Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day.

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.

Berberis thunbergii 'Golden Rocket' with Alstroemeria 'Ligtu Hybrid'

Berberis thunbergii ‘Golden Rocket’ with Alstroemeria ‘Ligtu Hybrid’

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.

Cornus alba Elegantissima' with white foxglove.

Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ with white foxglove.

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.

Hosta with Persicaria affinis 'Superba'

Hosta with Persicaria affinis ‘Superba’

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.

Aesculus hippocastanum

Aesculus hippocastanum

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.

Sylvia atricapillla. Blackcap

Sylvia atricapillla. Blackcap

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.

Regulus regulus. Goldcrest

Regulus regulus. Goldcrest

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.

Acer platanoides 'Drummondii'

Acer platanoides ‘Drummondii’

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.

Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea'

Cornus alternifolia ‘Argentea’

You don’t often see the blue- leaved Berberis temolaica which comes from Tibet.

Berberis temolaica

Berberis temolaica

And if it is purple foliage you like then Nandina domestica ‘Plum Passion’ is a real eye-catcher.

Nandina domestica 'Plum Passion'

Nandina domestica ‘Plum Passion’

But of course, nothing can compete with the Forest Pansy,Cercis canadensis for gorgeous reddy-purple leaves.

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis

And the purple smoke tree Cotinus coggrygia ‘Notcutt’s Variety’ is looking its best right now with a haze of purple ‘smoke’.

Cotinus coggygria 'Notcutt's Variety'

Cotinus coggygria ‘Notcutt’s Variety’

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.


DSC_0659On 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.

Rose 'Felicite Perpetue

Rose ‘Felicité Perpetué’

I have quite a few ferns but the most showy at the moment is the Royal fern; Osmunda regalis which likes boggy ground.

Osmunda regalis

Osmunda regalis


The next ones are quite ordinary, but they grow huge in the damp soil along the old wall.
Last year I found an old brick path along here.

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.

Angelica sylvestris 'Ebony'

Angelica sylvestris ‘Ebony’

The other one is called Angelica hispanica and it looks as if the leaves have been polished with wax.

Angelica hispanica

Angelica hispanica

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.

Salvia officinalis 'Purpurescens'

Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurescens’

Eryngium is another sun-lover with gorgeous metallic spiny leaves.


Eryngium bourgatii

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.

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46 Responses to Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day.

  1. Christina says:

    Well done for reminding me it is GBFD Liz; this is the first time I have forgotten! My post will be up later. Your garden is looking wonderful and I love CL’s quote; I have to agree with him and you that without good foliage is garden is really rather uninteresting, it is the foliage that makes all the flowers look beautiful. Although a blank canvas sounds good I think to have mature trees is better, something you can’t achieve quickly and they make a wonderful backdrop to all your planting.

  2. Quite beautiful….and it would stir my heart to have a Winthrop mulberry….

  3. Pingback: GBFD – Green June – Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

  4. Gosh what an awesome garden. I love that Cercis canadensis and I may be able to find room in my small town garden -I’ll work on it this autumn.

  5. What a beautiful garden. I thoroughly enjoyed your tour. Living in a subtropical climate, we can have some very colorful foliage, but any kind of foliage enhances a garden.

  6. Liz, your garden is spectacular, thank you for showing it. Love the Pagoda Dogwood, I have not seen one before and I like the Horse Chestnuts, such a wonderful texture to the foliage on foliage day. I thought the first picture was a Bougainvillea!

  7. You’ve got some really lovely combinations of flowers with foliage on show. I love all the dark-leaved examples, especially the cercis, but I’ve never seen a dark nandina before. I really like that.

    • Chloris says:

      The Nandina ‘Plum Passion’ is fabulous, well worth looking out for. It looks wonderful in the sun. I couldn’ t get a really satisfactory shot of it.

  8. Tina says:

    A gorgeous display of so many garden things–foliage, birds, pathways–the whole thing. I also like the name ‘Superbum’–why would anyone change that?? The Acer platanoides ‘Drummondii’ is stunning–I would love to look at that everyday. Lovely June garden.

  9. Your Osmundia regalis is lovely. Maybe I should mix some in with my Ostrich Ferns. There could be a Fern fight as they struggle for dominance. I like your borrowed trees. Our back garden benefits from big old trees on the neighbors’ properties: elms, cottonwoods, mulberries, etc.

    • Chloris says:

      It is wonderful to have the benefit of trees all round. My back garden is very sheltered as a result, even though we live on the top of a windy hill. Osmunda regalis is indeed very regal, but it does need a very damp soil.

  10. gardenfancyblog says:

    What a wide variety of different shrubs and trees you have in your garden, with all their contrasting leaves — I think I might be starting to appreciate foliage more than I did a few years ago, although flowers are still my true love. Thanks for pointing out all the interest in your many kinds of foliage. -Beth

  11. I love all your mature trees. Your garden has always looked quite large to me abut I suppose the definition of a small garden in California and a small garden in the UK are two very different things. One day I’d love to add a purple smoke tree to my garden.

    • Chloris says:

      I suppose the garden is quite big, it is over an acre. But my last one was nearly 11 acres, so I had room to indulge all sorts of fancies. I even had a small arboretum which was wonderful as I love trees so much. Smoke trees are beautiful, my daughter has just bought a golden one which I have never seen before.

  12. So many very good points here. I’m a fan of mixing and being creative with foliage–it can be just as fascinating as colorful blooms. In the shade, the effect isn’t quite as dramatic, but it can be quite beautiful if the forms and heights are as variable as the foliage colors.

  13. Flighty says:

    A most enjoyable post and wonderful pictures. I appreciate foliage in all it’s many colours and forms. That’s a terrific looking Acer.
    Lucky you seeing a Goldcrest, I’ve only ever seen one of these tiny birds. xx

    • Chloris says:

      I can’ t imagine what the goldcrest was doing in my greenhouse, they are such pretty little birds. I love acers, they have such dramatic foliage. They are quite easy from seed too, I have several babies coming on.

  14. pbmgarden says:

    An amazing property. Spectacular items to enjoy at every turn. I like the quote at the beginning of your post.

  15. rusty duck says:

    Lovely to see the longer views of your garden, it’s looking splendid.
    I still have a Lilium superbum. I hope that one hasn’t changed its name..

  16. Wonderful. As I scroll down I try to remember the comments I am going to make, by the time I get to the end I forgotten so have to start again. This is a good thing. I will say again, you have a wonderful garden. Thanks for sharing.

  17. bittster says:

    What an enjoyable post, they’re always so entertaining even though they’re ‘just’ about plants.
    I know it was a foliage post, but those rose buds…. wow! I thought you had already shown all your roses, guess there are plenty to come.
    Did I miss this year’s big project unveiling? I seem to remember you saying you were working on something special but now I can’t remember seeing the results.

  18. Chloris says:

    Thank you Frank. I have plenty of ramblers still in bud. My new project is yet to be unveiled, it’s nearly, but not quite finished. Next month it should be ready and I will write a post about it.

  19. Cathy says:

    There is a lot of truth in that quote I think. Thank you for sharing some of your foliage with us – and reminding us of the leaves! You have some useful neighbouring boundaries which work well in a garden your size. Intriguiging to see your goldcrest – hope he found his way out

  20. snowbird says:

    Your mystery plant looks like some sort of celery plant…I have something similar that smells like celery when you rub the stalk.
    I do like the self seeded white foxglove, what a great spec for it, there are so many lovely combinations all contrasting with each other. Superbum had me smiling! You do indeed have a beautiful green cocoon, how lucky to be surrounded by trees, we have neighbours brick walls and roads to try and hide here.
    Nightingales???? Really, that’s fantastic, I’m extremely jealous!!! Poor blackcap, windows are such hazards and how pitiful the poor things look lying there. We get goldcrest chicks in the rescue, their beaks are minute! I shudder before feeding them!
    I love that mulberry tree, I always remember the post you wrote re the village one, a work of genius that was!xxx

    • Chloris says:

      I remember the name now. It does look like a celery but it is called Cenolophium denudatum. It makes much more of a statement than the popular Amni or Orlaya. And it is perennial. Sadly, the nightingales have gone now. And I didn’ t realise we had blackcaps until I found this dead one.
      I am glad you enjoyed my mulberry tree story.

  21. Your garden views are splendid, Chloris. And I even saw a lovely bench and a few chairs to rest during my tour of your grounds! (smile)

  22. Chloris says:

    Thank you Cynthia. Yes I have quite a few places to sit dotted about the garden. Actually finding time to sit in them is a bit of a problem. As soon as I sit down, I see something that needs doing.

  23. Peter/Outlaw says:

    While a blank slate would be nice, your mature trees are wonderful. You are very lucky to have so many trees on your neighboring properties as well because they make it seem as if your garden goes on as far as the eye can see. Fabulous foliage all but your blue berberis is especially gorgeous!

  24. homeslip says:

    I really enjoy these informative tours around your garden Chloris. I learn so much and I especially appreciate your long shot photos so I feel as if I’m actually walking around accompanied by your excellent commentary. I also love the close-up peeks at your many treasures. Thank you. Do real gardeners ever sit down? I know Monty is often extolling us to sit and enjoy our gardens, but it is so hard. I think this is why I love visiting gardens so much. Not inly for the inspiration but for the opportunity to sit and just be in a beautiful garden.

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