Garden shrubs and plants for a foliage garden that pops!

Garden shrubs and plants for a foliage garden that pops!

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When it comes to perennial gardens, people love to focus on flowering plants the most. But flowers only last a short time before they fade, sometimes leaving gardens looking boring once the colorful blooms are gone. That’s why it’s important to focus on foliage first to add tons of color and texture. Whether your garden is in full sun or a shady nook, you can add garden shrubs and plants for a foliage garden that looks amazing!

Lovely mix of colorful foliage plants

Lovely mix of colorful foliage plants

Creating gorgeous gardens doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s actually pretty easy when you focus on mixing in colorful plants and shrubs, rather than just focusing on the flowers. By grouping plants with different foliage colors, textures and sizes, your gardens will become much more interesting and beautiful. Heck, you could create an entire garden area using nothing but plants with colorful foliage. Nobody would even notice the lack of flowers. Think of the flowers as an added bonus.

Mixing garden shrubs and plants for pops of color

One easy way to add contrast and color into your perennial gardens is by mixing perennial plants and shrubs of different heights and shapes. Large shrubs make great backdrops for smaller plants and shrubs, and make it easy to create a layered effect. Create lots of layers by pairing full sized shrubs with dwarf shrubs, perennial plants and colorful ground covers. An evergreen shrub might not add exciting color to the garden, but it can add a dramatic contrast to perennial plants with contrasting colors.

Related Post: Add height to your garden with colorful climbing plants

Colorful shrubs for height and texture

Barberry shrubs make a wonderful addition to any garden, and look gorgeous throughout the entire year. I like to mix the red barberry shrubs with the yellow ones, which creates a fantastic contrast. Plus they get bright red berries in the late fall, which add bright pops of red to the winter garden.

Barberry shrubs for a foliage garden

Barberry shrubs for a foliage garden

Some shrubs have green foliage and red stems like this hydrangea. Red twig dogwood shrubs are also a great choice for adding extra color, and they make a great anchor or background plant in the garden. The red stems add color to the garden even after the leaves drop from the plant.

Red twig hydrangea shrub

Red twig hydrangea shrub adds lovely contrast

Colorful plants for a foliage garden

Sedums are one of my favorite plants for a foliage garden. They add fantastic color throughout the entire growing season, and even add winter interest to the garden. Plus, sedums come in just about any color you can imagine. In the photo below, you can see that I mixed three different types of sedums (dark purple, a variegated yellow/green variety, and red dragons blood ground cover) to create layers of contrasting color…

Nice mix of colorful foliage plants

Nice mix of colorful foliage plants

I just love how that area of my garden pops! Here’s another example of using sedums with amazing color in the garden (another favorite area of mine – wow!)…

Sedum purple foliage plants

Sedums can be gorgeous foliage plants

Ground covers for creating blankets of color

Be sure to add colorful ground covers to your garden as well. Not only does ground cover add another layer of color, but it can help with weed control and soil erosion problems too. Most ground covers can take light foot traffic, so you don’t have to worry about being too careful when stepping into the garden.

Colorful ground cover plants for a foliage garden

Colorful ground cover plants for a foliage garden

Some of my favorite ground cover plants for adding blankets of color to all of my gardens are ajuga, mosses and sedums – which you can find in a variety of colors. I love this bright pink ajuga, and use it whenever I get a chance.

Ajuga colorful foliage ground cover

Ajuga colorful foliage ground cover

Plants and shrubs for year round color

Don’t forget to think about how your gardens will look during the different seasons of the year. Just because a shrub or plant has green foliage doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Some plants turn amazing colors during the cold weather months, and the contrast they add to the garden can be brilliant! So be sure to mix some plants into your gardens that will add fantastic color during the spring and fall – and even the winter months.

Colorful foliage in the fall

Colorful foliage in the fall

Burning bush is an excellent shrub for adding fall color to the garden. It may look boring during the summer, but quickly becomes the main focus in any garden in the fall when it turns eye-popping shades of blazing red.

Burning bush for gorgeous fall foliage

Burning bush for gorgeous fall foliage

Next time you’re deciding which garden shrubs and plants to buy, pay attention to the color and texture of the foliage and stems. Focus on foliage first, and you’re sure to create a perennial garden that pops with color!

More posts about garden plants

Which colorful garden shrubs and plants would you add to this list?

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Creating gorgeous perennial gardens is easy when you focus on mixing in colorful garden shrubs and plants, rather than just focusing on the flowers.







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3 Responses to Garden shrubs and plants for a foliage garden that pops!

  1. Julie says:

    Japanese Barberry and burning bush are invasives where I live and I would not recommend planting them.

  2. Nancy Caldwell says:

    Both Burning Bush and Barberry are listed as highly invasive in the mid-Atlantic region where I live, and should not be recommended.

  3. Margaret says:

    Totally agree with you Amy. There were quite a few gardens at the fling that embraced the wonders of foliage…so inspirational & lessons that I’ll be applying to my own garden.

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