Garden Diary - August 2011

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Saturday, 6 August 2011
Garden Conservancy Open Days: Sid Jones Garden

For any number of years I've enjoyed the use of foliage as a mainstay, foundation for garden design. I've even written a couple of books about garden use of foliage.

Consider the Leaf: Foliage for Garden Design

Why leaves? Just consider - leaves are present for month after month, while flowers come and go, making foliage a backdrop and foundation for garden design. Think of autumn, with its riotous display of color, and evergreen foliage offering a winter display when flowers are absent. So of course I was quite pleased to see the excellent use Sid had made of foliage in his garden - lots of bold foliage tropicals, excellent combinations of foliage, container foliage plants as accents in the garden, and splendid shrubs and trees to embellish it.

Foliage has two levels that should be taken into design consideration. First, pattern variations of shape. Next, use of colors other than green.

Take cannas. They do bloom. But here I find the foliage display
provided by Canna 'Tropicana' far outshines the flowers. Agreed?

Here, the red spot banana in the background, next deep purple black
Canna 'Australia', with a fuchsia blotched coleus as a bright accent.

The light-absorbing qualities of Canna 'Australia' make a dark and polished addition
here and there in Sid's garden, acting as a splendid foil for flowers as well as other foliage.

Golden stripes of Canna 'Pretoria' pairs well
with this carnival, colorfully splashed coleus.

Another possibility: chartreuse leaves of an enthusiastically growing sweet potato, Ipomoea 'Margarita'
tangled with the lacy green leaves of white flowered Corydalis ochroleuca and yellow C. lutea.

Plug a gap in the garden while adding some pizzazz using potted plants.
Begonia 'Iron Cross' mingles happily in the shade along a path with
hosta, a sprawling mass of epimedium, and a cascade ofVinca minor.

An elegant touch is provided by this rex begonia embellishing
a simple lattice screen that conceals some equipment.

Don't want to deal with tender plants? Prefer something easy to find
care for, and provides a great display? A large golden leaf hosta is
terrific against a carpeting backdrop of dark forest green Vinca minor.

Sciadopitys verticillata, Japanese umbrella pine with elegant dark
needles set off by a carpet of fern below. Sid went to the nursery
in autumn and chose the one with dark, still green foliage as some
turn bronze-ish in cold weather. He's been topping it to control
the height but missed it last year. Now there's a problem . . . . .

A splendid specimen of Aralia elata aureomarginata. This variegated
Japanese angelica tree has been in the garden for 12 years. Sid especially
enjoys it in fall with large panicles of showy rose red fruit above the foliage.

A very pleasant outing in a delightful private garden, thanks to
Sid's generosity and the Garden Conservancy's Open Days scheme.

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