Designing a Garden With Foliage

A beautifully designed bed can highlight an area of the garden even when nothing is in bloom.

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Celisse Berumen

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Shades of Green

Plants like azaleas and daylilies have their seasons to flower but also play a part in the design when foliage is the main star. In this serene garden, a fern on a pedestal is the finishing touch in a planting bed that features tonal, textural and height changes, in addition to the structural quality of the tree trunks.

Art with Foliage

Copper-colored and dark green, the fronds of the autumn fern (left) complement the orange-pink leaves of coral bells (right). Erupting with an assortment of bold foliage textures and colors, this pot is a horticultural tour de force. And, notice, no flowers. The green sedge (Carex dipsacea, hardy to USDA Zone 7), will eventually go dormant for the winter, turning soft russet tones. Ornamental grasses are not only great for providing a flush of color and texture but also for adding sound in the winter, swishing in the wind.

Brighten Up Shady Nooks

The space below overhead wooden beams in this narrow garden is the perfect place for feathery ferns and trailing plants that tumble over the garden wall.

Take Advantage of Variegated Leaves

With its many colorful leaf patterns, caladiums can be depended on to brighten dark areas of a shade garden.

Variations on a Theme

Hostas do produce blooms in midsummer, but their best asset is foliage — played well in this garden.

Same Color, Different Shape

Repeating a color but changing the leaf style is another good way to make transitions in a garden bed.

Colorful Succulents

A composition of various sedums creates the foundation of an eye-catching, multi-seasonal bed.

Go Big, Bold and Tropical

Every garden can use a warm-climate plant to add a lush, tropical feel — even if only for a summer. Here, cannas decorate a small garden nook.

Add Supporting Players

Modern galvanized pots looks sleek and stunning against the tall, bright foliage of bamboo on this patio.

Use Edibles for Foliage, Too

Fennel, known for its edible, licorice-flavored bulb, produces tall, feathery foliage that floats above other summer veggies.

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