Tag Archive: variegated leaves


Sedum 'Chocolate Drop'- the foliage as attractive as the flower- and what a combination!

Sedum ‘Chocolate Drop’- the foliage as attractive as the flower- and what a combination!

We tend to think a lot – some of us almost entirely – about flower colour when we consider planting in the garden. Leaves last far longer than blooms, so why not go for a combination of flower and foliage that will add texture to flower colour and shape?

Some leaves are striped, others marbled or speckled, while others range from purple, silver and blue, to butter-yellow or lime-green. Geranium (Cranesbill) and succulent-leaved Sedum are good examples of plants that pack a punch with their leaves, as do Hostas and Lamium.

Stipa gigantea- wonderful

Stipa gigantea- wonderful

You can creat a soft, billowing effect with plants that have feathery foliage, such as Bronze Fennel, or those with masses of leaflets, such as Aquilegia and many of the ferns. Ornamental grasses can also be used to soften displays; many are particularly useful because they are drought tolerant. I grow several here at Old School Garden, and I love the variety they add to a herbaceous border with an evergreen structure of shrubs; Stipa gigantea is especially lovely when the late afternoon sunlight catches its stalks and waving awns.

From flower to seedpod- Agapanthus

From flower to seedpod- Agapanthus

To sum up….

  • Blend foliage plants with flowering ones to keep the border looking at its best over the longest possible time.

  • Combine foliage and flowers that contrast with each other in colour,shape and texture.

  • Use plants with ornamental seed pods, such as Agapanthus, Feathery grass heads, such as Pampas grass and evergreen foliage.

  • Use plants with variegated leaves, such as striped, blotched and marbled, to their full advantage.

  • Choose flowering plants that have attractive foliage, such as Alchemilla mollis and geranium so that they add interest to the border over several months.

Hostas are usually grown for their foliage- which comes in all sorts of patterns and hues, but the flowers can also be very attractive

Hostas are usually grown for their foliage- which comes in all sorts of patterns and hues, but the flowers can also be very attractive

Source: ‘Short Cuts to Great Gardens’- Reader’s Digest, 1999

Old School Gardener

 

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All-green leaves are starting to poke through the variegated ones ('Reversion')

All-green leaves are starting to poke through the variegated ones (‘Reversion’)

Don’t let Green shoots dominate variegated trees or shrubs

Variegated trees and shrubs – those whose leaves are attractively streaked, striped, edged or splashed with another colour, such as white or yellow-  usually originate as a variegated shoot on a normal green plant. They have to be propagated from cuttings to keep the variegation.

Variegated plants are not always stable, and some shoots can revert to the original green. This often occurs, for instance, with the popular evergreen shrub Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ and with variegated box elders (Acer negundo). the green reverting shoots contain more green colouring (chlorophyll) and produce more food for growth. this makes them more vigourous than variegated ones, so green shoots will eventually overtake variegated growth in size and vigour if they are not removed.

Remove reverting shoots as soon as they arr seen by cutting them back to wood with the variegated foliage. This often means removing entire shoots.

Occasionally shoots will change to entirely cream or yellow leaves, but because of the lack of green colouring they often grow weakly and so are less of a problem.

Source: ‘RHS Wisley Experts Gardeners’ Advice’- Dorling Kindersley 2004

Old School Gardener

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