lemony lace elderberry

Four perennials with fantastic foliage

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I love ornamentals—I grow a few each year from seed and can never resist certain varieties in the garden centre when it’s time to plant. But, I also love plants that can hold their own in the garden without the showy blooms. There are many plants with interesting foliage that act as a lovely backdrop to other plants, or that can stand alone as the star of the show.

Four perennials with fantastic foliage

Here are a few plants I have in my garden that I chose for their interesting leaves.

1. ‘Lemony Lace’ Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

In the summer of 2014, I received this showy little shrub (see showy photo above) in the mail from Proven Winners and couldn’t wait to add it to my front garden. The foliage is a vibrant chartreuse and I love the feathery texture of the leaves. It provides a vibrant backdrop for my deep purple bearded irises. The shrub is hardy to zone 4 and deer resistant, which is a bonus because sometimes the deer consider my front garden a tasty buffet.

(image courtesy of ProvenWinners ColorChoice)

2. Sedum Sunsparkler ‘Firecracker’
I came home from a Garden Writers Association luncheon with this feisty little sedum from Heritage Perennials. I planted it in my front garden in a dry, full-sun spot. Since it’s planted on a bit of a ledge, it cascades really nicely over the rocks. The foliage becomes a deeper shade of red as the season progresses. And the bees and butterflies love the pink blooms!

Sedum Sunsparkler 'Firecracker'

Sedum Sunsparkler ‘Firecracker’ – image by Tony Post, Valleybrook Gardens

3. ‘Pink Icing’ Blueberry bush from Bushel and Berry
Who knew that a blueberry bush could add colour to the garden? This beauty is from Bushel and Berry, and has pink foliage in the spring with hints of blue and green, and turquoise foliage in the winter. It enjoys full sun, is hardy to zone 5, and is quite happy in a container if you don’t have room in the garden. I have it nestled in one of my raised beds.

Brazelberries 'Pink Icing' blueberry

Brazelberries ‘Pink Icing’ blueberry – image courtesy of Garden Media Group

4. Heuchera ‘Forever Purple’
My heuchera list seems to be growing. As I mentioned in a past issue of Garden Making magazine, I have a thing for heucheras and their wide range of foliage choices. This purple number is a great accent plant in the garden. It could also show up in one of my containers, depending on my colour scheme.

Heuchera 'Forever Purple'

Heuchera ‘Forever Purple’ – image by Tony Post, Valleybrook Gardens


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4 Responses to Four perennials with fantastic foliage

  1. Lesley Dunn says:

    know some colorful foliage plants for shade, but need as many ideas as possible. Moderate to heavy shade. thanks.

    • savvygardening says:

      Hi Lesley, Brunnera has different varieties with some lovely variegated foliage. Of course there are multiple hostas to choose from. I enjoy my toad lilies and the wispy fronds on astilbe in the summer. Last year I fell in love with these Rex begonias: http://savvygardening.wpengine.com/snapped-shade-loving-rex-begonias-that-will-steal-the-show/ ~ Tara

    • Lesley Dunn says:

      I’m going to try the Rex Begonias. Would Japanese Forest Grass survive the shade?

    • savvygardening says:

      It depends how shady your area is… Japanese Forest Grass requires full sun to part shade, so if you put it in the least shady area, it might work. I would talk to the folks at your local nursery or garden centre as they’ll be able to help you choose plants that will thrive in your area and in your garden’s conditions! ~ Tara

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