Garden Designers Round Table: The Essence of Frondescence

A couple goes to an art gallery. They find a picture of a naked women with only her privates covered with leaves. The wife doesn’t like it and moves on but the husband keeps looking.

The wife asks: “What are you waiting for?”

The husband replies: “Autumn.”

The Garden Designers Round Table asked for a post on the topic of “Foliage and I am thrilled to oblige. However, the more I ruminated on what my take on this topic would be, the more I found myself flustered. Foliage itself is enough to make any designer swoon. It’s a monstrous topic!

I’ve written a few short blog posts already about the importance of basing a design around a substantive palette of excellent year-round foliage color called “Wedding Cake Landscape Design Theory” and another one that touches on this idea as well called “Ingredients for the Foundation of a Landscape Design”.

My personal inspiration for designing with foliage or anything foliage related comes from a book on this topic that is much more than a visual encyclopedia of foliage, it makes you re-think the possibility that flowers being omitted from a design plan can be just as floriferous feeling as with carefully chosen blooming ephemera. I HIGHLY recommend it if you’ve never read it, as well as any of the other books by this author, of which I have many!

Foliage by Nancy J. Ondra

In this book, foliage and all of it’s finer points are detailed expertly with the flavor of experience and the eye of a designer that I couldn’t give equity to in a short blog post. Sections dealing with Color, Texture, Combination’s, Variegation and a number of other elegant vegetative topics that NEED this book and it’s utterly amazing photography to do the LEAF justice.

So after much deliberation and angst, and a serious number of hours, I present my offering to you dear reader. I have decided that the best way I could address this post from my unique point of view is to put together pictures from my own library of foliage that is nearest and dearest to me and true to my location as well.

Obviously there is no way to include ALL the variety of incredible foliage I encounter that I wish I could share with you. But, if this gives you a small taste of what I’ve gotten to see in the way of charming and even outstanding foliage, then I will feel good about how I treated this passionate and VERY large topic that SO close to my heart.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and though they are not all labeled, if you see a plant that you don’t recognize, I’m certainly happy send you information on what that leafy bit of goodness was that you were curious about!

Below are links the the other Designers participating in the Foliage Blog post for Garden Designers Round Table. Please be sure to visit those sites as well and show them some love!

40 thoughts on “Garden Designers Round Table: The Essence of Frondescence

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    • Thanks Pam! Photos in “Foliage” are by Rob Cardillo- pretty phenomenal! I look forward to reading your post later today.

      • I agree with Pam. I love the color groupings. You have quite an encyclopedia of foliage plants going on here. Nan Ondra is one of my favorite authors too.
        You have great taste Christina.

        Shirley Bovshow
        Garden World Report Show

  5. WHEW! I thought I was gonna need the smelling salts looking through those pictures!

    They are *outstanding,* and I plan to reference them again. You always have such great ideas for combos — are you doing next month’s color post too? I can’t wait!

  6. I can’t BELIEVE I don’t have that BOOK!
    Running out to get it asap – it looks like pure pleasure! Thanks for the heads up.
    As for the images. I’m dead.
    You have killed me with beauty. I think you’ve done that before – I am amazed that I have risen only to be taken down once more by the devastating beauty of foliage, foliage, FOLIAGE!
    Your images speak VOLUMES about why we, as designers, depend so much on interesting foliage. Not a flower in sight, but we are left satisfied – thrilled, and spent!
    Wonderful post, Christina!

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  8. Mmm mm mm! Garden porn, in the way of some genuinely enticing pictures, to get my heart racing this snowy day in upstate New York. Now I can say that I’m seriously dreaming of spring …

    • Glad that I could provide some excitement to get you “going” wink wink nudge nudge with a bit of the Garden Porn! Thanks Naomi!

    • Debbie, I’ll be doing the “Color” post as well in about a month- now I really feel the pressure to provide another feast for you! 🙂

  9. Christina, beautiful photos, as usual. You certainly have an eye for the workhorse (foliage) of the garden, and any homeowner would certainly benefit from your expertise and design sense.
    Now I have to go add another book to my wish list! Thanks.

  10. I needed Andrew’s smelling salts as I looked through your photographs. (Had I had a a stronger will I could have stopped, but … I wanted to see everything.) These photos provide tangible proof that one doesn’t need flowers, to add color or interest to a garden.

  11. I love Nancy’s Grasses book – you’ve convinced me I need to add Foliage to my collection.

    I have three planting plans due and admit I’m feeling quite uninspired. Maybe the gray weather’s got me down. Your photo gallery is just what I need to get my creative juices flowing!

    • Susan, Inspiration is a fleeting thing. One of my favorite movies of all time is called “Always”, Audrey Hepburn’s last. In it she plays an angel and she talks about inspiration- YOU need to go watch it! And if my photos are a gentle whisper of inspiration for you, then I am honored.

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