Personal Garden Coach

The Motivational Gardener at Large

Choosing Winter Foliage That Says WOW! October 31, 2011

How do you choose your foliage palette for your garden? Does it vary from season to season or do you keep it a tight color scheme of just a couple of colors year round?

When I’m shopping and designing for a client in the Fall and Winter, it takes on a completely different feeling than in the abundant and effervescent summer when you can nearly throw a dart out in the nursery and hit combinations of plants that will play well together.

This time of the year I have to think much more about the textural effects and the vivid or subtle nature of foliage colors together. This raises my passion for this process to a whole new level. The challenge and yet sometimes the utter simplicity of this task when all is said and done are among my highest highs.

Recently, I had the fun opportunity to put together a couple of custom containers for a client to sell at a charity auction. I was short on time and even more short on plants at the ready. I made a special shopping trip to get a bunch of colorful options to go with the particular color of pots I had in mind.

The client’s only request was that they look very fall’ish. I was very pleased with the result, but even more so with the ease with which they went together. I based it on what I call my “Garanimals of Fall/Winter Plant List”. You can read more about this here. 

Carex 'Cappuccino', Leucothoe 'Rainbow', Heuchera 'Electra', Selaginella 'Aurea', Coprosma 'Tequila Sunrise', Euphorbia 'Helena's Blush', Creeping Wire Vine, Hebe

Now I’m onto another Fall and Winter design using foliage as the focus. I picked up a whole bunch of plants the other day and as I unloaded them from my car, I was tickled at what a great start I had from just the plants sitting in the driveway in boxes!

Tomorrow I go to get another load to go with them, since I have to get enough large-scale plants for three large containers. I’ll be looking for Nandina, Leucothoe, Choisya and maybe an Aucuba if I can find a good one.  I have some great colors and textures to riff on. The flowers from the Hellebore will be fantastic in late winter. I love how they’re happily spitting out a few blooms now too!

Of course you know I’ll get some good shots of the pots when I’m done so you can see how they turn out.  :-) I would love to hear how you see foliage in the garden working for you and how you choose them for various areas and focal points.

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6 Responses to “Choosing Winter Foliage That Says WOW!”

  1. Deirdre Says:

    What is that little red leaved thing in pictures 3,4, and 5?

    • personalgardencoach Says:

      It’s called Coprosma ‘Tequila Sunrise’. Here in my zone 7, it may or not make it through this coming harsh winter. I primarily use them as annuals. If they come through- BONUS!

  2. Mary Ellen Gambutti Says:

    Love your work, Christina! So good that you think well beyond mums and grasses for fall :-) Great color and texture!

  3. YUM! My favorite Hellebore right now is ‘Pink Frost'; great foliage, burgundy stems and a mass of white, pink and burgundy for MONTHS!

  4. Sue Selis Says:

    Your containers look great! I went to a well known nursery today in Seattle and did not find the selection of plants that you’re showing. Any suggestions?


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