It was a tad windy here yesterday.


The tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo swept through, bringing impressively wild weather. I was very happy that we didn’t have a boat in the harbour – or on the beach – and delighted that I had taken photos of some of the autumn leaves in the front garden. There aren’t be many leaves left now! So here is a peak at the lovely autumn foliage of the Witch Hazel in the front garden – before the gales…


But it is Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, kindly hosted by Christina, and I want to celebrate the wonderful foliage of my newest acquisitions. I blame Kate for these, in that I was meeting her to talk about a website and we just happened (!) to meet at Fron Goch, which just happens to be a rather splendid garden center. There were many wonderful plants, and I had a fern and a heuchera on my list to get anyway. I chose the rather lovely deep purple-black ‘Obsidion’ heuchera, seen here setting off the bright green fronds of a Osmunda regalis fern.


The glistening near-black leaves of the heuchera are a perfect foil for the Heuchera ‘Venus’ I bought at Bluebell Cottage Nursery a couple of months ago.

Heuchera 'Venus'

I stupidly planted an honesty plant in the middle, but I want to swap it with the heuchera to make the most of the contrast in colour between the two heucheras and the Geranium phaeum that Cathy kindly sent me.


The fern has been planted by the tree stump in the back corner of the Park border, but I haven’t managed to take a decent photo of it. It should grow to over a meter (3′) and the pale foliage should pick up the colour of the bright green Griselinia and make a good contrast to the yellow stemmed dogwood. I am looking forward to planting more ferns in that corner, but I want to do some research, and another soil ph test, as I am continually drawn to the acid-loving ferns I know from my previous garden, wherease here I have at best neutral and often positively alkaline soil.

So far so deliciously good, but the real star buy was the Nandina domestica ‘Terracotta’. I had actually pounced on a rather pretty – and bargain price – acer, but I kept being drawn to the so-called ‘Heavenly Bamboo’, and Kate helped me decide to plump for it instead, as even I couldn’t persuade myself I had room for both…


Who could resist such beautiful leaves?! I just hope it continues to colour well for me in the Autumn, despite it being rather milder here. But honestly, I have wanted a nandina for ages, they are such pretty plants, with delicate foliage, great autumn colour, pretty flowers, and then berries. And evergreen! A real all-season plant, and ideal for giving a dose of evergreen interest in the Park border, amongst the deciduous trees and shrubs.



I think I may need to get another ‘Obsidian’, to plant near the nandina, because just look at this contrast:


Here is the nandina in its new home in the Park border. I can see it from the study window, singing out alongside the yellow stemmed dogwood. I am pleased to plant next to the mahonia, not just because it goes well with the golden yellow flowers, but because the leaf contrast works really well. I hadn’t realised the two were related.


I’ll finish with a slideshow of leaves – and a few flowers – many taken before the gales ripped the leaves off the plants. Do check out the links on Christina’s blog post to other foliage celebrations!

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47 thoughts on “GBFD October 2014: Blazing

  1. Thanks for joining in this month with some sumptuous colour. I actually had to dash outside and check the colour of my Nandinas after seeing the wonderful colour of yours. Mine does colour in winter (but not yet!). It is a wonderful plant, it has it all and is drought tolerant, what more could you ask. Mine is putting on some flowers now and the berries are still coral coloured rather than deep red yet. I do think you should buy another H. Obsidian, you’re right it looks fabulous with the Nandina as does (in a different way) Iris Kent Pride.

    1. A pleasure Christina, I’m just glad I managed to capture the witch hazel leaves before they all blew off! I am definitely going to have to get another ‘Obsidian’, and I rather like the idea of iris too. I can see that ‘Kent Pride’ would work wonderfully well, though for now I might have to make do with moving some plain yellow flag iris that are currently languishing in a corner by the compost bins.

  2. That nandina was definitely the right thing to get!

    I cannot believe how beautiful it looks – absolutely stunning (and yes, you do need to get another heuchera). The stormy weather was pretty impressive too; should have taken a leaf (ha) out of your book and done some photography first.

    1. Wasn’t it just! It looks even better in situ than I had dared hope, am very happy! That persicaria we both succumbed to looks mighty fine too. I’ve not planted the bulbs yet though…

      The storm was rather more impressive than I had been expecting, the seas were enormous, albeit not quite storm surge levels.

  3. Lovely photos Janet and great to see some updates on your garden again. I’m glad Gonzalo’s presence was short lived, albeit he still made his presence known. The autumn colours on most of your photos are sumptuous, rich and shows why autumn is special in its own right.

    1. Thanks guys! I am pleasantly surprised that there is as much autumn colour to enjoy given the dry and crispy look most of the local trees are sporting. It was good to showcase the actual garden again, I really must get my act together and post about the front garden again too, changes are afoot…

  4. It sure was a wild day yesterday. That’s a wonderful selection of autumnal pictures, with the raindrops visible in some adding a slightly magical touch. xx

    1. It was rather wild wasn’t it Flighty, the sea was an amazing sight. Glad you enjoyed the photos, raindrops sometimes make the colours seem even richer somehow.

  5. I love storm-watching, but it does wreak havoc with the leaves’ last tenuous hold. I lost a Nandina, but you have reminded me just how special it is…replacement time.

    1. Hi Rickii, sorry you lost a nandina, they are rather wonderful plants, I have wanted one for years but could never quite work out where to put one in my previous garden. Enjoy replacing yours!

  6. Not just you… every time I see Nandina on a blog I want one. Next year I must actually try and track one down. The foliage colour of Terracotta is sublime.
    Oh my goodness, that sea! I did read that N Wales was particularly bad. Think you just proved it.

    1. Hi Jessica, isn’t it funny how some plants just do that to you! The sea was pretty spectacular, we don’t normally get storms like that until much later in the year.

  7. you were more sensible than I was getting the photos before the storm, you have some beautiful foliage Janet, and some lovely contrasts, I very much like the dark leaved Heucheras and yours make a lovely folio for your other plants, Frances

    1. Hi Frances, it was touch and go on the photographs, between the wind and the rain before the storm even arrived! I really love ‘Obsidian’, it is a lovely plant, and I will definitely be saving up for more…

  8. Nandina is one of my favorites — such delicate leaves and beautiful shadings of color. I have a soft spot for plants that look airy and fragile but are really as tough as all get-out. (Able to withstand hurricane force winds, too, apparently!) I love that top photo — but then, wind is easy to love when you’re inside a sturdy building. Glad you didn’t have a boat to worry about this time!

    1. Hi Stacy, I know exactly what you mean about tough plants with delicate-looking foliage, and nandina is exactly that. Watching the sea during storms – actually, at any time – is one of the great joys of living here. Even walking to the pharmacy is touched with magic when you can dawdle and gaze at the sand and waves for a while on your way. I am a very lucky girl. And yes, it is good to have the boat safely on the drive!

  9. Hi Janet, Your Nandina choice is beautiful, I do not know why I had not considered it before for my own garden, I love that its also a plant for all seasons, so really earns its keep. It looks really good with your Heuchera too.

    1. Hi Julie, I don’t really understand why nandina isn’t more used, perhaps because it has a reputation for being slightly tender? I think it is a wonderful garden plant though, I’d certainly urge anyone with the conditions to find a space for one, even if in a pot.

  10. Oh your nandina is most fabulous Janet – Kate is obviously a lady with discerning taste. I have more than a touch of I wantititis. The tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo was rather wild on the Mersey estuary so I shudder to think what it must have been like in your neck of the woods. You did well to take your photos before the leaves went flying.

    1. Hi Anna, Kate does indeed have good taste, though I do still wish I had room for both, the acer was such a bargain! The winds were exciting, as was the sea, hope you didn’t collect any damage.

  11. You can’t go wrong with ferns and heucheras! I too am totally enamoured with your nandina, particularly after having admired the berries which two people used in their vases last Monday – and as I DO have space for a shrub in my already filling-up shrub border I need to look into it post haste, particularly in terms of size. So pleased your G phaeum is dong well (and hope the Dragon is too…) – what was the other persicaria you acquired?

    1. Hi Cathy, I’ve just blogged about ‘Red Draon’, which is doing splendidly thank you, and do get a nandina for your new shrub border, it is a truly wonderful plant. And goes well with heuchers and ferns… The other persicaria was ‘Blackfields’, a real beauty.

  12. The Nandina probably wouldn’t be hardy enough here, but isn’t it lovely! A good decision Janet! Love that almost black Heuchera too. It contrasts so well with both pale greens and reddish tinges. You definitely need a second one! ;-)
    It’s been a little breezy here too, to say the least, but a lot of leaves are still hanging on.

    1. Hi Cathy, hope you survived the winds, shame the nandina wouldn’t survive in your neck of the woods, I a loving it even more now that it has been in place for a while. Likewise the heuchera, I definitely need more of that one.

  13. What an amazing sea picture. That was quite a storm. I love your new Heuchera, I haven’ t seen that lovely dark Obsidian before. Your Nandina is gorgeous too. Mine hasn’ t coloured at all yet.

    1. Hi Chloris, ‘Obsidian’ is a real winner, thoroughly recommended. I love the sea when it gets as rough as that, partuclarly when I get to admire it in the sunshine, all too often it is only like that in the middle of horizontal rain!

  14. I added a Nandina to my garden last year and am quite pleased with it. You may just have given me some inspiration with your Nandina/Mahonia combo. I’ve a M. Soft Caress that’s been stuck in a pot since last year and I really need to get it in the ground. I wonder if I can shoe horn it in there somewhere.
    Obsidian is a lovely Heuchera, hope it likes it’s new home. I found it a fussy one. Binoche is another lovely dark colour.
    The first picture is such a dramatic scene. Although I had a wee grumble about the wind, I think there were others far worse off that we were up here. Lucky that you thought to take some shots before it hit.

    1. Hi Angie, I am after a ‘Soft Caress’ (?!) too, but wouldn’t it be too much delicate foliage next to one another, putting it alongside a nandina? I nrealy planted my nandina beside a fatsia for the foliage contrast but decided I wanted it by the dogwood instead. I hope ‘Obsidian’ doesn’t prove fussy here, I love it.

  15. Amazing shot of the roiling sea! It looks so full of life and also so capable of damage. Your Nandina “Terracotta” just knocks me out! After living in Italy so many years, I’m crazy about that shade and have worked so hard to get it just right on the dining room walls. It’s so warm and rich. You are right…..who can resist that color. Stunning.

    1. Hello Susan, thank you, the sea was particularly roiling that day, it was a good reminder that the sea is indeed capable of massive damage. The Nandina is a stunning colour, I think it looks even better now, it just sits in the corner of the border like a frothy beacon, I love it.

  16. Your friend Kate sounds like my good friend Beckie–I call her the plant enabler:) But it doesn’t take much to convince me to buy another Heuchera; I don’t think I’ve met a Heuchera I didn’t like! Yours are so pretty; I love the contrasting foliage they provide. Such lovely foliage, too, on your nandinas. The sea looks quite angry in the first photo–great picture!

    1. Hi Rose, yes, Kate is definitely a plant enabler – but she does have good taste! I’m not so keen on the orange heucheras, but the black ones, those I love, and I really like the green and silver one I found, and I have seen a lime green one I rather like too, so I am also a fan and can see more being added here over the next few years.

  17. Yes, the Nandina is a stunner! Sounds like you’ve been pursuaded to make some fabulous purchases. I hope the wind doesn’t get too nasty–that can be frightening and frustrating. But maybe it’s normal for you this time of year? Great foliage post!

    1. Hi Beth, the nandina is a real beauty, I love the way it has completed that little corner. The winds aren’t particularly unusual for round here, perhaps a little early, and more surprising because it is still so mild. I dont find wind scary, which is fortunate, given where we live, but I am very glad we moved the greenhouse, as I did used to worry about that.

  18. Yes, the Nandina is a stunner! Sounds like you’ve been pursuaded to make some fabulous purchases. I hope the wind doesn’t get too nasty–that can be frightening and frustrating. But maybe it’s normal for you this time of year? Great foliage post! (Sorry if this is a duplicate. For some reason, WordPress comments are giving me some difficulty lately.)

  19. The sea looks fantastic , I love it when it is wild. As long as no one is out on it of course!
    Lovely new plants – I applaud your choice of Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ ! I have had a couple for about a year and they have performed so well, they are quite strong growers and the leaves stay glossy and dark dark dark!

    1. Hi Jane, I too love a wild sea, it is one of the joys of living here that I can sit indoors in comfort and watch it, though I prefer to get down to the wall and risk the spray, it is so envigorating. Am really pleased to hear that you have found ‘Obsidian’ a good heuchera, Angie’s comments about it had me worried, I hope my experience is more like yours.

  20. Janet I am glad you didn’t have damage from the storm and boy look at those waves. I finally uncovered my witch hazel and it is lovely now. Love the color of yours. I don’t usually see nandina so I was delighted to see yours with all its fall finery in berries and leaves of red. Really lovely.

    1. Hi Donna, glad you have re-discovered your witch hazel, they are lovely plants. Mine is now bare of leaves, but has enough buds to make me feel I should get a decent show in a couple of months, despite the long dry spell.

  21. I find red leaves on plants and bushes a bit unreal, however attractive they are. The droopy witch hazel at the top is the kind of foliage I find most heart lifting.

    1. Hi Lucy, I think I know what you mean about red foliage, though it is clearly something nature favours at times, for whatever reason. I’m always going to have quite a bit at this time of year because I love purple foliage, and it tends to go red in autumn if deciduous. My own personal pet hate is where the new foliage is one colour and the more established a different colour, leading to an untidy sort of piebald effect… That and most forms of variegation. Oh, and those marmalade coloured heucheras that seem to be everywhere nowadays…

    1. Isn’t it! Evergreen, I believe, but still wonderful shades of orange at the moment, I adore it.

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