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Garden Writers Association in Portland, Oregon

Saturday, September 20th
Fabulous Foliage

Foliage, to my mind, really pays its rent for space in the garden. Flowers come, flowers go, and leaves provide the foundation on which gardens may be built. Hardly an extreme position - just consider the popularity of hostas and ferns and ornamental grasses, pulmonaria and heuchera and more. Nor is green, in all its variations, the only option when it comes to designing with foliage. There's gold and glaucous blue, silver shades of gray, red and bronze and black, and variegation. Rather, leaves offer the thoughtful gardener a broad palette with which to play. No question, no doubt, that I'm enamored with foliage. After all, I authored Garden Design with Foliage, published by Timber Press.

Lynn Youngbar agrees, using striking foliage rather than struggling with turf that would fail to thrive beneath a huge deodara cedar, Cedrus deodara, that overhangs the house. Golden lonicera and golden hop vine. Purples and reds of castor bean, Ricinus communis. Leaves and bracts and flowers and fruit of Himalaya honeysuckle, Leycesteria formosa, is an orchestrated array of bright lime green and yellow to mahogany. Beauty berry, Callicarpa bodinieri, with its easily ignored flowers, followed by vibrant purple bead-like fruits crowding its branches.

Rosemary and ivy spill over the crisp geometry of a street-side wall.

Purple-leaved sweet potato vine, its new growth picking up the color
of golden chartreuse pineapple-scented sage, Salvia rutilans.

Careful color harmony by the back door, a bowl of coleus
nicely matching the colors of the brick wall and chartreuse door mat.

Two pots of succulents, with luscious colors.

The secluded back garden is walled by a towering hedge.
No, that's not some rare silver-leaved squash. Its mildew.

A well-set table. Sunny colors of a placemat (even the Fiskars
scissors blend in) with a brightly colored pitcher. The tall red tumbler holds
sprigs of Setcreasea pallida ' Purple Heart'. Wonderful foliage accent.

Foliage can be subtle too. Setcreasea tumbles at the feet of a tall bronze phormium.
The color play of silver-washed purple against sword-like bronze appeals to me. Chartreuse
leaves on the nearby shrub adds pizzazz, keeps the combination from feeling too somber.

Just because you like foliage doesn't mean you dislike flowers. It's possible
to enjoy both. And among others, Lynn likes dahlias, such as this wonderful apricot beauty
(which just happens to have dark leaves, enhancing its flowers, and the garden.)

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