So many shades of Green. GBFD.

It’s amazing how the garden and surrounding countryside has changed in the last month. There are now so many different shades of green delighting us as well as other colours of foliage.  Driving round the lanes here, the beech leaves are at their best, such a wonderful soft, pale green, just the right colour with bluebells underneath but in the garden it is the oaks and chestnuts that are making us feel that we don’t have any neighbours, they will be blocked out for the next 6 months. Low down in the garden there is a rich tapestry of foliage growing rapidly, this is Tiarella wherryi which forms a ground cover under some of the shrubs near the greenhouse. OK it’s flowering at the moment, but even when not in flower, it is an almost weed proof carpet.

Tiarella wherryii

Vibernum plicatum Maresii

A shrub which is almost in flower is Vibernum plicatum Mariesii, but it is the leaves which I find fascinating. Tightly pleated when they unfurl, they hang down as the flowers stand upright.

Euonymous and ligularia

The Euonymous Emerald Gaiety is evergreen, but as soon as  Lysimachia  cilata Fireworks starts growing, they both complement each other so well.

Tapestry of foliage

This is one of my favourite groupings of foliage, the ferns are still coming through so it will look better next month. The pulmonaria with the hart’s tongue fern, the epimedium and Solomon seal all contrast with each other, forming a foliage tapestry.


Philadelphus coronarius Aureus contrasts with its companions, too much sun and the thin delicate leaves will burn, too much shade and they turn green. This one is in semi shade and stays a lovely colour till autumn.

Brunnera Jack Frost

Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost is starting to seed around so I’m now getting “freebies” to plant elsewhere.

Axcer Osakasuki

The foliage of Acer Osakasuki changes all the time, bronze when they first come out, then slightly yellow and now turning green until the autumn when it becomes vibrant fuchsia pink before turning bright pillar box red – fantastic.

Saxifrage stolonifera

Another ground cover at the entrance to the woodland is Saxifrage stolonifera which sends out long runners and soon covers the ground. If it spreads too far it is very easy to remove. It will soon be flowering with very dainty flowers on long stalks like London Pride.

Pieris variegata Forest Flame

A small variegated bush of Pieris, given to us by a very good friend to mark our Ruby Wedding a few years ago, with leaves like these, who needs flowers?

Millium effusum aureum

In the woodland Milium effusum Aureum is seeding around, I must soon go and remove the flowering stalks as they are spreading too much. They bring a lightness to the shady areas but you can have too much of a good thing!

Maidenhair fern

The hardy maidenhair fern Adiantum venustum  also forms ground cover and contrasts with the Hellebore foliage. This is such a dainty fern, you wouldn’t think it would be hardy, it is a cousin to the houseplant that we have in our hall which wouldn’t survive a winter outside.

Holly Fern

The Japanese Holly Fern or Cyrtomium falcatum  has unusual pinnae to other ferns and are almost evergreen so they have a presence all year.

Hosta and ferns

Hosta, fern, primrose, old snowdrop leaves and hellebore form a nice tapestry on the woodland floor.

Phormium and fennel

Not a very good photo, but I hope you can make out the bronze fennel foliage behind the Phormium Yellow Wave. The fennel arrived from nowhere, I have the ordinary green fennel at the other side of the house, just outside the back door, so I don’t know if it is a seedling from that one.


The Astilbes are all starting to push out their foliage, some of them such beautiful colours which contrast with the bright green of the primulas in the bog garden.


While wandering round looking for foliage, the sempervivum in one of my troughs caught my eye, lovely two tone purple/grey, they’ve been there for years and I think they are very happy.


A golden form of Santolina on the alpine scree shines out all year long, a patch of sunshine for 12 months.

Matteucia struthiopteris

My favourite patch of ferns, Matteuccia struthiopteris, in a corner of the bog garden, looking so ethereal with the sunlight shining through them.


Such beautiful Epimedium foliage at this time of year, the leaves go more green as the months go by.

Orange grass?

Seeming happy at last, the vibrant orange of  a Libertia  has taken a while to settle down, but this year has put up more sheaves than ever, did it need all the rain last year?

Ilex Golden King

Good old reliable holly, Ilex Golden King, always looks good and contrasts with the heather in front.


I found one of my Rodgersia podophylla had been completely covered by a bush, more cutting back needed so that we can see the lovely bronze leaves that are produced, another one which enjoyed all the rain last year.

Actinidia colomicta

Actinidia kolomikta is a cousin of the Kiwi fruit and a climber. The leaves start off all green, then parts of some of the leaves turn white, these white bits then turn pink which stays until autumn, quite colourful and very interesting.

Sambucus Black Lace

Sambucus Black Lace has such dark purple leaves which will form a super backdrop to the deep pink flowers in a couple of weeks time.

View to pond

I thought I would end with a couple of general views of the garden,this is looking  towards the pond with just foliage for interest at the moment, I think the only flowers are the daisies on the lawn, the cold weather is holding everything back in the bog garden. There are plenty of buds just waiting to pop up if warmer weather arrives, but for a while now it has been cold winds from the north making us feel as though we are back to March!

Towards the front drive

Yes, the hedge needs cutting (we’re leaving it for now as a blackbird is nesting there) but the foliage brings interest to the front garden before all the roses start frothing everywhere!

Retail therapy

The last shot is of my retail therapy the other day, hardly a flower to be seen but don’t they look lovely together?! I will be writing a post about the area they are going to in a short while.

Many thanks once again to Christina at My Hesperides Garden for hosting GBFD and making us all think beyond the seductive flowers and appreciate the wonderful foliage that we have at this time of year.



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22 Responses to So many shades of Green. GBFD.

  1. Christina says:

    Perfect Pauline. Your garden is lovely in mid May, and you’re catching up, my sambucus is flowering now. It is so interesting how some plants are dependant on temperature and others on light so we gat different combinations in different years. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Christina, May is such a super month for foliage as well as flowers, it is all so fresh. There was a discussion on the TV coverage of Chelsea about light and temperature affecting different plants and it is so true, some flower the same time, no matter what and others are waiting for us to warm up – when will that happen , we all wonder!

  2. pbmgarden says:

    Pauline, your garden is truly beautiful and so extensive. I always learn about new plants when I visit here. I tried Santolina once long ago and it didn’t do well, but after reading about yours I see I had planted it in the wrong conditions. Great foliage and views. Susie

    • Pauline says:

      You’re very kind Susie, it is still a steep learning curve even after being here for over 20 yrs! Our soil is very heavy clay so the only area I can grow the santolina and others that like well drained soil, is in a huge raised bed, it was once the pond that the previous people made, but we had visions of grandchildren climbing into it and turned it into an alpine scree!

  3. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    Lovely photos, you really know how to combine leaves for added interest 🙂
    I really love your Ferns and wish I had the space to allow for such a wonderful swathe/border of them.

    I know exactly what you mean about how much things have changed. And actually so far I think it’s been a really good mix of rain and sun so things are nice and lush but there’s been enough of the yellow stuff so we can enjoy being outside.
    Although saying that, I think I’m just so incredibly grateful that we can actually get ouside, compared to last year when I barely spent any time at all.

    • Pauline says:

      Liz, if I have learned anything about putting plants together to try and make them interesting, it has all come from reading Beth Chatto’s books, she is wonderful at plant combinations! We are certainly paying for not being out gardening as much as we should have done last year, the weeds have taken hold everywhere and they are so huge! We are now out as much as possible, in spite of the temperatures only being around 11 or 12 C,just weeding everyday, trying to get the borders sorted out.

  4. Wendy says:

    The fresh green leaves everywhere are beautiful, aren’t they? And all the leaves on the trees are out now and suddenly everywhere has “filled out”. But I still can’t believe how late everything is this year (and how cold it has become again). I enjoyed the journey around your garden to look at all the beautiful foliage and I love astilbes, although I’ve lost mine, here.

    • Pauline says:

      Sorry you lost your Astilbe Wendy, fortunately we have lots of wet soil due to an underground stream, which they love. This last month has seen such an explosion of foliage, flowers are late catching up, some rely on hours of daylight so they are more or less on time, but the ones waiting for higher temperatures are having such a long wait!

  5. Lyn says:

    Some great combinations that have given me a few ideas, Pauline, although in some cases I’ll have to use different plants. But colour and shape are the important things, and I think I can find substitutes. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Lyn, so glad to have been of help. I agree, you’ll have to use different plants as some of them wouldn’t be able to survive the Australian heat!

  6. Tiarella has terrific foliage, and it looks good all season. I like it for under the trees. Epimedium always look great when they emerge with their red trimmed leaves, so eye catching in the shade. Jack Frost is one of my favourites for foliage, because the silver white lines make such pretty patterns.

    Your Adiantum looks so healthy and lush. My maidenhair ferns probably wish they lived in a damper climate, as they don’t fill in nearly as thick as yours do.

    The Hosta, fern, and Helleborus combination i a really nice texture group. I always love the look of soft, finely cut ferns with broad Hosta leaves.

    • Pauline says:

      I’ve found foliage for shade to be so interesting NS, when we moved here twenty odd years ago, it was a steep learning curve as there is so much shade. Fortunately I found some good books on how to plant in shade (one bought when I was on holiday in Canada) and soon learnt that lovely tapestries can be made with colour, shape and texture of leaves.

  7. Cathy says:

    That clump of M struthiopteris is fantastic Pauline, and your 4th picture could easily have been taken in our garden! So much beautiful foliage, and some new plants now to add to it! I am off outside shortly to belatedly take my own foliage photos.

    • Pauline says:

      Cathy, the clump of M.struthiopteris is getting a little large, it puts out runners and they are starting to pop up where I don’t want them, action needed, but I have to admit that when I see them with the sun shining through them, I relent once more!
      The 4th photo is my favourite grouping of foliage, but I can’t take all the credit, nature put the pulmonarias and the background montbretia foliage there, I have just added to it. Still weeding the area for the new plants, it’s taking longer than I thought, and the wind is bitterly cold today, so it’s back into winter jumpers and gardening coat before I venture out!

  8. Alberto says:

    Hi Pauline! Everything always looks perfect in your garden. I love those matteuccia, and I love the pictures with many leaves mingling together, they look as if arranged by some florist.
    But something really caught my attention: that variegated phormium with the bronze fennel: I have a miscanthus with very similar leaves to your phormium and a bronze fennel sprout just behind creating almost the same combo of your picture. It’s bizarre.

    • Pauline says:

      Hi Alberto, I wish everything was perfect, but no, I just don’t show you the weeds that still need attention! I also like it when the leaves of plants mingle together like a tapestry, nature can sometimes do it better than we can.
      I can see our plants are thinking alike – weird!!

  9. Gitte says:

    May have always been my favourite month. I just love the dazzling green of first spring. I also have the philadelphus Aureus, it has a lovely light green colour all summer. Jack Frost I acquired last year and the leaves are fantastic.
    Rodgersia is a great plant for keeping down weed, and also has wonderful dark colours. Epimedium is a plant I MUST have this year, it is beautiful

    • Pauline says:

      My favourite too Gitte, everything is so fresh and shows so much promise. We seem to have lots of the same plants in our gardens, epimedium are also very good for stopping the weeds, we must both have good taste!

  10. Anna says:

    You really have some beautiful foliage in your garden Pauline and everything seems to look so fresh in May too. I know exactly what you mean by about the milium – will be extracting some here when and if the cold wind eases. Looking forward to reading about your plans for your latest purchases and you have inspired me to go off to find out more about ferns 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Anna, it certainly is a lovely time of year. My love of ferns grew when I found a book “The Planthunters guide to Garden Ferns” by Martin Rickard and found that there are so many lovely ones which I then bought from Long Acre Plants in Somerset.

  11. It is all so gorgeous and lovely. I found the Vibernum plicatum Mariesii to be very interesting. I am going to see if I can get that to grow in my climate.

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Charlie, Viburnum plicatum Maresii is a super shrub with horizontal tiers, it grows quite wide, about 10ft and 8ft tall. In the autumn it has beautiful burgundy foliage before it falls, I think it deserves a place in any garden that has room for it.

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