12 great foliage border plants

Go big with foliage by planting this layered look as a garden border

Plant this look

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Plant this look

A great foliage border gives a garden a rich, layered look that doesn’t depend on flowers for dramatic effect. The key to success: Pick the right blend of shrubs and small trees whose leaves and branches create contrasts in color, texture, shape, and size. To make each plant stand out, set big-leafed plants beside fine-leafed ones, and spice up a mostly green palette with variegated plants that provide hits of gold, bronze, and purple.

This moisture-loving Seattle shade border hits all those notes—plus it looks good even in winter, when the woody stems of deciduous elements combine with evergreens to give it structure. Plants, arranged low to tall, grow up an incline, adding extra depth and drama.

You can copy these plant choices if you live in a cool coastal climate and have a similar shaded spot. In warmer or colder climates, make the substitutions noted.

Design: Stacie Crooks, Crooks Garden Design, Seattle (crooksgardendesign.com)

Coral bells

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Coral bells

Heuchera ‘Velvet Night’

Bright purple leaves add a touch of drama.

Bishop's weed

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Bishop's weed

Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’

With its two-tone leaves, it adds pop to border edging. In the Southwest deserts, it grows in zone 12 only.

 

Wood anemone

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Wood anemone

A. nemorosa

Its five-pronged leaves spread slowly to make an attractive woodland ground cover.

Drooping leucothoe

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Drooping leucothoe

L. fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’

Its multi-hued, drooping leaves add nice texture to a border. In Southern California and cold-winter areas, plant Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’ instead.

 

Maidenhair fern

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Maidenhair fern

Adiantum pedatum

Ferns add nice texture to any garden border, and these curly leaves really pop. In Southern California, plant autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) instead.

 

Plantain lily

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Plantain lily 

Hosta sieboldiana ‘Frances Williams’

Its large leaves and two-tone green hue pack a punch.

Rodgersia podophylla ‘Rotlaub’

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Rodgersia podophylla ‘Rotlaub’

The burgundy and green cup-shaped leaves are just gorgeous. In Southern California, plant dwarf oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia ‘Munchkin’ or ‘Ruby Slippers’) instead.

 

Glossy abelia

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Glossy abelia 

A. x grandiflora ‘Francis Mason’

A nice touch of texture. In cold-winter areas, plant Spiraea japonica ‘Goldmound’ instead.

 

Garden hydrangea

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Garden hydrangea

H. macrophylla ‘Glowing Embers’

Always a great choice for its cheerful blooms.

Solomon’s seal

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Solomon’s seal

Polygonatum biflorum

Vibrant leaves and delicate flowers make this a striking border choice. In Southern California, plant Japanese anemone instead.

 

Bridal wreath spiraea

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Bridal wreath spiraea 

S. x vanhouttei

Its darker green leaves form a nice frame for this layered foliage tableau.

Japanese maple

Photo by Stacie Crooks

Japanese maple 

Acer palmatum

Enjoy its light green leaves in warmer months, before you're treated to fiery hues come autumn. In the Southwest deserts, grows in zones 10 and 12 only.

Printed from:
http://www.sunset.com/garden/flowers-plants/border-plants-00418000081707/