In his book: Foliage Plants, Christopher Lloyd wrote: ‘For it is an indisputable fact that appreciation of foliage comes at a late stage in our education, if it comes at all’. I suppose learning to love leaves is an acquired taste, a bit like olives. As gardeners, we start of with beautiful blooms and then gradually realise how much better they look if set off by lovely foliage.
This foxglove put itself here, which was very tasteful of it as it lights up a dark corner and is perfectly matched with the cornus.
The beautifully named Polygonum bistorta ‘Superbum’ has now been changed to Persicaria affinis ‘Superba’ which is a shame if you have a childish sense of humour. I have always referred to this plant as ‘Superbum’. Anyway, whatever its name it looks good growing with blue leaved hostas. For some reason these hostas by the big pond don’t get eaten by slugs. Maybe the frog population keeps them down.
Green is a Colour.
By June, if we live in the country, we are surrounded by green. And how lovely it is. When I had a bigger garden I toyed with the idea of making a small enclosed garden, using just different shades, shapes and textures of green foliage. How calming and restful it would be. Here, I haven’t really got room to indulge such fancies, but when I look out of the window today, despite all the colourful blooms, I realise that what I have, is a green cocoon.
Landscape gardeners talk about using ‘borrowed landscape‘ to enhance your own. Apart from a glimpse of our old church tower, I don’t have any views to borrow. But I have borrowed trees, in fact I am surrounded by them. We have the benefit of the huge cedar tree and the birch tree in the old rectory garden. The tree on the left is an Amelanchier lamarckii in our garden.
There is a small wood at the bottom of the garden and so we are incredibly sheltered and the garden feels like a woodland glade.
On the other side of the garden, somebody has planted two Horse Chestnuts which are really too big for a garden, but they add to the feeling of seclusion. But perhaps nobody planted them, it is quite likely that squirrels brought the conkers from the ancient Horse Chestnuts in the nearby church yard.
With so many trees around we have plenty of birds. Up until a couple of years ago we had nightingales. Unfortunately they seem to be getting scarcer everywhere. Another bird with a beautiful fluting song is the Blackcap. I was sad to find this little body lying on the terrace in front of the summer house. He must have flown into the window.
I was surprised to find this little chap in the greenhouse. He is a Goldcrest. I thought they lived in pine woods. Goldcrests are Britain’s tiniest birds.
When we came here, the garden was very overgrown and neglected and I often wished that I had a blank canvas to work on. But of course, it is wonderful to have mature trees like this weeping birch. I love the shadows and dappled shade.
The multi-stemmed tree on the left in the next picture is a mulberry. It has a tag on it saying that it was grown from a cutting of the historic tree in the village. This tree was reputed to have been planted in 1550 by Adam Winthrop, grandfather of John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts.
Another tree which lights up the garden in summer with creamy variegated leaves is the large Acer drummondii. It is lovely to sit in the shade of this tree on a hot summer’s day. It is not such a pleasure in the autumn when we have to clear up its leaves.
One of my favourite shrubs is the Pagoda Dogwood, Cornus alternifolia ‘Argentea’ It has a lovely habit with tiered, horizontal branching. Burncoose Nursery says this is difficult to propagate and slow-growing. I propagated this from one in my old garden and I have been astonished at how fast it has grown. It is very elegant.
You don’t often see the blue- leaved Berberis temolaica which comes from Tibet.
And if it is purple foliage you like then Nandina domestica ‘Plum Passion’ is a real eye-catcher.
But of course, nothing can compete with the Forest Pansy,Cercis canadensis for gorgeous reddy-purple leaves.
And the purple smoke tree Cotinus coggrygia ‘Notcutt’s Variety’ is looking its best right now with a haze of purple ‘smoke’.
In the front garden a previous owner has planted the golden philadelphus next to a yellow Phlomis fruticosa alongside the drive. I hate deadheading or pruning this phlomis as the fine hairs make me cough.
On the other side of the drive there are two silver-leaved weeping pears, Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’. Two seems a bit excessive to me, but never mind , they make good climbing frames for roses. Up one, I have put Rose ‘Veilchenblau’ which is still in bud and in the other ‘Felicité Perpetué’ which has pretty pink pompom flowers.
I have quite a few ferns but the most showy at the moment is the Royal fern; Osmunda regalis which likes boggy ground.
I love umbelliferous plants but Angelica archangelica seeds itself a bit too enthusiastically along here. This year I have found two new angelicas with much more exciting foliage. One of them is called Angelica sylvestris ‘Ebony’ and it as really dark purplish leaves and stems.
The other one is called Angelica hispanica and it looks as if the leaves have been polished with wax.
Another lovely umbelliferous plant is this one. I just can’t think of its name. I will probably think of it in the middle of the night. Meanwhile if anyone can remind me?
In the sun this purple-leaved sage is always eye-catching.
Eryngium is another sun-lover with gorgeous metallic spiny leaves.
I will save some more gorgeous foliage for another post. Garden Blogggers’ Foliage Day is hosted by Christina at Myhesperidegarden blog. Christina’s beautiful garden in Italy is enhanced by the most wonderful and artistic use of foliage which is an inspiration to us all.