Middle South

July, 2012
Regional Report


Foliage: Astonishing Color and Texture Beyond Flowers by Nancy J. Ondra (Story Publishing, 2007) promises on its flyleaf to inspire gardeners "to look with fresh eyes at the simple garden leaf." And it does, once you figure how to use the book to best advantage.

After a brief introduction to the aesthetic value of foliage, the book is divided into four chapters on color -- gold, red to black, silver to blue, and multicolor -- and then subdivided into textures, namely spiky, bold, medium, fine, and lacy. After coming to grips with how the book is organized, it becomes a useful tool that is both a plant-finding guide and a plant encyclopedia. The most inspiring part of the book, however, is its vivid photographs.

Clever Gardening Technique

Use Bold Foliage as a Focal Point
With the correct placement, a plant with bold foliage can become a superstar in the garden. Dramatic in leaf size or shape (or both), such plants draw the eye, making them a good choice for a focal point.

For example, I grow Acanthus 'Summer Beauty' in a sea of mondo grass near my front door. This evergreen perennial, a hybrid of A. mollis and A. spinosus, has glossy green, deeply lobed leaves that measure up to 30-inches long. Visitors, especially non-gardeners, are amazed by this plant and move towards it like it is a magnet.

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