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Flowers are Overrated

September 8, 2011

By John Markowski

Caught your eye with that title didn’t I?

I’m not here today to bash flowers really, but rather to celebrate that other part of a plant we so lovingly refer to as “foliage”. Isn’t it a fantastic word? It just sounds so rich and full of character.

When you think of plants and gardening, the first image that comes to mind are flowers. They give your garden that burst of color that puts a big old smile on your face. I love them too, but more often than not, they only stick around for a short period of time. Just walk around your neighborhood in late spring or late summer and you’ll see tired looking plants that already bloomed and then threw in the towel.

How do we make our gardens look alive and colorful all year long? We pick those plants that offer clean, colorful and crisp foliage for long chunks at a time. If that same plant also provides colorful blooms, consider it a bonus.

Let me share with you some of my favorite foliage plants:

Dark burgundy leaves on Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’:

Bright green hydrangea foliage:

Which changes color as the season progresses:

A unique yellow/orange color on Arborvitae ‘Rheingold’:

Combining two contrasting foliage colors – Sedum and Spirea:


Combination of three different foliage shapes and colors:

Variegated foliage lights up the dull green foliage of an ornamental grass:

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2011 3:43 pm

    Interesting article. As a flower grower and designer, I believe you can have knock out arrangements simply using foliage! So, I encourage people to plant what they can use-a philosophy of purposeful gardening. The burgundy Weigela above and the variegated shrub along with grasses make wonderful “fillers” and stand alone…Thanks for the article. MLCH

  2. September 13, 2011 5:50 am

    Fantastic article from you, it is quite useful! Thanks for sharing it!
    Weigela Wine and Roses are my favorite flower. I think many people like it,too.
    They can very beautifl!

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