Foliage is such a key part of garden design. Often people focus so much on the blooms that they forget the importance of the leaves which make up so much of the visual backdrop of your garden. And there are so many wonderful foliage choices out there that will take your breath away.
As usual, I’ve been scouring the RHS flower shows this year to find you some wonderful gems and design ideas, and here are my top picks. I think you’ll love them. These foliage options will add some serious style to your garden.
Hosta ‘Emerald Tiara’
This dazzling emerald green hosta will brighten up your borders beautifully, and the colour intensifies with age. It also has bell shaped deep lavender flowers that come out later in the year.
Prefers dappled shade but will even live in full shade. Will work great in a pot for a shady alley or patio corner.
Hosta ‘Desert Mouse’
This lovely hosta has creamy-white leaves that turn white with a blue-green margin and it has pretty lavender flowers. It prefers shade or partial shade, so it’s great for darker corners of your garden.
Direct sun will drain the blue colour from the leaves. Almost fully disease and pest resistant, but they will need protection against slugs!
Hosta Mediovariegata undulata
This striking hosta, also known as a ‘Plantain Lily’, features wavy leaves a rich green with a burst of white in the centre.
This is a very popular variety, and again likes full or partial shade. Keep it well watered and it is an easy plant to grow, great for beginners and experts alike.
Sagina Subulata ‘aurea’ – Scotch Moss
This bright, mossy looking plant is extremely popular as a groundcover option. It features neon yellow-green foliage and has little white flowers in late spring. It’s also a great choice for filling in the cracks of flagstone paving, and can even be a lawn substitute.
Scotch Moss likes at least partial sun, and it does well in normal, sandy, or clay soil as long as it’s well drained. Make sure it doesn’t completely dry out and you will enjoy its bright evergreen shade all year.
Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’
This gorgeous and unusual leptinilla will bring a unique atmosphere to your border with its bronzy-black and green foliage.
A creeping, mat-forming perennial, it makes wonderful groundcover, forming tufty carpets of finely-divided, often aromatic, fern-like leaves. Tiny yellowish flowers appear on short stalks from late spring to summer.
It likes all well drained soils, and full sun or part shade. Great for rock gardens, gravel gardens and crevices in paving.
For a taste of the tropical try this cycas.
It will need to be in a container so that it can overwinter away from the frost, but it has a beautiful structure to it with its stout woody trunk bearing large, leathery, pinnate leaves in a terminal rosette. Great to bring out to the patio in summer.
Likes part shade and loam soil, acid or neutral.
Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’
This bold and unusual perennial features large spotted leaves that push up through the soil in spring like closed umbrellas and open out as they emerge. Bright crimson-red flowers hang beneath the leaves when they bloom.
Likes to live in full or partial shade, a sheltered position and heavy soil or clay.
Heucherella Solar Eclipse
Leaves of deep maroon bordered in lime green stand out wonderfully in your border. As the year wears on the darker colour becomes more prominent and the whole leaf appears nearly black with a golden edge. Blooms with lovely starry white flowers in summer.
Any well drained soil and shade/partial shade will do for this plant.
This beautiful heuchera has a base of lovely soft apple green foliage veiled with silvery white, from which myriads of rich lipstick-red flowers shoot out for a wonderful contrast.
These perennials will work in your border, but they are perfect for containers or even a rockery. They like a well-drained soil and partial shade.
Heuchera Little Cutie ‘Blondie’
Maybe it’s time to get away from green and add some new shades to your borders and pots. There are lots of plants out there with foliage in beautiful reds, maroons, silvers and more.
I love this little heuchera with its solid rusty shade of leaves against beautiful yellow blooms. Gorgeous.
Give it a fairly shady spot and well drained soil and it will thrive.
Begonia ‘David Blais’ & Begonia ‘Benichoma’
These two stunning begonias have a very different leaf style but a similar colour palate. Greens and silvers and maroons mix together on large, beautifully shaped leaves for a fabulous look in both cases.
They will do well in most soils but clay, and prefer partial shade. Begonias aren’t made for frost, so they will have to be lifted for winter or else live in containers, but they are a dazzling foliage option and well worth the effort. They will also make great houseplants for the winter anyway.
Begonia ‘Silver Spirit’
This may be my favourite foliage option this year. Just breathtaking to behold. The dark and rich maroon centre bleeds out into the pale, silvery-green leaf and turns almost black at the edge. What a dynamic look.
With the same growing conditions as the begonias above, this one will wow your visitors for sure.
Any of these 13 leafy beauties will make a bold horticultural statement. Choosing the best foliage plants for your garden will literally transform your space, so don’t focus only on blossoms and forget your fabulous foliage!