Despite its name, The Chelsea Flower Show is about more than just flowers – it’s about foliage. It’s the unsung hero of garden design and people often overlook its importance in flower beds. But it plays an important role as the backdrop for the flowers and adds structure and texture.

Here are my favourite plants for foliage from the show.

Lagorus Ovatus Bunny tails


This is one of those plants that you have in the garden just to touch. Plant it in your flower beds and let the tips move about in the wind.



This is the standard low-growing plant for foliage, and it’s such a good choice. It comes in a range of colours, but I spotted this nice purple shade – it’s the top colour trend this year!

Pine trees


All gardens should have trees, but if yours is small, try a dwarf tree like this. Evergreen is best for foliage, and gives structure in winter when all the flowering plants are dormant. And the texture works well with more delicate flowers.

Vriesea Hieroglyphica


This is a great plant for tropical foliage – its markings almost remind me of zebra stripes.

Heucherella Sweet Tea


For a bit of Autumnal colour in summer, try heucherella. Its foliage looks like autumn tree leaves littering the floor, and its tiny white blooms add an elegant touch.



Hostas are great plants for shade – spots under trees or beds behind fences and walls. But they also look great in mixed flower borders.



This is the archetypal bright foliage, traditionally a Christmas plant. But it looks good outside too.

Molinia Caerula


This is a fantastic grass for planting among bed and borders to break up the flowers. It also looks great in containers for a modern effect.

Bromeliaceae Neoregilia


Tropical plants are always in fashion, and this one has the added bonus of red foliage. It makes great groundcover too.

Millium effusum


It looks like a thick-bladed grass, and it’s great for underplanting – this means planting around the base of taller plants. And it’s a lovely yellowy-green colour.