Garden Clippings for August 4

An 8 ft Lilac or Magnolia is much bigger than an 8 ft Japanese Red Maple.  That’s because a Lilac is dense with big, heavy foliage while a Japanese Maple is so finely textured that you can see right through it.

Texture plays a far greater role in the garden than you and I might think.  Yes, we love the interest and variety that a colourful garden gives us, but we can be equally impressed with a landscape full of textures and forms.

In the heavily shaded garden, texture plays an especially significant role because sun loving colourful perennials won’t perform where the sun doesn’t shine.

Thanks to their big leaves, Hostas are the king of bold texture in the perennial garden.  Plant a few large leafed Hostas next to finely textured foliage of fern and you will have a winning combination.

The key to an eye-catching landscape is contrasting bold with fine texture.  Other elements that can be added are upright forms contrasting with flat growth habit, shiny leaves versus dull, and tall combined with dwarf.

In the fine leafed category there are plenty options.  Ferns are an obvious choice, as are Yarrow, Coreopsis, perennial Geranium, Astilbe, Shasta Daisy, Bleeding Heart and Columbine.

Many ornamental grasses such as Blue Oat and Blue Fescue are fine textured, while the tall fast-growing types can be bold in both texture and form.

The best Hostas for heavy texture are varieties with largest leaves.  ‘Sum and Substance’ is a winner with light coloured foliage reaching nearly 4 feet.  Hosta sieboldiana ‘Blue Angel’, grows 3 feet high and 4 feet wide and has broad blue-green foliage.

The perennial with the biggest leaves is the hard-to-find Petasites japonicus or Sweet Colt’s foot.  Leaves are about the size of elephant ears reaching more than 3 feet in diameter.  The plant grows in clumps or groves and is the perfect hiding spot for kids playing hide and seek.

Other perennials with big bold leaves include Ligularia with dark green round leaves and a bonus of yellow flower spikes in summer.  Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ a good choice for gardeners tired of Hostas, is a beautiful low growing plant with white veined leaves.

Fifty shades of green with careful use of texture will make for a pleasing garden with little or no bloom.