Foliage Doesn’t Have To Be Boring


Bonsai Acer

I’ve had this maple tree in a bonsai pot for years. Whether it’s the variety or it is under stress I don’t know, but its leaves have red tints all season.



Hakonechloa macra Aureola

The Hakonechloa is just starting to show hints of autumn to come (it’s pretty, but I am so so NOT ready!). It can be a difficult grass to place. The astrantia seed heads are about to be clipped out and there’s still time for a second flush of flowers. The delicate pink of ‘Roma’ picks up the deepening tones in the grass to perfection.



 Ferns, growing happily on the woodland edge

Foliage is the defining feature in the woodland. I love the architectural qualities of ferns but in the formal areas of the garden foliage provides structure and interest too.



Phormium ‘Pink Panther’



Sisyrinchium ‘Aunt May’




 At the far end of the lower terrace bed the Pieris is still sending up new shoots, bright red that gently changes through pink and yellow to green.

 Flowers may come and go: Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’, Astilbe, Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’, Astrantia ‘Ruby Wedding’, but it is the differing colours, form and texture of foliage that keeps this area going right the way through the year.




 The two varieties of sedum (inherited, unknown) provide interesting foliage before they flower themselves. Dianthus picks up the hue of the glaucous leaves; hellebore, Saxifrage London Pride, fern, euonymus, dierama and geum all add to the variety of form.



 Saxifrage London Pride

London Pride makes perfect ground cover too. I did get round to chopping the spent flowers off this one. In the background, Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’.



Pheasant’s tail grass, Stipa arundinacea syn. Anemanthele lessoniana

 I use a lot of grasses, especially up on the bank where the style is less formal. This is a sneak preview of what’s coming in the End Of Month View. Yes folks, the astilbes have moved. They look so much better up here.



The silver foliage of ‘Snow in Summer’, Cerastium tomentosum

After the flowers have finished I clip back the Cerastium really hard and let new shoots form. In the meantime it provides a good backdrop to Sanguisorba ‘Tanna’



Fresh lime green leaves of Sarcococca against Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’



 The bird table rockery

 The tapestry of herbs under the bird table has really filled out now, set off by the brilliant yellow of Libertia ixioides ‘Goldfinger’. The aster, back right, will add colour next month but for the moment it contributes the deepest shade of green.


Linking up with Christina’s Garden of the Hesperides for Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day.

Click through (here) to find Christina and many other gardeners using foliage in truly inspirational ways.


2018-04-09T19:42:40+00:00July 22nd, 2014|Tags: |


  1. rabbitquilter July 22, 2014 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    Your garden plants are beautiful. My garden is very green – with weeds!! It is also south facing and toooo hot to do much except sit and think!! Not complaining, the summer sun is fabulous!!!

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      Tell me about it.. I must have the National Collection of weeds! The terraces I am managing to keep control of, the rest of it is another matter entirely.

  2. Christina July 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Thank you for joining GBFD this month; your post captures the essence of what I would like the meme to be about. It isn’t just about plants that have nice foliage but to help us all understand that without thinking about foliage texture and form when we design and plant, we’ll never create a satisfying garden. You sow that perfectly with all the examples you’ve chosen today.
    btw, there is a problem with the image of ‘Snow in Summer’, Cerastium tomentosum. Christina

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      Thanks Christina, and thanks for letting me know about the image too. I hope it’s sorted now. The website was really playing up last night when I was trying to upload the pictures. I gave up, but when I came back to it this morning multiple copies of everything had loaded, some with errors it seems.

  3. Sue July 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Gorgeous photos. It’s lovely to see the garden bathed in all that glorious sunshine. But yes, no hints of Autumn just yet please 😉

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 7:45 pm - Reply

      It’s been lovely this week, and hopefully for the rest of the week too. Siesta working hours in operation!

  4. Em July 22, 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    As I don’t get a lot of choice in the shade, I’ve really loved these. I bought four lovely Heuchera at the weekend from the dreaded Trago Mills. The garden centre is actually quite good now! Snow in Summer is my favourite – beautiful.

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 7:50 pm - Reply

      I have one surviving Heuchera, they really don’t like me for some reason. Perhaps I should try them in more shade. We need more good garden centres around here, I keep saying I’m going to try buying online, I just have visions of weedy specimens getting delivered that I would have rejected if I’d seen them first.

  5. Mark and Gaz July 22, 2014 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Your garden is looking fab Jessica! Love the Cerastium and Sanguisorba combination.

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 8:15 pm - Reply

      Thanks guys. It really brings the Sanguisorba to life, it would disappear a bit otherwise.

  6. Sigrun July 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, wonderful combinations – I have a lot of plants you have also. This week I collected the seed of my astrantias and put them with others in my seedbox.
    The Hakonegras is in full sun in my garden, but it is for light shade. I have not said it to the gras, it loves the sun!


    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      Same here with the Hakonegras.. the only problem with it I have found is that it wants to arrange all its fronds in one direction. To get a more elegant plant I have grown one in a pot, then I can keep turning it around!

  7. Caro July 22, 2014 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    I loved reading this post, Jessica – it’s great to see the spots in your garden that are catching your eye at the moment, with plenty of inspiration. I really like the astilbe/stipa combo; although I have a couple of astilbe plants, they’re in medium dry shade so maybe I should move them? Love that you’ve named all the plants, that will come in handy when I need inspiration for another corner of the gardens here!

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 8:29 pm - Reply

      Astilbes do like a bit of moisture. These survived in full sun until they were moved, I’m hoping they will do better in their new home though.

  8. Countryside Tales July 22, 2014 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    I like the Pheasant Grass (was that put in as homage to you-know-who?). I like variegated foliage and we have a few plants in pots that do that very well here. The leaves of Lungwort are looking stunning at the moment too, I noticed yesterday…

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      I have pheasant grass and pheasant berry so he should be well at home. Still waiting for the new family to be formally presented.. I can still hear him down by the river, where I also noticed Lungwort looking rather good as it happens.

  9. Pauline July 22, 2014 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Such beautiful photos Jessica of your lovely foliage. You have such beautiful contrasting colour combinations, they each set the other off beautifully. We have so many of the same plants, but they look different because they have different partners.

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 8:37 pm - Reply

      It is indeed possible to create quite different effects by combining with different partners. I was thinking today that I’ve got to the stage where the perennials I planted initially could now be ready to divide. It will be fun doing a remix and match and see what comes out.

  10. Alain July 22, 2014 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    Not only your foliage is attractive but the combinations with other plants are very dynamic and produce very interesting effects.

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      Thank you Alain. I like the way that interesting combinations of foliage can get us through gaps in the flowering season. Or when something nibbles all the flowers off one plant, as the mice have just done with the Dianthus.

  11. Linda from Each Little World July 22, 2014 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    My husband was saying just last night that he wondered if people visiting our garden at this time of year would find it boring as it is almost all foliage. We love foliage so we’re not bored with our garden or yours!

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 8:52 pm - Reply

      There are only a couple of areas where flowering plants do well here, immediately in front and to the back of the house. Moving out into the woodland it’s all foliage too. They will be the most challenging areas when I get to them, but definitely not boring!

  12. angiesgardendiaries July 22, 2014 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    Many garden stalwarts that look totally different in every garden we see them in. The value we place on foliage is as important as the flowers themselves. I love how you rely on your Pieris for year round colour and texture and it seems you’ve matched it beautifully with the surrounding plants. I floored most of my Astrantia today, gave them all a good soak and hopefully they’ll look as good as new in a week or so.
    The zingy green of the Sarcococca and black of the Ophiopogon is amazing Jessica.

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 8:55 pm - Reply

      The Astrantia shearing is due for tomorrow here. Ophiopogon must be the most frequently appearing plant on this site. It works so well with so many things, love it.

  13. snowbird July 22, 2014 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Some fab contrasts here, your acer is a gorgeous colour, I don’t seem to have much luck with them. That pink panther does look good against the old

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      Pink Panther is splendid, I wish it would grow just a tiny bit taller, to get to the top of the wall. A new pink rose is going next to it tomorrow, I hope they will be happy!

  14. paxton3 July 22, 2014 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    All those different colours and textures are really beautiful. My garden is lacking in this area. And yes Autumn is already showing it’s signs in the garden.
    Leanne xx

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      How quickly this summer is going by. It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the first day of spring.

  15. Jo July 22, 2014 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Foliage definitely isn’t boring, it adds so much to a garden, so many different colours, textures and shapes. I love the acer.

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      Woman cannot live with flowers alone. Especially when the ones I like the best are so very fleeting.

  16. Jennifer July 22, 2014 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    Your plants are so beautiful. I love foliage too. Here in the desert, there are not a lot of broadleaf plants but there are many types of drought-resistant green plants with spines or needles, and more herbal plants too. I love Japanese maples and that photo of yours is just wonderful.

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jennifer. It’s fascinating to see what grows successfully in different parts of the world. The weather has become more unpredictable here in recent years, we’ve had dry years and wet years, difficult to know what to grow for the best sometimes!

  17. hoehoegrow July 22, 2014 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    Jessica, you have hit the nail on the head! Flowers are fleeting but foliage remains dependable all season. You have some lovely unusual plants which you have used so skilfully , to advantage. Is it all in the planning or do you have happy accidents too ?

    • Jessica July 23, 2014 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      It’s all in the planning of course… Ho Ho! 😉

  18. Amy at love made my home July 22, 2014 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    You have lots of fabulous foliage – and flowers!!! The bird table herbs are doing really well aren’t they. xx

    • Jessica July 23, 2014 at 12:26 pm - Reply

      They’ve really come on, and completely covered up the stones. One chamomile failed, the one directly under the main feeder (just out of shot 🙂 ). I will have to find something more robust to replace it.

  19. Chloris July 22, 2014 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    You have some wonderful foliage combinations Jessica- very clever planting. I love Sanguisorba Tanna, I have several Sanguisorbas but not this one. I shall look out for it. The Stipa looks great with the Astilbes and I love the Phormium against the wall.
    Great photos.

    • Jessica July 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm - Reply

      The Sanguisorba is ready for splitting. It’s a terrific plant, I can see loads of new uses for it, sending its pom poms up between lower growing things. Thanks Chloris.

  20. Marian July 23, 2014 at 12:01 am - Reply

    Beautiful display of different foliage.So right, not only flowers make the garden, foliage is as important. Right now I love the fresh Geranium and Columbine leaves that are sprouting after I cut them a while ago because they weren’t looking that great anymore. Not the great variety of foliage you show us here but I’m enjoying the little things that do work out in our garden 😉

    • Jessica July 23, 2014 at 12:34 pm - Reply

      I should do the same with geraniums, they get so sprawling after a while.

  21. Christina July 23, 2014 at 7:41 am - Reply

    I’m glad I came back to see the missing image of Cerastium with Sanguisorba ‘Tanna’; a winning combination!

    • Jessica July 23, 2014 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      Thanks Christina. Almost a silver/purple combo! I shall be looking out for more opportunities to do that, it works so well in your garden.

  22. Sue@GLAllotments July 23, 2014 at 9:24 am - Reply

    Under the bird table is looking good. Does seed falling cause a problem with weeds

    • Jessica July 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm - Reply

      Not yet.. the ground feeders, no doubt supported by the mice, seem to do an excellent job of clearing it all up. I am worried about the new nyger seed feeder though, I see the birds dropping that all over the place. Not sure I know what nyger looks like… may soon find out!

  23. Janet/Plantaliscious July 23, 2014 at 10:27 am - Reply

    So many fabulous combinations Jessica, and hasn’t your bird table planting come together beautifully. Plus one for loving your Cerastium and Sanguisorba combo. And aren’t massed ferns a delight? I inherited an astilbe, I can’t ever quite decide whether I like the fluffy flowers, but I do adore the foliage. I must work out where I can move it to for best effect. Looking forward to that slope update.

    • Jessica July 23, 2014 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      The shuttlecock type ferns really do look good as a clump. I’m with you on Astilbe, the emerging foliage is one of the highlights of the garden in Spring but I’m less taken with the flowers. I think I’ve found the right place for it now. If it survives my impulsive hottest-day-of-the-year shifting around session it can stay put.

  24. Annie Edwards July 23, 2014 at 10:37 am - Reply

    isn’t it odd how foliage can be deemed boring? Well, your images certainly show the opposite. I love your phormium and have two of the green variety in my garden.

    • Jessica July 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm - Reply

      I may well get more of them. They do absolutely nothing other than sit there all year round, but they really set off the surrounding plants. I’m hoping the rose that is about to go next to it will pick out the pink tones perfectly.

  25. Jayne Hill July 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Have you been dragging Mike around the garden with a tripod? {grin}. Great pictures, as always.

    I love foliage, lasts much longer than the flowers.

    • Jessica July 24, 2014 at 11:50 am - Reply

      I hate to see a grown man bored.. and besides, he loves it really.

  26. Rosie July 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    Lovely, Jessica what prettyfoliage you have in such differnet shapes, colours and textures. The ferns on one side of our garden look wonderful but on the other they have started to go brown at their tips – too much sun I suspect. I found the London Pride lurking under loads of yellow loosestrife and sedum which had spread so much over the last week or so – I’m glad it is still there:)

    • Jessica July 24, 2014 at 11:54 am - Reply

      Our London Pride gets taken over too, but it seems to hang in there. Just as long as it doesn’t get too dry.

  27. sustainablemum July 24, 2014 at 8:23 am - Reply

    What beautiful foliage, your herbs are looking good they do seem to be liking this heat mine have grown masses this year too. My garden is mostly about foliage as I am not that good at growing flowers (we have some but they were already in the garden).

    • Jessica July 24, 2014 at 11:58 am - Reply

      It’s perfect weather for mediterranean herbs. They must also be getting a lot of ‘fertiliser’… the ones under the bird table are doing far better than the same plants I grow to use in the kitchen!

  28. Isabelle July 24, 2014 at 11:35 am - Reply

    I so agree with you, Jessica. My garden is full of foliage and I love it. Gorgeous photos too.

    • Jessica July 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm - Reply

      It’s so hard to keep a garden in flower all the time, interesting foliage fills the gaps! That picture of Delft on your latest post is just beautiful.

      • Isabelle July 25, 2014 at 7:21 pm - Reply

        Thanks – I took it in the centre of Delft and feel very lucky to live in such a lovely old town.

        • Jessica July 25, 2014 at 9:27 pm - Reply

          It’s on my list to visit now, really lovely!

  29. islandthreads July 25, 2014 at 8:42 am - Reply

    I was quite taken aback by the title of your post Jessica as I’ve never thought of foliage as boring and have bought many plants for their foliage, you have some beautiful foliage in your garden, no time for boredom, I love the sisyrinchium and the tapestry under the bird table, Frances

    • Jessica July 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm - Reply

      Having spent many years in pursuit of flowering glory I had tended not to think much about foliage. In a shady garden though it is essential! Experimenting with the different textures and forms is going to be fun I think.

  30. Patrick July 25, 2014 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Hey Jessica,

    What a beautiful bevy of glorious garden imagery, but I would expect no less of a gardener who was the fifth to sign up for GBBD.

    I’m viewing your post on this 100+ degree day in America’s heartland near Kansas City. It’s a day where a nice settee in tall, glorious ferns sounds appealing, after the sun goes down, of course.

    Will have to grow the phorbium ‘Pink Panther’ some day but it’s a little pricey when you consider is only an annual in our harsh winters but I love it when I see it in commercial planters.

    Please visit me to see my first GBBD presentation which has one heck of a back story to it.

    Best, Patrick

    • Jessica July 25, 2014 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Patrick, thanks and welcome to rusty duck.
      Ah now, us Brits have an advantage when it comes to being top of the GBBD list.. our day starts earlier!
      I have been known to complain about our weather, but it’s a relatively benign climate compared with the extremes that you guys have to put up with. Thank you for your comment, I really look forward to seeing how your patio garden develops.

  31. casa mariposa July 25, 2014 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    It’s taken me a long time to figure out how to bring all the different elements of a garden together. But now foliage and texture are just as vital to me as the flowers, especially if the plant has a short bloom time. I really love your hakonechloa but haven’t found a spot yet in my garden that will make it happy. I think my shade is too dry. 🙁

    • Jessica July 25, 2014 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      So many of the flowers I love have a short bloom time. I look forward to them all year and then ‘puff’, they’re gone. What I’ve noticed this year are the peony seed heads, like a jester’s hat. The blooms last just a few days, but I’ve had these weeks.

  32. Laura July 26, 2014 at 3:33 am - Reply

    That Hakonechloa is just being silly…autumn colours?!? Somebody remind that plant that it’s not even August 🙂
    Your bottle brush looks amazing against the snow-in-summer. But why no heuchera? It was my answer to “but the garden…it’s so…green.”
    Love your incredible variety.

    • Jessica July 26, 2014 at 7:41 am - Reply

      I’ve tried telling it, believe me!

  33. Laura July 26, 2014 at 3:39 am - Reply

    Sorry, just read the comments…try heuchera “Marmalade.” It’s been my most successful to date. Gorgeous pink under the leaves, too.

    • Jessica July 26, 2014 at 7:45 am - Reply

      I went through a heuchera phase and tried so many, including Marmalade. I think they prefer a bit of shade though don’t they? When I get to a suitable area of the garden, we’re not short on shade, I will try again!

  34. Linda July 26, 2014 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    You have created so much interest in your garden due to the variety and contrasting colours of the plants. Now to go and cut back, dead head and generally tidy up our garden after a time away!

    • Jessica July 26, 2014 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      There’s a lot to do when you’ve been away for a while in summer, but it will look great when it’s done. All the better for sitting out and enjoying it.

  35. Suzanne July 28, 2014 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    The pictures are great! The garden is coming along nicely. The area under the bird table worked out so well.
    Love that saxifrage, wish I could grow it.

    • Jessica July 28, 2014 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      I’m pleased with the bird table area, and the view down the terraces from there. The spot of ground directly under the main nut feeder is still a problem, chamomile wasn’t tough enough. Might try something else before I resort to just leaving it as stones. Thanks Suzanne.

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