Foliage for May GBFD.

Foliage at this time of year is putting on such a spurt of growth, some need cutting back and some need tying in, whatever it is you can’t ignore it or you would have a garden that quickly becomes out of control! Fortunately there is lots of foliage that is well behaved. I will start with Mahonia Charity which has beautiful new growth contrasting with the old.

Mahonia Charity

Brunnera Jack Frost

Brunnera Jack Frosy almost getting hidden with Hemerocallis foliage to the left and with Hellebore foliage to the right. A few seedlings of Jack Frost have come up nearby and have come up the with the same silver leaf,  one seedling however has come up the same as Brunnera Langtrees. I think they can be potted up and moved elsewhere.

Heuchera with milleum effusum aureum

In the foreground is Milium effusum Aureum and behind are Heuchera Marmalade and Hosta Canada Blue. When the hosta gets a bit bigger, they will make a nice combination.

Hosta, heuchera and grass

Another hosta, grass and heuchera combination further along the border has Hosta June in the foreground, Heuchera behind and then Stipa arundinacea at the back. Ajuga is forming ground cover in that area, the foliage contrasting again.

Ferns in May jpg

Ferns are unfurling and showing their differences, so many different sorts of foliage. From the top left, clockwise they are -the Maidenhair fern= Adiantum venustum, Dryopteris sieboldii, the Holly Fern=Polystichum lonchitis, Hart’s Tongue=Asplenium scolopendrium crispum, Dryopteris lepidopoda whose fronds start out bronze colour, then change to green, and in the centre the wild Asplenium scolopendrium. Why do ferns have such awkward names, I have to look them up every time!

General view of foliage

There’s quite a lot of different foliage in this photo. Starting at the top there is a heuchera with Stipa arundinacea, then coming forward there are some male ferns that have put themselves there, in front of them is the foliage of some narcissus and just peeking in at the bottom is a leaf of Saxifrage stolonifera. The flower is from Darmera peltata which ends up with rather large leaves.

Darmera peltata

These are the leaves of Darmera peltata which will end up quite big. This was already here when we arrived, it really is a bog plant but I can’t move it, the roots are like an elephant’s trunk and I have given up trying to dig it out. When the leaves are large in the summer, they do wilt in the sunshine and look rather a mess, I just have to look the other way!

Euonymous Emerald and Gold with purple berberis

Such a bright contrast of the Euonymus Emerald and Gold against the purple leaves of the Berberis.

Pond foliage

The pond is fast disappearing, when the water warms up a bit I will get in there and split some plants! There is foliage of 2 sorts of iris, the Sensitive fern, Marsh marigold, Hosta , 3 sorts of grasses and a water lily.

Rhododendron path

Starting at the bottom left and going clockwise, there is pulmonarea,  Fern, the purple foliage of Lysimachia, foliage of montbretia, Solomon’s Seal, Hart’s tongue fern and epimedium. These mark the path going through the rhododendron bed opposite the back door.

Path through the rhododendron bed

Further along the path looking through the rhododendrons, towards the bog garden and circular lawn. This also has Dicentra and Meconopsis cambrica.


A yellow leaved Heuchera with Stipa arundinacea and a blue leaved hosta just getting in on the act down at the bottom right corner. These Heucheras were  planted last year and they have really taken to the position I put them in, they have grown so much already and are already making quite a statement. Did you see the owners of Plantagogo nursery being interviewed at Chelsea the other day, these heucheras came from them and I can thoroughly recommend them!


In the back garden where there are a few shrubs bordering the woodland, Philadelphus coronaria Aureus is in urgent need of cutting back, but as it is due to flower any day now, someone will have to avoid it with the lawn mower for the next few weeks!

Fuchsia bed.

Fuchsia Genii sets the theme for this border by the patio, this is the Sunrise border as it gets the sun from first thing in the morning, actually it gets sun all day, but I find it easier to plant a border when it has a theme. The Sunset border is opposite, across the lawn. Libertia peregrinans has leaves the same colour as the fuchsia but with a spiky shape, the same colour is echoed in the leaves of the left hand Heuchera. There are also some pale blue grasses and the purple and red heucheras.

Left hand end of bog garden

The left hand end of the bog garden is really full of lush leaves at the moment. The fern, Matteucia struthiopteris, is spreading too much, so some of them will go into the ditch in the woodland where they can romp away to their hearts content! Hostas , astilbe, variegated iris and primulas are the ferns companions.

Right hand end of bog

The right hand end of the bog has more Matteucia struthiopteris with Hosta Crossa Regal for company as well as primulas and aquilegia. This hosta is so huge now, at one time the path through the rhododendron bed came to the right of the hosta, but rather than dig up the hosta when we couldn’t get through, I moved the path instead!


What a beautiful leaf the Rodgersia has, pure metallic bronze, unfortunately as it gets larger it changes to green, but I really like it as it is at the moment, contrasting with astilbe foliage.


A fern with a metallic sheen to it’s fronds, I think this is Polystichum setiferum plumosum Bevis.

Polystichum setiferum Divisilobum

One of my favourites -Polystichum setiferum Divisilobum.

Athyrium niponicum

Another lovely fern, one of the many Athyrium niponicum that are on offer these days, with a golden Carex.

Actinidia kolomikta

Climbing up the side of the house in a sunny position is Actinidia Kolomikta, a cousin of the Kiwi fruit! The leaves start out all green, then white and pink colours start appearing, then the white turns to pink and this is how it stays until they fall in the autumn.

Hosta Sum and Substance

Getting rather large now is Hosta Sum and Substance, growing on the side of the ditch by the woodland. The leaves are now the size of dinner plates and I’m having to move plants that are in danger of being swallowed up!

Saxifrage stolonifera

This is the foliage of Saxifrage stolonifera which just about appeared in another photo. Lovely foliage and it sends out runners which root so makes good ground cover. The flower spikes will soon be flowering with very dainty white flowers which seem to hover in mid air.

Zantedeschia aethiopica

In the foreground is the foliage of Iris pseudacorus variegata with the large leaves of Zantedeschia aethiopica behind. The flower is taking its time to unfurl, I thought it would be fully open by now. There is foliage of astilbe to the left and candelabra primulas to the right.

Box balls

I will finish with my box balls in the front garden which have just had their spring haircut, they were looking so shaggy, even though it is a bit early to do them. Soon they will be almost invisible once the roses get going, this is our bit of formality  for the winter, so we have something interesting to look at when washing the dishes.

I feel foliage is so important in a garden, after all we have it for far longer than we have flowers. Groupings can be made that are interesting for over half the year, “flowers are a bonus” according to Beth Chatto!

Many thanks to Christina at My Hesperides Garden for hosting Garden Bloggers Foliage once more, do pay her a visit where you can see beautiful foliage from around the world.

This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Foliage for May GBFD.

  1. Christina says:

    Pauline again you have shown us so much beautiful foliage and some lovely combinations. I do agree with Beth Chatto, maybe we could start a new saying “look after the foliage and the flowers will look after themselves”, what do you think? I smiled at you moving a path rather than the Hosta, seems very sensible to me. You and Jason both featured a lot of ferns, I should try to source some that would cope in the dry shade (but hot) back border they would add just the right texture. Any suggestions? thanks again for joining in GBFD.

    • Pauline says:

      Christina, I get all of my shade plants from which is Long Acre Plants in Somerset, they just deal in shady plants and boggy plants. I’ve looked on their website and a quick search found all Dryopteris affinis varieties are fine in dry shade, also Polystichum setiferrum Divisilobum Wollaston, and Polypodium vulgare
      Bifidomultifidum, you see what I mean about the names! These were just three of the varieties I looked up. I’m sure there must be many more. Hope you find something you like.

  2. rusty duck says:

    Matteucia struthiopteris may be taking over but they look fantastic en masse like that. Very architectural! I love Saxifrage stolonifera too. It is romping away in shade for me, a really useful plant.

    • Pauline says:

      Jessica, I like the Matteucia en masse but they don’t know when to stop! I can move all the small ones that have come up this year, they won’t mind being moved to another moist area. I’m glad you like Saxifrage stolonifera too, I like the red stalk which echoes the red in the leaf.

  3. This post is a great boon for me, as I’m always looking for interesting foliage for shade. I recently saw your selection of Saxifrage stolonifera and was able to get a few runners for my garden. I love the red shading; the one I previously established is all green and silver. I like your pops of chartreuse too. Must keep that in mind next time I’m plant shopping.

    • Pauline says:

      Another fan of Saxifrage stolonifera, I’m so pleased Marian! I haven’t seen a green and silver one, must watch out for it. I seem to find unusual foliage for shade much easier than in sun, maybe I’m just not looking in the right places!

  4. Chloris says:

    You make wonderful use of foliage Pauline. Your garden is stunning. I love ferns too and can never learn the names properly. Nevis is my favourite, its so shiny. I love all your Heucheras, specially Marmalade. I really am going to have to look out for it.
    I love all your box balls. It’s all lovely.

    • Pauline says:

      The box balls Chloris started out as tiny little plants at 50p each, it took no time at all for them to grow big enough to shape, they are so solid now I feel you could almost sit on them!
      I love mixing foliage to try and make a tapestry which is interesting while waiting for the flowers or after the flowers are over, I find this easier in the shade somehow, I will have to try harder in the few sunny borders that I have!

  5. Sally says:

    Pauline, Your display of foliage is perfect. I especially love the Ferns…..some I have never seen before…..There’s nothing like Hostas to add texture…..They really are a garden “energizer bunny”! Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful and bountiful garden!

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Sally, I love foliage too! I am also fascinated by ferns, such ancient plants, they have been around since time began but still new ones are being discovered. The texture of ferns with hostas is a winner for me, I love them!

  6. pbmgarden says:

    Great GBFD post Pauline. Love the Actinidia Kolomikta colors and everything else really. Your heucheras work well with the other plantings. I’ve wondered what you did with that huge grouping you purchased and showed earlier in the spring. Are they spread all around or used together? susie

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Susie, the Actinidia is a favourite of mine too, it does have tiny flowers that hang under the leaves, but the leaves are the main attraction. The Heucheras have been planted in various shady spots, not singly, in twos and threes, you saw a lot of them in the post! I still have about 1/3 still to be planted, but will have to do a bit of organising first in the gravel area at the back.

  7. Cathy says:

    What a beautiful spot you have Pauline – all those lush healthy leaves and shady places for hostas and ferns. Lovely! I really like the formal bit too, with the shaped box. I can imagine that looks very pretty on a frosty morning in winter.

    • Pauline says:

      Cathy, we have so many shady places which I found a problem to start with, but over the years I have come to realise that a lot can be done with shade and now they are my favourite spots in the garden. Yes, the box balls look very pretty with a frosting in the winter, better still , on the few occasions when we have snow, they look liked iced muffins!

  8. Caro says:

    All your plants look so healthy, Pauline – a testament to your gardening skills – I have to say that I’ve enjoyed reading this post as much as peeking at other blogger’s Chelsea reviews! You have some wonderful plant combinations – I especially love the way you’ve grouped your ferns and grasses with other plants, just lovely. Your Actinidia is obviously in the right place; too much shade and the leaves don’t go that unusual pink colour – there’s one in a back garden at Capel where only the leaves in the light go pink! Thanks for the link to Plants for Shade in one of the earlier comments, a useful website to know about!

    • Pauline says:

      Wow Caro, that is such a compliment, thank you! I have dealt with Long Acre Plants (plantsforshade) ever since we moved here.The owner came and gave a talk to Devon’s Hardy Plant Society and I was spellbound at all the wonderful plants that like to grow in shade and moisture, I was hooked and each autumn he usually gets an order from me!

  9. Cathy says:

    I don’t think I could possibly comment on any individual plant in this post, Pauline – I felt as if I was at a banquet with my tongue hanging out! 🙂 So much delightful foliage to feast my eyes on – wonderful! My H Marmalade is in a bed surrounding a youngish Acer griseum, which I have gradually been trying to fill with the caramel and bronze shades of heuchera, so I was a bit puzzled when Marmalade turned into lime marmalade later in the year – she’s back to her normal self now though!

    • Pauline says:

      Cathy, you are too kind, thank you! How strange that H Marmalade changed colour, I’m glad to hear that she’s back to normal ! The heucheras do have some wonderful colours these days, don’t they, it’s lovely being able to play around with them making textured groupings with them.I really am enjoying all the interesting foliage that the garden has at the moment, everything is looking so fresh.

  10. So much beautiful foliage and all my favorites, hostas, ferns, and heucheras. Your June has such a wide yellow center, it must be new or get a lot of sun. I have never seen one like that.

    • Pauline says:

      Carolyn, you are so right, my Hosta June is in quite a lot of sun, another one that I have in more shade is much more subtle. Tapestry effects are so easy to produce with hostas, ferns, grasses and heucheras, I do enjoy playing around with them!

  11. I fear I may be drooling a little Pauline, so many wonderful combinations. I think Beth Chatto was spot on with her comment about flowers, much as I love them, and you have contrasted shape, colour and textures so beautifully. Your hostas look so wonderful you nearly convince me to try more, but I know how lacy the ones in my front garden are now, so perhaps not. I love that you moved a path to take account of one. Ferns, on the other hand, are something I am really looking forward to building up a collection of over time, and I love that bright leaved heauchera with the Stipa arundinacea. Thank you, a glorious and inspirational post.

    • Pauline says:

      Glad that you enjoyed your wander Janet, Beth Chatto has taught me so much about gardening with her books, she is definitely my guru! Having moved hostas in the past and realised how long they take to recover, moving the path was the best option when we couldn’t get by the huge one near the bog garden, it gets bigger every year now, a veritable giant! There are so many different ferns with such interesting fronds, they are quite addictive.

  12. AnnetteM says:

    So many wonderful foliage combinations – I am really impressed. Great to have the names of all the different ferns too as I have started planting these around the garden and will be in the market for a few more.
    I love the golden euonymous and red berberis combination – I would never have thought of putting those two together. Wonderful post – thanks so much.

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Annette, glad you enjoyed it! All the different varieties of ferns can be so different from each other and can make lovely combinations with other plants, I just wish they had simpler names!
      When I first started planting here, I went through a phase of purple with yellow, most have been changed now, except the 2 shrubs in the front garden!

  13. Jane Scorer says:

    Pauline, you have some beautiful combinations in your garden, both of foliage and colour. You grow a lot of very interesting plants and I was poring over your photos ! I love Brunnera Jack Frost, indeed, I love many of the Brunneras and , to my shame, only discovered them last year. I am now a complete convert and plant them all over.

    • Pauline says:

      Jane, Brunnera are one of my favourite plants too and I’m so happy that at lasdt they are seeding around! I feel foliage can be just as interesting as some flowers and of course we are able to enjoy it far longer.

  14. Frank says:

    I didn’t realize you had so many solid foliage plants, what a fascinating collection of goodies! It’s not just the colors, but the textures too. The ferns are really something, especially the ones that start out with a nice fuzz. I have one similar, but it really took a beating this past winter.

    • Pauline says:

      I love planting foliage tapestries Frank, there are so many wonderful plants these days , we are so lucky! Ferns are so diverse, all shapes and sizes and now other colours apart from green! You all had such an awful winter over there, it’s a wonder anything has survived, I do hope your fern will recover.

  15. Anna says:

    It’s all been said Pauline but just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your post 🙂

  16. Annette says:

    Such a variety in your garden, Pauline. I think the pond edge looks stunning, also the cotinus and euonymus, quite a lively combination. I love the contrasting textures and colours and feel it’s especially interesting in your woodland which I think is fantastic anyway. Didn’t know about the elephant trunk-like roots of Darmera, a plant which I’d love but can’t give a suitable home right now.

    • Pauline says:

      Annette, I really need to get into the pond and sort some plants out, they have grown out of their baskets and are now going mad, maybe I need to ask for some waders for my birthday in a few weeks time! The Darmera is a lovely plant which is in the wrong place unfortunately, I will just have to get used to it wilting in the summer.

Comments are closed.