form and foliage

Year round garden interest with minimal care


10 Comments

Winter Finery – Bright Spots on Dull Days

lecocq_20161225_1077-edit

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:

tweed

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!

patent-leather-shoes

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:

beads

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?

 


4 Comments

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.)

 

 

 

 

 

 


16 Comments

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.)