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!
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.
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.
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…
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!)…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Mixing and matching ornamentals and edibles
- The best plants for beneficial insects
- Drought tolerant shade perennials
- Four perennials with fantastic foliage
Which colorful garden shrubs and plants would you add to this list?