Colourful Foliage Planting Schemes

Do not think that colour depends exclusively on flowers. Foliage can also provide very pleasing colour and is often just as showy, possibly even more so, than many flowers. It has a very long season too – all the year round if you choose evergreens. I would suggest you do have a good sprinkling of evergreens, to make sure of winter interest. Perhaps some could be combined with winter-flowering shrubs and perennials.

Uses of foliage plants Foliage plants, whether shrubs, conifers, trees or perennials, can be combined with flowering and other foliage plants to create contrasts and harmonies. They are of particular value in one-colour schemes, but should also be included in every mixed bed or border. Some plants with more distinctive shapes, such as Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’, Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’, Robin lapseudo-acacia ‘Frisia’, and Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’, make excellent specimen plants in a lawn.

I would suggest you do not overdo the use of large foliage plants in a general garden. Do not, for instance, plant coloured-leaved trees, shrubs and conifers to the exclusion of green-leaved kinds, or the effect could be rather overpowering. As I said earlier, the basic colour of a garden should be green. In a more natural country garden coloured-leaved trees and shrubs could look out of place, though small coloured-leaved plants, such as silver or grey perennials or variegated hostas, should blend in well enough.

Some coloured-foliage shrubs and trees can be used for hedging: such as Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’ (blackish-purple), Berberis thunbergii ‘Atro-purpurea’ (reddish-purple), Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’ (yellow), Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Lanei’ (yellow), Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’ (green and gold), Ilex aquifolium varieties (variegated), and lavender (grey) for a dwarf hedge.

Ideas for plant groups You could try the following simple but very effective schemes:

• Purple Berberis x ottawensis ‘Pur-purea’ with red shrub roses.

• Variegated or golden hostas with candelabra primulas such as P. japonica.

• Variegated Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ with purple Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’.

• The variegated grass, Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ with varieties of border phlox (P. paniculate), especially those with strong colours.

• Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ with the variegated grass Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’.

• The grey-leaved tree, Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’, surrounded by the red-flowered perennial, Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’.

Sun or shade

It is safe to say that most coloured foliage plants need plenty of sun. But some will still be effective in shade and these are indicated in the lists of plants.

Red-purple plants

Will take shade for part of the day.

Golden plants

Mostly need as much sun as possible, though some, such as many of the golden hostas, will retain their colour when planted in a shady spot.

Variegated plants

Many of these are more tolerant of shade for much of the day than are the golden-leaved plants.

Silver/grey plants

Great sun lovers, needing very well-drained soil.

Recommended plants

In the following lists E indicates evergreen, and S means suitable for shade.


Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ (S), Acer platanoides ‘Crimson King’, Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’, Berberis thunbergii ‘Dart’s Red Lady’. Berberis x ottcuvensis ‘Purpurea’, Corylus maxima ‘Purpurea’, Cotinus coggyg-ria ‘Royal Purple’, Phot in ia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’ (E.S). Prunits cerasifera ‘Nigra’, Prunus x cistena, Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’ (E), Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’.


Acer japonicum ‘Aureum’, Berberis thunbergii ‘Aurea’, Calluna vulgaris ‘Gold Haze’ (E), Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Lanei’ (E), Corylus avellana ‘Aurea’, Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’ (E), Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’, Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’ (E), Philadelphia coronarius ‘Aureus’, Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’, Sambucus racemosa ‘Plumosa Aurea’, Spiraea x bumalda ‘Goldflame’. And Spiraea japon ica ‘Golden Princess’.


Acer negundo ‘Variegatum’, Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’, Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’ (E), Euonvmus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ (E,S), Hebe x andersonii ‘Variegata’ (E), Hedera canariensis ‘Gloire de Marengo’ (E,S), Hedera colchica ‘Dentata Variegata’ (E,S), Hedera helix ‘Gold-heart (E.S). Ilex x altaclarensis ‘Golden King’ (E,S). Salvia officinalis “Icterina” (E). and Weigela florida ‘Variegata’.


Artemisia absin-thium (E), Artemisia schmidtiana (E), Ballota pseudodictamnus (E), Convolvulus cneorum (E). Hebe pinguifolia ‘Pagei’ (E). Helichrysum splendidum (E). Helichrysum petiolatum (E), Lavandula a ngusti folia ‘Grappenhall’ (E), Pyrus salicifo-lia ‘Pendula’ (small tree), Rata graveolens ‘Jackman’s Blue’ (E), Santolina chamaecyparissus (E), and Senecio ‘Sunshine’ (E).


Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’ (S,E), Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (black foliage, E), Rheum palmatum ‘Atro-sanguineum’, and Sedum spathulifolium ‘Purpureum’(E).


Chrysanthemum parthenium ‘Aureum’ (E), hostas in variety (S), Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’ (climber), Milium effusum ‘Aureum’(grass), Valeriana phu ‘Aurea’.


Hosta in variety (S), Iris pallida ‘Variegata’ (E), Molinia caerulea ‘Variegata’ (grass), Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ (grass), Phormium in variety (E).


Anaphalis triplinervis, Artemisia ludoviciana, A vena Candida (grass, E), Festuca glauca (grass, E), Laniium maculaturn ‘Beacon Silver’ (E), Raoulia australis (E), and Stachys lanata ‘Silver Carpet’(E).

14. October 2013 by admin
Categories: Garden Colour, Top Tips | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Colourful Foliage Planting Schemes


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