By Julie Martens Forney
Give your perennial garden a boost of season-long interest by adding a few foliage plants. Start by mixing and matching perennial foliage plants with different leaf colors and textures. This perennial garden features a quartet of easy-growing foliage plants: green-and-gold hosta, ‘Orkney Cherry’ hardy geranium, ‘Powis Castle’ artemisia and golden oregano.
This foliage plant combination plays with the concept of light and dark. Pairing plants with light and dark leaves is an easy way to design eye-catching plantings. Learn more simple design tricks to showcase foliage plants in the perennial garden.
Bring the classic combination of silver and gold to life with the foliage plants ‘Jack Frost’ brunnera and Toffee Twist carex. Brunnera offers several varieties that unfurl silvery leaves in different patterns. ‘Red Rooster’ carex offers coppery hues in a hardier plant. Both of these plants are also deer-resistant. This combination also illustrates another goofproof design trick: pairing broad leaves (brunnera) with fine-textured grassy ones (carex).
Focus on Monochromes
Create a perennial garden using foliage plants in the same color family. This pairing brings a cool look in shades of green with hay-scented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) and sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum). Ferns make a great go-to plant for shady corners of the garden, and hay-scented fern is the epitome of low maintenance. Sweet woodruff opens dainty white flowers in spring, but its leaves steal the spotlight with their unusual starburst shape.
Play With Variegation
Include variegated foliage plants in your perennial garden. They make a natural partner for perennials with colorful leaves, like coralbells. In this plant match-up, variegated Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium caeruleum ‘Brise d’Anjou’) shines against the bronze-tone leaves of ‘Southern Comfort’ coralbells (Heuchera).
To get started combining perennial foliage plants, pair plants in their pots at the garden center. Focus on choosing plants that suit your garden’s growing conditions and that create a combination that looks good to you. Play with leaf texture too. But above all, have fun and let your inner artist loose as you paint with foliage plants.