GBFD June – Coloured Foliage

The 22nd means Garden Bloggers Foliage Day, hosted by Christina at My Hesperides Garden.

Being winter, foliage is more important than ever to define the structure of the garden as flowers have all but retreated during the chilly weather.

Here are just some of the ones that are looking great despite really cold weather that has damaged so much of the garden – I think that the variegated pittosporum (Pittosporum eugenoides) looks particularly lovely after a light dusting of snow about a week ago:


Variegated pittosporum

It has also been unharmed during the present weeks of frosty weather and is easily hardy to USDA zone 7/8 (RHS zone H5)

One of the conifers in the garden is this beauty: Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’ – the dwarf Hinoki Cypress


Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’

I just love the parsley-like foliage on this one and the fact that it retains its pretty lime green foliage even in the coldest weather. It was here when I bought the house, and despite being about 40 years old, it is only approx. 2.5m (9′) tall. This plant has a wide hardiness range: USDA 5 – 11 (RHS Zone H7).

Another brightly coloured plant in the garden is the common bugle weed. But this is a brightly variegated sport that appeared in a clients garden – they didn’t want it, so I took it:


Ajuga reptans ‘Variegata’

In spring it will have the typical bugle-weed flowers, which will probably clash hideously with the foliage, but it will make a pretty groundcover for most of the year. Again, this is a tough plant and is hardy between USDA zones 3 – 9 (RHS Zone H7).

It isn’t one I imagine most people would rush out and get, but once it starts to fill out, it will look striking as a multi-coloured ground cover!

Happy Gardening 🙂


32 thoughts on “GBFD June – Coloured Foliage

  1. Matt I do like the conifer foliage, it is so unusual to any I have seen before and nice especially in winter when foliage is sparse, I like bugle and never think of it as a weed, I was given a small piece when I was on Scalpay and I brought it here, the bees love the flowers, I have the purple version which has tiny deep blue flowers, good that you gave it a home, Frances

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    • Thanks Frances! It is good when it is seen in large swathes as a groundcover, I’m not sure about the multi-coloured version just yet in terms of harmonious integration to the rest of the garden, but it sure is pretty on its own

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  2. I know how hardy bugle weed is. Anything that will grow in our harsh summer conditions is a score and that variegated variety is a big score, especially for winter when there isn’t much going on in the garden.

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    • It’s such a beauty and unlike so many ‘dwarf’ conifers that turn out to be 30′ tall in 5 years, this one is just perfectly shaped and is perfectly contained and green despite the ice. It’s worth hunting down!

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  3. Variegated Ajuga has become very popular here and is found almost as often as the green forms in our garden centers. My ‘Burgundy Glow’ seemed to die out more quickly than the solid green varieties but it is a pretty groundcover.

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  4. Frankly I can’t quite understand reluctance over the Ajuga. It looks like an exciting plant to work with! I can only sigh over the Chamaecyparis. One can’t have everything… I love the way they are emphatically structural and yet soft and inviting at the same time. Thuja occidentalis is another favourite for the same reasons. Hope you are staying warm!

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    • I think once the ajuga fills out, it will start to make a rather lovely statement.
      The conifers are great, aren’t they? I’ve planted about 6 Thuja occidentalis ‘smaragd’ in the garden, so I am looking forward to them getting a bit of size. They haven’t held their green as well in this cold though, going that odd bronze.


      • I would have thought ‘smaragd’ would hold its colour better. Wonder whether that might improve as they mature… I can certainly vouch for the sturdiness of those plants. I had a lovely young trio of ‘Emerald Green’ that survived the great ice storm of whatever-year-it-was. Their tops (and the tallest must have been around 10 ft at least) were bent over by the weight of the ice and frozen to the ground for a couple of days or more. None of them broke, and by the end of the next summer they were upright again. Terrific trees!

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      • I hope so, I have seen a few other taller specimens around here that appear to be greener; I think it is because they are only a few inches tall and the ice is pretty thick at that height. But I agree, such beauties!!!!


  5. I’ve also several Pittosporum in the garden, Tom Thumb being my favourite. It can sulk a bit in rare persistent cold spells but picks up again in spring. Ajuga reptans is growing everywhere…some might call it a weed but when it flowers and the bees hover around it, it looks rather heavenly. How do you spend your winter days? Do you read garden books?

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    • They are great plants! I love the cold, so at the moment I have been carving new beds out of the grass (when the soil isn’t too frozen) – there is still almost 1000m2 area of the garden that I haven’t even made a start on in terms of clearing weeds, grass and boulders, so I will be busy for a few more winters to come!

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      • It is great being able to build a garden from scratch. I’ve only been here about a year and a half; and I didn’t start the garden until the building work was done about a year ago

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