Foliage plants

Make your garden even more attractive with foliage plants

If you want a feeling of tranquillity and harmony in your garden, consider using foliage plants. By selecting foliage plants that appeal to you, it’s easy to create a solid foundation for a garden where you will feel right at home. And another plus is that flowering plants will be shown to even better advantage in this oasis of leaves.

Foliage plants year after year

The showiest parts of foliage plants are their leaves. Instead of flowers that attract attention, it’s the special colour or shape of their leaves that catches the eye. And the range of varieties is enormous. The leaves of these perennials add body to your garden all through the garden season. Planting a number of these taller specimens of the same variety at various locations creates a sense of tranquillity and harmony. A row of the same variety running along a path, the border or the patio provides a similar effect. Foliage plants require little maintenance and will emerge in the spring without any help on your part. You can simply enjoy them year after year.

Foliage plants for sun or shade

When purchasing foliage plants, consider where you plan to plant them. The Plaintain Lily (Hosta), for example, will thrive in shade or partial shade. As a bonus, they also produce magnificent flower spikes. Pleioblastus auricomus, a bamboo, loves both sun and shade. As a general rule, foliage plants with purple leaves require a sunny location. The less sun they get, the greener their leaves become. Foliage plants with lighter-coloured leaves will suffer leaf scorch more easily so they should be planted in shade or partial shade.

Combining foliage plants

The versatility of foliage plants provides an opportunity for delightful combinations. The rounded, light-coloured leaves of a certain Coral Bells variety (Heuchera ‘Caramel’) contrast beautifully against the finely textured foliage of ferns belonging to the genus Polystichum. But you could also combine foliage plants with leaves of similar shapes and colours. It’s all a question of personal preference and a bit of experimentation.

Some interesting facts about foliage plants…

  • The Latin word for ‘leaf’ is folium (plural: folia) so a plant by the name of Rodgersia aesculifolia indicates that its leaves (folia) look similar to those of an Aesculus (Horse Chestnut).
  • The leaves of ferns are referred to as ‘fronds’. In the spring, they start unrolling from the centre of the plant like a party whistle and then grow to reach their full length.
  • Green leaves are important sources of oxygen. This is a result of photosynthesis: a process that takes place in their chloroplasts in which carbon dioxide is transformed into oxygen.
  • Some grasses such as Japanese Bloodgrass (Imperata cylindrica ’Red Baron’), display beautiful intense colours.


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