Tag Archives: texture

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – May 2012

Today I am participating in GBFD and examining how foliage enhances the garden.

Rising along the southern path medium green, smooth foliage of Hedychium coronarium or Ginger lily contrast deeply with silvery Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion). Hedychium has fragrant white tropical blooms for a brief time in the fall, last year not until late October. It seems to be thriving this year due to the regular rainfalls.

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Here is another look at the thick, strongly textured Stachys byzantina and Lychnis coronaria along the path. This section of the path is generally very dry.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear), Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)

Lavender with its long, narrow and also silver leaves has seemed almost ready to flower for several weeks. It is used as a short foundation hedge.


At the end of a narrow bed along the driveway thick, bronzed stems and leaves of this Canna provide some strong color. The large leaves and color of this canna make it a nice companion for neighboring Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower). By late June the canna’s rich, orange blossoms will echo the orange centers of the coneflower.


Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) and Canna

At the front of the Western border perennial Dusty Miller provides a silver and feathery foil to Tradescantia (Spiderwort), whose flowers are closed tight by late afternoon.

Dusty Miller

Long, basal leaves of several Digitalis (Foxglove) contrast with leaves of Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy).

Foxglove and Shasta Daisy

This is the same clump of Shasta Daisy as above. Behind it is feathery, airy Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow). The large shrubs in the back are spiraea on the left and gardenia on the right. Also visible on the right is an emerging clump of Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes.’

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy),Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow)

This is another look at the foliage of Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes.’ The original plant has not been blooming well the last couple of years so I planted a division in an area of the garden where it should get more sun. Monarda is creeping into its space.

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

The strong vertical movement of the swordlike Gladiolus leaves is repeated by the flower stalks of Meadow Sage ‘May Night’ while succulent leaves of Autumn Joy Sedum anchor the base.

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’, Autumn Joy Sedum, Gladiolus

Gladiolus and Liatris spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather) emerge from a mound of Nepeta (Catmint) which has strayed a little beyond it intended place. The foliage and flowers of the nepeta adds softness to these textures.

Nepeta (Catmint), Gladiolus, Liatris spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather)

The graceful tendrils and odd stems of Everlasting Sweet Pea weave themselves along into chrysanthemums and Aquilegia (columbine).

Perennial Sweet Pea

For more observations on garden foliage please visit the host of GBFD,  Christina at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides,  to see her interesting take on this subject and to find links to other GBFD bloggers.

Seeing Color and Texture In Mixed Sedum

A container of mixed sedum was irresistible during a quick stop at the garden center yesterday. The textures and colors make an interesting collection.

Italian Arum. Surprise!

Protected and somewhat obscured by a gardenia, an Italian Arum thrives. Though not obvious at first, it sits tucked away under the large shrub, awaiting discovery from a passer-by.

The hastate or arrow-shaped leaves of Arum italicum (Italian Arum) add textural interest this time of year. The shiny deep green leaves, accentuated by light, vein-like markings, emerged in early fall (October) and remained evergreen all winter.

The garden was new and had very little shade when this plant was first added, so the arum was sited on the northern side of the house in a narrow strip along the foundation. For a couple of years it made a nice companion plant to a large clump of hostas, filling in when the hostas died back each year. The hostas are long gone (taken by drought, not deer, surprisingly) and the now mature foundation shrubs fully occupy the slender space.

I had planned to divide the Italian Arum this year and move some into the main garden where it might be more noticeable, to create a more effective display. In researching today how to divide Italian Arum I have learned that would not be wise. Unfortunately this plant is not native, rather it comes from Africa, Asia and Europe. It is listed as invasive in some parts of the U.S., including the nearby state of Virginia. Some North Carolina gardeners report Italian Arum as extremely difficult to eradicate and warn against planting it.

So this started out as a post about the surprise of coming upon a lovely and unusual plant such as Arum Italicum in the garden. It was supposed to end this way:

The arum certainly is fun where it exists now, lending that element of the unexpected. Walking by its hiding place, missing it at first, then glimpsing it at last and noticing its amazing surprise of shape and pattern, one is reminded of the joy plants can bring.

Arum Italicum (Italian Arum) held an even bigger garden surprise than I knew. This plant has always behaved well in this garden but if its seeds can spread and cause problems, I will have to seek some expert help for clarification and advice.

Meanwhile at least Arum Italicum did provide an opportunity to learn the word hastate:

Hastate, spear-shaped (hastata): Pointed, with barbs, shaped like a spear point, with flaring pointed lobes at the base
“Leaf shape.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. Dec 2011. Web. 1 Feb 2012.

A Close-up Texture Study

The garden is losing a sense of overall structure as autumn progresses, something I had planned to remedy when I started a renovation project last winter. Indeed there have been enhancements toward this end. The additions of a screening hedge of five ‘Blue Point’ junipers, a white picket fence enclosing the garden and a meditation circle with a labyrinth are all happy improvements. Still, the overall garden framework is and will be a work-in-progress.

Today I have set aside that larger view to concentrate on the textures that reveal themselves when one closely examines individual elements in the garden. With their leaves puddled around their bases or scattered into the neighbors’s yards, a river birch, a pair of crape myrtles and a Chinese elm prominently display interesting bark surfaces.

Chinese Elm

Chinese Elm

Chinese Elm

Chinese Elm

Crape Myrtle

River Birch

The rich green color and fern-like quality of tansy and yarrow leaves are lovely and welcome this time of year.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

Pink Yarrow

With mild temperatures in the seventies the yarrow continues to set buds, set off by the silvery narrow leaves of a nearby lavender.

Pink Yarrow and Lavender

Eastern red columbine adds garden interest year round. Though the colorful leaves are drying now they add contrast to the burgeoning hellebores leaves underneath.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Garden Textures

Including plants of varying textures is a satisfying way to create garden interest and style. Looking back at my garden through the years, I find some textural combinations were planned arrangements, but happenstance is welcome in my world as well.

The fern-like leaves of tansy, narrow grass-like blades of tradescantia, unfurling softness of rose campion, and feathery wisps of artemisia provide textural contrasts to the structures of echinacea, phlox paniculata, sweet pea, and black-eyed Susan as well as to each other.