Fresh foliage provides fabulous effects in the garden!

At this time of year when new shoots are starting to emerge from the soil as bulbs and perennials push skywards, it is good to think about the kinds of effects we want to get from leaves, branches and stems as part of our planting overall compositions; how these might serve to highlight the flowers.  

texture, colour, backdrop, planting, design

Foliage combination in one of my show gardens at Bloom (2008)

Ask a good florist and they will tell you how important the foliage can be alongside the key blooms in any given arrangement; the foliage provides support, contrast, texture, volume and backdrop and I am sure that we can say the same things are provided by foliage in the garden.

garden design ideas, planting, foliage, texture, combinations

Texture and colour effects creating through combining plants in one of my show gardens. Contrast is created with the adjoining paving surface

The other thing I find is that if we get close up to sometimes seemingly quite innocuous leaves and stems they can actually be very interesting in their own right providing texture, colour and patterning that we may not realise is there on a cursory view.  Then when these microscopic effects are multiplied at a larger scale, surprising additions may be added to our composition.

garden, grasses, design, colour, texture

Zoom in close to see the complexity of colour in grass stems to see what the foliage can add to the garden composition

Sometimes these effects are there without us realising and it takes a person with a painterly eye to identify them to us.  Only then can they be appreciated and preserved.

foliage, special effects, water, garden, design

Alchemilla mollis foliage…a simple plant with simple leaves becomes special!

Finally, spectacular effects arise, sometimes unexpectedly, when light strikes on to, or back-lights foliage.  Combined with water droplets all of sudden we can see something magical arise out of the mundane.

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