Choosing plants for your garden should go beyond pretty flowers but also include interesting textures and colors of foliage. Leaves put on a much longer show than typical perennials which bloom for a shorter season.
Using various shades and textures, you can weave delicate, airy foliage next to stiff, upright plants or those which have a coarse texture. They will provide contrast and show off to good advantage. Indeed, a plant with bold, dramatic foliage makes as much of an impact in the garden as flowers do.
Of course, there is a wide range of green hues, ranging from lime chartreuse to deep evergreen, and everything in between. But why stop at green? There are also plants such as Mondo grass (Ophiopogon ‘Nigrescens’and Snake Root (Cimicifuga racemosa) that has foliage so dark it appears to be black.
Artemesia lactiflora has silver white foliage as does Stachys, commonly known as Lamb’s Ears. Another beautiful plant with silver leaves touched with shades of purple is Japanese Painted Fern.
Heuchera varieties come in shades of orange, deep purple, silver streaks, mottled gray, purple and lime green. Variegated leaves are represented in many forms including Ribbon Grass.
With all these choices, where to begin? Consider what effect are you looking to achieve. Bold or calm? Drama or serenity? Green shades calm and soothe, especially important in urban areas and meditation gardens.
Blue and blue green foliage often found in varieties of hostas create a sense of coolness and serenity and provide contrast and illicit drama to purple foliages and flowers.
To provide strength to a border, bring on plants with purple and burgundy leaves, and to provide a touch of sunniness, add gold or yellow leaves. This is especially important in shady areas where yellow or golden leaves can be used to brighten and contrast.
Warm red in Japanese maples, coleus and miscanthus add excitement and punctuation. Use these as focal points.
Gray and silver tone leaves reflect tints of surrounding plants and are so useful in bringing balance and cohesion. For example, a gray toned leaf placed near red causes the gray to look more green. Placed near violet, gray appears more yellow. And if it is next to orange, gray will take on a blue tinge. In essence, they cause surrounding plants to play together nicely.
Variegated leaves lighten a garden and adds a sense of refreshment.
So by choosing perennials, annuals, vines, trees and shrubs that have interesting foliage, you can extend seasonal interest and provide dramatic effect.
Finding interesting plants for your garden is easy, and no matter where you live, these sites are for gardeners in all zones. Look to http://www.bluestoneperennials.com for starter plants and http://www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com for a great selection of seeds. Happy gardening!