form and foliage

Year round garden interest with minimal care


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Winter Wonderland – California Style

conifers, leucadendron, cordyline

Winter in the foliage garden is often even more colorful than summer

We think of a winter wonderland as a landscape covered with snow, glazed and glistening, soft and serene. But for those of us who never receive snow’s purifying blanket, wonderland in winter is provided by the cold-weather hues of the conifers, the enduring, often colorful, leaves and bracts of broad-leaved evergreens and the ornamentation provided by berries, stems and seeds. Above, starting on the left,  the Thuja occidentalis ‘Rheingold’ (hardy to USDA Zone 3) wears an apricot winter coat (it’s yellow in the summer months), the Juniperus communis ‘Berkshire'(Zone 2) turns from blue-green to a rich plum color in the cold weather, the Cordyline banksii ‘Electric Flash’ (Zone 9), Pinus mugo ‘Pal Maleter’ (Zone 2), Leucadendron ‘Ebony’ (Zone 9), Loropetalum chinensis (Zone 7) and Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Greenstead Magnificent’ (Zone 7) are electric and magnificent all year-round. This rich horticultural tapestry is not difficult to achieve and creates a wonderland in the dead of winter.

barberry, Sweetgum, big cone pinyon pine tree

Winter color on Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Rocket’ and Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Gumball’ are a dazzling combination with the icy blue juvenile foliage of Pinus maximartinezii.

Some of the winter colors come from the deciduous trees that are late to turn and even later to drop their leaves. Both the barberry (Zone 5) and sweetgum (Zone 5) above hold their leaves well into December in this zone, and by planting them near a blue-needled conifer, in this case big-cone pinyon pine (Zone 9), we get the dramatic effect provided by   complementary colors (color wheel-opposites).

Abies pinsapo 'Horstmann', Cordyline 'Design-a-Line Burgundy

A rich but more muted display comes from the analogous (adjacent on the color wheel) colors of blue and red. The rusty buds of the fir echo the dusky maroon of the Cordyline (Zone 9b).

Abies pinsapo, Spanish fir, has many cultivars that are garden-worthy. ‘Horstmann’, (Zone 6) pictured above, is slow growing and diminutive relative to its wild parents. Its blue-green needles are lovely themselves, but its russet buds, which are carried through the dormant season, provide additional interest. Note the contrast in shapes and textures of the two plants, as well as the lively color combination.

Beautyberry, dogwood, conifers

Brilliant display: Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ , Cornus sanguinia ‘Midwinter Fire’, Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’

Some plants are dramatic in winter yet would barely catch your notice in other months. The above trio provides stunning color: the Callicarpa (Zone 5) with itpurple berries, the Persian ironwood (Zone 4) cloaked in golden leaves, and Midwinter Fire dogwood’s (Zone 5) brilliant stems. However, all are unassuming in shape, color and texture for most of the year. It’s only when the weather turns cold that they erupt into this colorful display. And as if that weren’t enough, the ‘Motherlode’ (Zone 3) and ‘Blue Star’ (Zone 4) junipers and ‘Shirome-janome’ Japanese black pine (Zone 5) provide golden and blue highlights.

Monterey cypress, Australian plants

Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Greenstead Magnificent’ and Cordyline ‘Cha Cha’

Weak winter sun creates pleasing shadows and highlights, unlike summer’s harsh overhead glare. The Monterey cypress cultivar on the left, ‘Greenstead Magnificent’ shows off its sea-green color and tweedy texture much better in winter than summer, and the Cordyline’s delicate straps are teased and separated by the weak light. Cold also brings out its pink highlights.

Opuntia santarita 'Tubac'

Don’t ignore the color and texture that garden art and sculpture can add

Some inanimate additions can pump up the color and texture, such as ceramics or water features. The celadon ball intensifies the Echeveria‘s (Zone 9) color and the water reflects the Opuntia santa-rita ‘Tubac’ (Zone 8) as it is touched by the morning sun.

succulents and conifers

Agave vilmoriniana ‘Stained Glass’ and Yucca desmetiana ‘Blue Boy’ steal the show in this shot

The glazed ball dominates the Echeveria, but when we step back we see it in context with the larger plants. It still provides textural and structural contrast, but the ‘Stained Glass’ octopus agave (Zone 9) and the clump of ‘Blue Boy’ yucca (Zone 7) are hard to compete with!

Cousin Itt Acacia, Agave Quasimodo

Agave ‘Cornelius’ (Zone 9) and Acacia cognata ‘Mini-Cog’ (Cousin Itt)

Although we’ve been focusing on other colors, brilliant green is just as dramatic in winter as purple or orange, especially when it is contrasted with yellow and gold, as in the above photo. Acacia Cousin Itt (Zone 9) is mouthwateringly verdant all year round, but we really appreciate it in winter’s soft light, especially when highlighted with nearby yellow foliage.

conifers

In winter the low setting sun ignites the golden foliage

The yellow foliage, already a winter beacon, becomes downright fiery when hit by the late afternoon sun. Even the drabber colors, such as that of the tall Cunninghamia unicanaliculata (China fir, Zone 7) in the above photo, lights up like a torch.

Echeveria agavoides 'Prolifera', Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty'

Many succulents become colorful due to the stress of cold weather

Like many conifers, a goodly number of succulents take on added hues in winter. The Echeveria agavoides ‘Prolifera'(Zone 9) pictured above looks like it is wearing nail polish, but it’s just its response to colder weather. The Lomandra ‘Platinum Beauty’, (Zone 8) on the other hand, is always beautiful!

Graptoveria, Sedum pork and beans, palms, aloe

We’ve shown you this shot before – it’s a combo that won’t quit, no matter the time of year

We also appreciate our workhorses: the plants that look lovely all year round, need little to no maintenance and don’t quickly outgrow their spaces, such as the Aloe arborescens, (zone 8), Chamerops humilus ‘Cerifera’ (zone 8), Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’ (Zone 9) and Sedum rubrotinctum (Zone 9) pictured above. Cold weather doesn’t stop their display, rather, it adds more red highlights to the Sedum. Even if you are in a colder zone, you can  plan for at least one part of your garden that looks good in all seasons.

cedars, conifers

Let’s not forget the blues!

We tend to love the warm colors in winter but blue can be just as colorful and dramatic. The combination of Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’ (Zone 6) and Cedrus deodara ‘Prostrate Beauty’ (Zone 7), together with a variety of blue-foliaged succulents makes and icy display in front of the golden needles of Thuja occidentalis ‘Malonyana’ (Zone 4) and the lingering leaves of Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyk Gold’ (Zone 4).

But sometimes you go into the garden and find serendipitous color combinations, such as when the deep orange leaf of a Liquidambar dropped into the arms of an Abies concolor ‘Blue Cloak’ (Zone 3). Backlit by the weak winter sun, it is surely one of the season’s garden jewels.

Abies concolor, Liquidambar styraciflua

A sweetgum leaf nestles in the needles of a California white fir

A very happy new year from Form and Foliage!

 

Note: USDA minimum zones are provided as a guide; many factors contribute to a plant’s success, including maximum cold temperatures, humidity, summer heat (especially at night), etc. 

 

 

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Summertime Blues

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Chamaerops humilis var. argentea, Atlas mountain palm

When the weather is hot, we look to cool blues for relief. We’ve written about blues in autumn, when they contrast strikingly with the fiery colors of the changing foliage, but in summer, especially late summer when we are tired of the heat, we like a splash of blue almost anywhere. The palm pictured above is hardy to about 10 degrees fahrenheit, so it is not a tropical. It’s short and clump-forming, so easy to mix with other kinds of plants.

Chamerops humilis var argentea, Brahea armata

Blue repeats through the border from the Picea pungens ‘Blue Stoplight’ to the Atlas mountain palm and finally the blue hesper palm in back

There are lots of blue palms, many of which are cold-hardy. For a bigger plant with specimen status, try the Mexican Brahea armata.

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Brahea armata, blue hesper palm, from Baja California

Palms provide a very different texture and structure than other plants. Because we think of them as tropical, we hesitate to mix them with temperate species. But many palms are also temperate and grow happily among conifers and succulents in their native ranges.

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This silvery blue Puya cools down the heat from the Japanese maple in front of it.

There are lots of succulents and succulent-like plants in shades of blue. You can also add blue with pots or other ceramics.

succulents

The glossy ceramic globe matches the aqua of the Echeveria

Many rocks have blue tones and can help keep the apparent temperature down. In this garden in Roseville, Oregon, the stonework gets outdone by the spruce, though!

Picea pungens

Colorado blue spruce might just be the bluest foliage plant there is

There are many blue conifers, beginning with Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens). There is probably not a more maligned suburban landscape tree, due to the enormous size the species attains. Happily, there are many cultivars that are slow-growing and garden-friendly. In the shot above the spruce cools down the entire garden.

Cedrus deodara 'Feelin' Blue', Cedrus atlantica 'Sahara Ice'

PInus maximartinezii is another very blue conifer, as is the Cedrus ‘Feelin’ Blue’ to the right

The blue comes from waxes that the plant carries outside its leaf cuticles, which retard absorption of certain wavelengths of light.

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Podocarpus elongata ‘Monmal’ (Icee Blue) has a turquoise cast

For those that can grow it (it’s tender), Podocarpus Icee Blue is the ultimate summer cooler.  A blade-leaved conifer (instead of needles), it works with a multitude of shrubs to bring down the hot summer temps.

So plant blue to cool down your summer and heat up your fall!

 


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This rainbow doesn’t just END in gold!

landscape design, shrubs and trees

A rainbow over the foliage garden after a sun shower

 

Generally the winter skies in Sonoma County are the most dramatic; the low sun lighting up the clouds and sky all shades of orange and pink. We were missing them the other day when we had a bout of unsettled weather, with rain and hail followed by brilliant sunshine. The setting sun lit up the sky where it was not still covered by glowering clouds. The result was bands of brilliance alternating with deep, rich hues.

Eucalyptus globulus

That Eucalyptus is GREEN. Not this evening!

Moving in a little closer, you can see four yellow trees in the background. The two on the left are, indeed, fairly yellow in normal light. They are two cultivars of Cupressus macrocarpa, our native Monterey cypress. The one on the far left is ‘Citriodora’, the next one in is ‘Coneybearii Aurea’. They were lit up like beacons on this rainy afternoon. The yellow tree on the right is a Japanese maple called ‘Mizuho Beni’. It’s quite yellow, too, but generally doesn’t look like it has an on-off switch. What was really amazing, though, is that the Eucalyptus globulus, second in from the right, is ordinarily a solid gray-green. This afternoon’s light makes it look positively radioactive!

Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum

The near ground was in shadow, providing dramatic contrast to the fiery trees behind.

In the shot above, the Japanese maple is now on the left, in the background. You can see lots of other yellow trees back there, although none of them are yellow, they are just on fire!

Brahea armata

The other side of the rainbow ends in gold, too!

The band of gold went from horizon to horizon, wrapping the garden in brilliance.

Foliage garden

We just couldn’t get enough of this light. The trees seemed to get brighter and brighter.

So now we won’t just look for dramatic skies in winter. Spring has shown us that it can hold its own!

 


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Winter Finery – Bright Spots on Dull Days

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Colors pop in the low light and overcast skies of winter days.

We love the soft light of winter and how it shows almost everything to advantage. In the shot above, conifers, yucca and the lingering leaves of a mix of deciduous trees illuminate the landscape. It put us in a party mood, so we thought we’d check out what’s being worn this season.

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Juniperus cedrus foliage has a distinctly two-toned tweedy look.

Tweeds are always a favorite in the winter months, and Canary Islands juniper wears a blue-green version, with a double-white stomatal band which acts like flecks of white on the darker cloth. If you suspect hyperbole, compare to the ‘real’ thing:

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Harris tweed

The subdued, workmanlike tweed needs a bit of livening up, so we looked for something peppier to pair it with. Perhaps the tapestry of winter-tinged leaves of Hydrangea quercifolia? The oak-leaf hydrangea is the only member of its clan that can take full sun and doesn’t require a lot of water, making it suitable for drought-tolerant gardens. We think that the winter foliage beats the summer bloom:

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Hydrangea quercifolia (oak leaf hydrangea) in winter.

Is nature imitating art or is art imitating nature?

tapestry

Damask upholstery fabric

What accessorizes the garden’s tweeds and damasks? A winning strategy is to seek contrasts of color, form and texture. A shiny patent leather would work well with the soft, light-absorbing fabrics.

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Coprosma repens ‘Plum Hussey’

The shiny purple-burgundy foliage of the mirror plant, Coprosma, would certainly do the job. ‘Red Jewel’ barberry’s brighter, glossy foliage also caught our eye:

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Berberis x media ‘Red Jewel’

Decisions, decisions!

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What to wear?

While we’re enjoying the finery, we thought we’d do our hair. Banksia spinulosa ‘Schnapper Point’, or koala blooms banksia, has candle-like (or curler-like!) blossoms that stick out through the foliage. This year it was extremely floriferous so we can cover ourselves in curls.

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Banksia spinulosa ‘Schnapper Point’. Loofahs? Curlers?

curlers

We’re going for a pre-Raphaelite look.

So what about jewels? We found that Ilex x attenuata ‘Longwood Gold’ has lovely orange beadlike berries. This natural hybrid of two native North American hollies is rarely seen in cultivation and we don’t know why. It makes a perfect pairing with orange libertia.

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Perfect pair: Ilex ‘Longwood Gold’ and Libertia peregrinans.

Now we just have to collect and string the beads:

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Beads or holly berries?

Now that we’re all dressed, a bit of cosmetic enhancement is in order. Lipstick, nail polish and blush, in the wintery shade of brilliant red.

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Leucadendron ‘Jester’ wears scarlet-tipped fingers.

nail-polish

No gardener has hands like this, however.

And now, the finishing touch. We’re completing our outfit with a fan. We just have to choose which one. This Brahea armata is simply loaded with them.

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Mexican blue palm (Brahea armata) is loaded with fan-shaped fronds.

Here’s the one that we finally chose:

fan

Understated but elegant.

Now there is nothing left to do but to wait for Prince Charming. It may be a long wait. The coach is simply not materializing.

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Still looks like a pumpkin…

What kind of finery do you have in your winter garden?

 


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A Berry Happy New Year from Form and Foliage!

foliage gardening, broadleaved evergreens

California buckthorn (Rhamnus californica) ‘Eve Case’ has deep purple berries in winter.

The solstice has passed and the new year is upon us. This is supposedly the drabbest, dreariest time in the garden. To disabuse all of the belief that that must be so, we present a gallery of berries to enjoy as we wave farewell to the old year and welcome the new.

malus, ornamental fruit

‘Professor Sprenger’ crabapple is known for its lovely springtime apple-blossom pink flowers, but oh the fall and winter fruit!

Malus

‘Professor Sprenger’ fruit up close

 

crabapple, Malus

Even the immature fruit of ‘Professor Sprenger’ is decorative.

 

Berberis wilsoniae, Berberis wilsonii, ornamental berries

Wilson’s barberry berries range in color from flamingo to salmon, and contrast beautifully with the glaucus foliage.

The genus Berberis, or barberry, has some of the most ornamental berries of any group of plants. From the subtle tones of the Wilson’s barberry pictured above, to much larger, robust fruit on our native California Berberis aquifolium, these plants decorate the winter landscape. When lacquered by raindrops even the berries of the most common species, Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), are strikingly beautiful. (note: Japanese barberry is invasive in many areas. Seek sterile cultivars if you wish to add this plant to your landscape.)

American barberry, foliage gardening, ornamental berries

The berries of Berberis aquifolium (formerly Mahonia aquifolium). It’s easy to see why the common name is Oregon grape-holly!

 

Berberis thunbergii, berries, foliage gardening

Japanese barberry fruit on a rainy winter day.

Berries are a great way of adding purple to your fall and winter garden, and there are a variety of trees and shrubs that bear berries of regal hues.

Chilean myrtle, foliage gardening

Luma apiculata has shiny purply-black berries that last for months.

 

'Profusion' beautyberry

For purple punch, though, it’s hard to beat beautyberry! (This specimen is Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldi ‘Profusion’).

 

foliage gardening, evergreen plants

California native Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon) can hold its own in a berry contest.

 

ornamental berries, foliage gardening

Cotoneaster berries can be very decorative, but make sure to select only non-invasive species.

 

foliage gardening, ornamental berries

Cotoneaster buxifolius is commonly called bright bead cotoneaster. It has an attractive low, spreading habit and wears its berries for months in winter.

 

foliage gardening

Sarcococca ruscifolia (sweet box) is grown primarily for its fragrant flowers, but don’t forget the ensuing berries !

 

Nandina domestica is overplanted, and paradoxically, under-appreciated. Try the ‘Compacta’ version for a more manageably-sized shrub. The cultivars with dramatic foliage generally do not bear fruit, so go with the old standby for winter berry interest.

Heavenly bamboo

Berries on Nandina domestica ‘Compacta’ last for months in the garden, weeks if brought inside as holiday decor.

 

And of course we cannot leave out the traditional holiday berry, the holly! There are many kinds of holly, most with red berries, but some have golden or yellow fruit. Some even have variegated leaves.

Ilex, foliage gardening

Holly is the traditional winter holiday berry.

 

So if your garden is dull on a winter’s day, put ‘berries’ on your gardening shopping list for spring. We have a tendency to buy plants when they are in bloom and most of us don’t visit nurseries during the off-season, so you need to think ‘winter’ even when you’re shopping in April. You will be rewarded when December rolls around.

Here’s to a berry wonderful 2016 from Form and Foliage!

(Note: some berries are poisonous to humans or certain animals. If you have concerns about children or pets, please read about any plants that you are considering.)

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Hooray for the Red, White and Blue!

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Acer tataricum Hot Wings (‘GarAnn’) lights up the garden with explosions of red!

Today the Internet teems with photos of red, white and blue flowers, and there are many lovely combinations. We find Old Glory’s colors in the foliage garden, too. Reds abound in seed pods and new leaves.

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New leaves on Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea Pendula’ are bright red.

The weeping purple beech above is getting in on the act with a few late new leaves, which are red as can be and belie its otherwise dignified appearance.

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Gunnera prorepens has firecracker flowers and a martial-sounding name.

We admit that the red from Gunnera prorepens is from its flowers, not its leaves, but we use it for its chocolatey leaves and consider the flowers a bonus.

pampas grass

Cortadera selloana ‘Silver Comet’ has white stripes down its long leaves and is sterile, so not invasive.

White is easy to find, too! The pampas grass in the photo above lights up the garden with its largely white foliage.

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Sorbaria sorbifolia buds and blossoms

False spirea (Sorbaria sorbifolia), an Asian member of the Rose family, graces the foliage garden with lovely new foliage, decent fall color, and a riotous display of crackling white flowers in mid-summer.

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White can be subtle, too, as in this Zelkova serrata ‘Green Mansions’

Blues abound, especially in succulents and conifers.

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Agave ‘Blue Glow’ up close – it even has red edges!

Picea pungens 'Lucretia'

Colorado blue spruce is blue blue blue!

Picea pungens (Colorado blue spruce) has so many cultivars that it is hard to keep track. ‘Lucretia’, pictured above, is one of the smaller, slower-growing introductions that is easy to keep to a manageable size.

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Blue weeping Atlantic cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’

Lots of blue cedars, too.

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Pinus maximartinezii, the bluest of the pines.

There’s even a blue pine. It’s from Mexico, but happy to take part in the July 4th festivities.

We even found some firecrackers in the garden!

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Aloe flowers look like firecrackers about to explode

You can almost hear this one sizzle:

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Most aloes have orange flowers borne well above their leaves

And then, after the fireworks are over, the smoke drifts through the air…

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Artemisia versicolor ‘Sea Foam’ has a smoky look to it

 

Happy 4th of July to all!

 


8 Comments

The Color Purple

 

smoke bush

Picea pungens ‘Lucretia’ with Berberis wilsoniae and Cotinus x ‘Grace’

In spring the go-to colors are pastels, and the foliage garden certainly has its share of baby blues and soft yellows. However, they often share the garden space with deep, grown-up purple, which contrasts richly with the softer hues. Colorado blue spruce cultivars (Picea pungens cv.) are the quintessential powder blue foliage plants. When paired with other pastels, they have a demure persona, belying the strength inherent in their tough, spiky needles. Around purple, however, the blue acquires a steely note.

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Picea pungens ‘Lucretia’ against Cotinus x ‘Grace’ foliage

Purple works well as a background color, especially if you want the background to be, well, in back. Lighter colors draw the eye, darker ones recede. A purple background allows the plants in front to claim the attention.

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Eucalyptus pulverulenta ‘Baby Blue’ against the purply Cotinus x ‘Grace’

The Eucalyptus in the shot above is about as pastel as it gets, yet takes on a more sophisticated mien when backed by smoky Cotinus x ‘Grace’.

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The blues and greens  gain prominence when backed by purple

Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ is a lovely, if somewhat awkwardly shaped, small tree. Here it is planted behind a grouping of different shades of blues and greens and serves as a backdrop which adds richness to the scene and disguises its lanky branching.

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Picea pungens ‘Stoplight’ and Mangave ‘Macho Mocha’

Succulents are a good place to look for ‘evergreen’ purples; the Mangave above is another great companion for blue spruce. Not only do the colors provide fabulous contrast but the strappy leaves of the Mangave are a wonderful foil for the spruce’s small needles. And in true F&F fashion, these plants do the job all 12 months of the year.

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A richly hued combination of purple Sedum, yellow Chamaecyparis and orange-tinged grass

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Chaenomeles, Cotinus x ‘Grace’ and Juniperus conferta ‘All Gold’

For a stained glass effect, mix purple with other saturated tones such as the greens and yellows pictured above. Paired with the yellow the purple warms up and creates deep contrast to the other colors.

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This Cordyline has ‘burgundy’ in its name but to us it’s a reddish purple

There are many grass-like plants (and even some true grasses) that add purple to the garden. The Cordyline ‘Design-a-Line Burgundy’ in the photo above adds depth and flair to what would otherwise be a colorful but flat combination, and, like the Libertia peregrinans (the orange grass) and the blue spruce and holly, holds its leaves all year. Many Phormium come in shades of purple and for those that don’t mind the maintenance, there are several Pennisetum cultivars in deep purple tones.

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Leptospermum ‘Dark Shadows’, Cotinus x ‘Gracel and Cordyline ‘Design-a-Line-Burgundy’ repeat the purple notes

Colors work best when they are not isolated; don’t hesitate to echo the tones throughout the garden. If you look carefully at the above photo you will also see a bit of purple in the far back about 3/4 of the way across the photo, as well as some purple tones on the plant in the immediate middle front.

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Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ is really dark purple

Apparently the colors ‘Blue’ and ‘Black’ sell better than the color purple. There are many plants sold as blue or black that are really purple, such as the Sambucus (elderberry) above. Remember, when selecting your plants, go by what the foliage looks like, not what the label promises. This Sambucus is deep wine-purple, and can be grown as a large shrub or limed up to make a small tree.

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Picea pungens ‘Fastigata’ and Coprosma ‘Plum Hussey’

Purple gets more subtle in plants with two-toned leaves like the ‘Plum Hussey’ mirror plant. This cultivar of the New Zealand Coprosma leafs out bright green and the older leaves take on purple-tinged edges until the cold weather comes and drenches them in a deep, plummy coat. You can see Cotinus x ‘Grace’ in the background, striking, as befitting,  a grace note. We can’t seem to stop pairing our purples with light blue, can we?

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The Cordyline in back and the beech in front stake their claim for purple in this mixed foliage garden

The genus Fagus, or beech, is another good place to go purple-hunting. In the shot above the tones of the large Cordyline in the back are picked up and carried forward by the glossy purple beech. The Yucca ‘Blue Boy’ (really purple, but that didn’t make for the alliterative name) in the lower right hand corner continues the theme.

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Yucca desmetiana ‘Blue Boy’ (not to us, it’s not!)

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Fagus sylvatica ‘Rohanii’ leaves up close

Beech trees (Fagus sp.) are  welcome additions to gardens that are climate-appropriate because of not only their beautifully colored and textured leaves–at once both glossy and fuzzy–but also their elegant, silky bark which graces the winter landscape. They do best in spots with ample rainfall but once established will manage fine in even mild Mediterranean climates with little more water than some of the drought-hardy standbys.

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Podocarps elongates ‘Monmal’ (Icee Blue) is flanked by Hebe ‘Amy’ for a subtle hint of purple

Purple doesn’t have to be bold or strident; there are many plants with purple leaf edges or undersides, like Hebe ‘Amy’ in the photo above. ‘Amy’ also has purple flowers, but they are ephemeral. The leaves and stems are purple all year long.

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Abies x arnoldiana ‘Poulsen’

For real subtlety, treat purple as an ornament, the way that one might wear an amethyst ring or a garnet brooch. The cones on the ‘Poulsen’ fir are luscious, deep purple and decorate the shrub for months in spring and early summer.

Get your purple on!