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Northwest Gardening: When Vegetation Alone is Enough

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Learn how to use attractive foliage plants, such as hostas, sedums and ferns, to save water and improve your landscape’s looks.

two potted hostas in a garden bed

By Marianne Binetti

Fantastic foliage can add beauty and solve problems in the landscape. Flowers may be fleeting. But foliage, like the green-and-cream leaves of these two hostas in my garden, adds bright colors and bold texture all summer long.

Tip: I like to grow hostas in pots to help protect them from slugs and better showcase their beautiful leaves. I move my potted hostas around to see where they show off the best. Any plant is a star and has better self-esteem when placed on a pedestal, as shown above.

hostas and ferns

Two different hostas, a native sword fern and lacy maidenhair fern, work together to add cool greens and restful blue foliage to a shaded bed. This collection of foliage plants also keeps down weeds and watering on the house’s north side.

Tip: Ferns and hosta can handle some sun in the Northwest but do best if planted in an area shaded from the hot afternoon sun.

bright-yellow/green sedum near rocks

Sedums and succulents provide colorful foliage in dry soil and sunny sites. My favorite sedum is the chartreuse cutie called ‘Angelina’. I use this prolific sedum as a ground cover in the rock garden. It is easy to pull up if it begins to steal too much real estate.

yellow sedum in urn on brick stand

I also use sedum ‘Angelina’ as a drought-resistant pot filler because this evergreen sedum is happy in the same pot for many years.

closeup of purple-and-silver fern fronds

The great joy of the garden is finding beauty in the natural world. Take a closer look at plant foliage and you’ll notice that the delight is in the details. Japanese painted fern is my favorite plant for awe-inspiring foliage color. A single frond is a masterpiece of silver, purple, and green, with a ghostly glow.

I found this rather unusual fern at my local Lowe’s garden center. It has the fancy Latin name Athyrium niponicum var. pictum but goes by two common names: ghost fern and Japanese painted fern. The leaves turn brown with the first frost. But don’t remove the dead leaves until spring because they protect the fern crown during the winter months.

Tip: This fern, like most hostas, grows larger leaves with the more water it receives. For the biggest splash of ferny foliage, plant it in a damp spot. Or grow it in a pot and water often.

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