That contrast between the purple beech and the bright green dicentra is actually echoed on the other side of the back garden, where a purple hazel is planted alongside a Griselliana.

Corylus avellana maxima Purpurea
hazel with grisellinia

I want to use this same contrast to help knit the acer in to the garden, and the lovely Cathy@Rambling in the Garden not only sent me some Geranium phaeum recently, she added a Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’, which was a wonderful surprise. They are all potted up in the greenhouse at the moment to put on some strong root growth ready to be planted out later this month.

persicaria red dragon

geranium phaeum

The baby persicaria leaf is already showing the distinctive chevron markings.

I love the fact that already my garden is full of plants with stories behind them, gifts that remind me of people, like the Potentilla recta ‘Sulphurea’ from Sara@Hillwards

potentilla recta sulphurea

…and the Echinops ritro seedlings from Gardening Sil.

echinops ritro

This foliage delights because not only are the leaves beautiful in their own right, but they conjure up thoughts of the people who gave the plants to me too. I have given plants to Gardening Sil before, from my old garden, and look forward to being able to share plants from this garden with her and others in years to come. For now, it is fantastic to have more plants to add to the developing borders here, and to be reminded of how very generous gardeners are.

Another source of delight is when I see foliage from plants I have grown from seed start to make a statement in the garden. I didn’t grow any silver foliage plants in my old garden, but here, particularly in the front, it cries out for the shimmer of sun on silver. I was very happy to discover how easy Stachys byzantia is to grow from seed, and unlike lots of plants they bulk up quickly too. Probably a problem in the future, and it was a pain having to pot them on into 2l pots becuase I hadn’t managed to enlarge the border they were moving in to yet, but I do love the tactile leaves.

stachys byzantia

I am also loving the sculptural leaves of Crambe maritima, also grown from seed, and am hoping that eventually they will make a big statement in the front garden.

crambe maritima

I inherited a large stand of white lychnis when we moved here, and used clumps of the seedlings to fill the large gaps in the front garden borders while I wait for other plants – or my wallet – to bulk up, but I also sowed seed for the magenta form given to me by my friend L. I’ve not seen her for a couple of years, but I can’t wait to at least be able to send her photos of the plants in full bloom, again, so lovely to have a reminder of a friend. In the mean time the foliage is rather wonderful, ladybirds love to hide in it, and the upright form is proving to be an excellent disguise for the tulip foliage.


ladybird on lychnis

There is far too much lychnis at the moment, but there are worse things to have too much of.

I’m quite used to growing plants from seed nowadays, although I still get my fair share of failures. Cuttings, however, have always been a bit tricky, so I am thrilled to have 5 more Anthemis tinctoria ‘E. C. Buxton’ to plant out, the feathery leaves a wonderful foil for the Stipa tenuissima that creates such wonderful movement in the front garden, with the added benefit of bee-friendly flowers for months through the summer. It has encouraged me to get on and try more cuttings, once I get the propagator relocated into the greenhouse.


Plants with attractive leaves are wonderful, but it is even better when they mix well with others. The Eryngium yuccifolium I planted last year is really starting to take off now, and works really well in front of the Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Blue Spire’ that is starting to fill out too.

eryngium yuccifolium

Hopefully I will be able to take root cuttings from this in the Autumn, or should I wait until next Spring? I’ve only propagated Japanese Anenomes from root cuttings before, so all advice gratefully received…

…as is the name of this euphorbia, which has seeded itself alongside some native primroses to great effect.

euphrobia and primrose

I’ll finish with rain on Lady’s Mantle

alchemilla mollis

a felicitous combination of aquilegia foliage and ophiophogon

aquilegia with ophiophogon

one of the may dryopteris flourishing in the back garden – common, yes, but still stunning


and the utterly delightful foliage of Sorbus vilmorinii.

sorbus vilmorinii

Do check out Christina’s blog for more foliage celebrations.

37 thoughts on “Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day May 2014

  1. Fantastic Janet! Thank you for joining in this month; you ave some wonderful combinations and I do agree about the memories that plants can spark of friends, family or places. Even seed bought in an unusual location canbring back happy memories of a holiday or day out. I wanted to pick something I particularly liked, but am a bit stumped as to what to choose. Maybe your first image with the purple beech, dicentra and London Pride; a combination that will give pleasure for months to come, in the front garden purple and silver foliage will also look fabulous with the sea in the background. Christina

    1. its a pleasure Christina, I always enjoy focusing on foliage. I sowed some poppy seeds from Gardening Sil the other day, and the first are just germinating, something else with a story, They are a deep purple colour so should work wonderfully with the silver foliage, as you said, and if I add some deep purples irises for next year I will get those wonderful vertical accents too!

    1. Hi Sue, I am looking forward to seeing how the potentilla develops, it is new to me – as are most of the sun lovers I am growing here.

    1. Hi Marian, happy hunting! Glad my accidental combination has inspired imitation, wish I could take full credit for how well it works.

  2. That purple beech is outstanding, and it does contrast so nicely with its neighbors. The purple hazel is also lovely. I agree with you that the Dryopteris is stunning – something about that particular shade of green. I’m familiar with Stachys but have not seen Lychnis before – it makes another fine silver-leaved plant.

    1. Hi Jason, it is a rather wonderful tree, isn’t it, though I have to keep it carefully pruned to avoid the greenhouse and let us get to the oil tank. The lycnhis is a great plant for early summer colour, which is good because that is a time of year I always struggle with, I love the later flowering perennials so much I tend to cram my borders with them and forget about May-June. The dryopteris is a wonderful shape at any time during spring and summer, but this is definitely when it is at its best, that fresh green of spring is unbeatable.

  3. You have so much lovely foliage Janet, love the purple beech with the green of the dicentra. All your silvers add another dimension. Your fern is so beautiful, it might be the common one, but it is still lovely and contrasts with anything near it. You have done so much since you moved in, you must be so pleased with the way your garden is taking shape!

    1. Hello Pauline, I do really like the way the fern seems to accentuate anything it is planted near, and am very happy to have lots of it, it really helps to add a sense of cohesion, and all for free! I am loving being able to play around with silvery foliage, I never had the sun for it in my last garden, it adds a really interesting dimension. And thank you, yes, I am beginning to feel quietly chuffed that I am making progress. Lots to smile at, and yet still so much scope for more plants. Pretty perfect really!

  4. Lots of lovely foliage. I love your fern.
    I love red leaves too, the Actaea is fabulous and so is your copper beech. Do you know Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’? It is a wonderful red leaved shrub.
    I think your Euphorbia is Euphorbia cyparissias which is lovely but watch out, it is very invasive.

    1. Hi Chloris, thank you for the reminder about Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’, I’ve never grown it but it does look like a splendid plant. I’ll have to think about whether I have room, since I must have a Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’, one of my all time favourite plants. Thank you too for the euphorbia ID, sounds as if I will need to keep a close eye on it as it can be a brute. Was wondering about adding it to the front garden, but I think it will spread even more easily there as the soil is lighter, so perhaps not!

  5. Beautiful shots of some stunning foliage combinations. I was being over-run by Lychnis self seeding all over the place, so I assiduously deadheaded for a couple of years. Now I am missing them…never satisfied.

    1. Thanks Ricki, I think Lychnis is one of those plants that needs ruthless control or it takes over. It has been really useful this year, but I think I will need to reduce its numbers quite drastically from next year on. Let me know if you would like some seed to grow them again, I am sure I will have plenty ;-)

  6. Lots of interesting plants, as usual, Janet ! Loving the Crambe Maritima, which I have not come across before, only Cordifolia , which is great in all senses of the word! I don’t know the variety of the little Euphorbia, but I do know the little rascal, as it is galloping through my borders as we speak ! I love it, but it has its own plans for world dominance!!

    1. Thanks Jane, I really like the sound of C. cordifolia but I wasn’t sure where to put it that I wouldn’t find it too large. I agree about the rampaging nature of the euphorbia, a pretty pest. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

  7. You have a lovely collection of foliage plants as always Janet, and so nice to know some came from the generosity of other bloggers. Would love to send you a few bits and pieces too if you give us the chance ;) the copper beech looks sumptuous with colouring like that, accentuated perfectly by its companions. Copper beech I think makes a lovely specimen plant in a border.

    1. Hi guys. Hmm, lets think about this… Send address to receive plants… Consider my address on its way! Thank you! I was thrilled to find a copper beech in the garden, I love beech trees anyway, but the copper one is such a glorious sight when in full leaf. We have one in the front garden too, which makes a lovely focal point – or will do once the rubbish around it has been cleared…

  8. You’ve got an absolutely fabulous mix of shapes and colours there Janet! I love all the purples, and think it’s a great idea to extend the purple theme across the garden to the acer. I really love that Euphorbia/Primrose combination too!

    1. Hello Cathy, thank you, I do have a bit of an addiction where purple foliage is concerned. Purple flowers too, come to that! The euphorbia/primrose combo really makes me smile, some of these happenstance combinations are really wonderful.

  9. had gone off the D.spectablis pink until I saw your accidental mix with London pride – a very good foil for its err …pinkness. By contrast your fingers have become ever more nurturing with the greenhouse facility as evidenced by the response of your seedlings. Am most interested in the silvery, textures of your foliage Janet as they do sparkle in sunshine hence alien to me here in the shade. The Crambe will gel very well with your front garden view.

    1. Hi Laura, I know what you mean, it is so very, very, pink, it was a spur of the moment purchase encouraged by fil, who loves it, but I have become very fond, and now plan to add Geranium phaeum alongside to help calm it down a little, and have a white version to echo the from but get away from the lipstick side. The cedar greenhouse seems to be ideal for raising seedlings, it is partially shaded so never gets too hot, and apart from the odd aphid infestation – and the leaking roof – it is all trouble free. The silvery foliage is a delight, I have never had the soil or the sun levels to be able to indulge before, but they are such fun plants to play with. The Lamb’s Ears is one of those things I have looked at and admired for years but never been able to grow, it was such a bonus to find that it comes so easily from seed.

    1. Hi Frances, I do enjoy growing things from seed, even though lots of things fail there are always enough successes to keep me going, and it is a cheap way to achieve that coherence that comes from repeating plants.

  10. A most enjoyable, and interesting, post and photos.
    As you know I like foliage thanks to the colours and form variations which you illustrate so well in your pictures. At the moment my plot favourite is the bright green feathery love-in-a-mist foliage. xx

    1. Thank you Flighty, I am particularly enjoying all the contrasting textures of the silvery leaved plants at the moment, I think perhaps because I have never been able to grow them before. I keep forgetting to sow my nigella seed, but yes, the foliage is beautiful isn’t it, and I love the seedheads too.

  11. I’ve bit of a thing with purple foliage and now have way too much in 1 corner. Loving the Dicentra, Beech and Saxifraga combo – they look striking together.
    I do like the Crambe my conditions are a bit too moist for it however. What a gorgeous Dryopteris too – can you ever have enough ferns, eh no!
    Hope you are having a dry weekend.

    1. Hi Angie, glad you like my dicentra-saxifrage corner, you have so many lovely saxifrages in your garden, they were never anything I had grown before coming here and inheriting ‘London Pride’, but I can certainly see myself adding more, particularly in the front garden. I could never have grown the crambe in my previous garden, the soil was heavy clay, it is lovely to have a different palette of plants to play with here. As to ferns, can’t get enough of them, certainly want to buy some contrasting companions for my dryopterises (drypoterisi?!)

  12. Oh I do like all those purples too Janet. Having seen your actaea I’m tempted – I’ve resisted mainly because the name ‘Black Negligee’ makes me cringe :) I have a couple of other actaeas
    though and am most fond of them. Have forgotten just how soft lamb’s ears are and what a brilliant plant they are for children. I’ve a small cutting of physocarpus as mentioned by Chloris which you would be more than welcome to.

    1. Hi Anna, it is a ghastly name for a plant, isn’t it, but I was seduced by the foliage and the promise of scent from white bottlebrushes. I have nephews and nieces visiting in a couple of weeks, wonder if they will like stroking the Lamb’s Ear’s? Thank you for the physocarpus cutting offer, yes please, it would be a lovely addition. Do you have my address already? I can’t remember. Let me know if not and I will send it. I love how my garden is getting filled out with bloggers’ generosity and skill.

  13. So glad the persicaria and geranium are settling in – the lychnis you gave me is happy too although I don’t recollect you telling me how invasive it could be….! Isn’t it wonderful growing things from seed – particularly bigger or chunkier plants like stachys and crambe which emphasise the marvels of nature, all that growth from a tiny seed. You have some lovely dark foliage – not something I have at all – particular a copper beech of your very own!

    1. Invasive?! Surely not! Just very happy to be there ;-) Geraniums and persicaria currently hardening off. I can’t believe I gardened for so long without realising how much fun coulkd be had from a packet of seed, particularly when you grow something to eat or a perennial that will be cwith you for years. Addictive.

  14. I’m a big fan of purple too. I planted a copper beech last year and am hoping it survived. There’s some limelight hydrangea close to it and I love how the purple gives an added boost to lighter plants and flowers around it.

    1. Purple does seem to bring out the best in other plants, doesn’t it. Hope your beech survives and thrives. I imagine you will be able to allow it to grow free and natural, without having to constrain its size, which will be wonderful.

  15. Such a wide variety of lush foliage that anyone would be smitten with….love the colors from bronze to blue-green and shiny, to thick to fuzzy. Beautiful combos.

    1. Hello Donna, thank you, I am rather smitten with foliage, particularly with good contrasts. I now want to experiment with silvery leaves with purple. Must get my thinking cap on!

  16. Ah I keep hankering for some London Pride, and your pictures make me want it even more! Some lovely foliage there, I love having plants with a story in the garden too. Hope that you enjoy the potentilla(s).

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