Foliage in the Shade Garden

Foliage in the Shade Garden

I went out yesterday morning with the camera and took some photos of the shade garden. Rather than stand back and shoot the whole scene I chose to take a few close up photos of the leaves. To me one of the most interesting parts of a plant is the foliage. Many plants have a limited time only policy on their flowers, but their foliage has an extended offer. It will be there the whole growing season not just the two weeks in spring where they prolifically produce flowers then peter out to leave behind an unsightly mass of green growth. There certainly are plenty of plants that have fantastic flowers and foliage.

Here’s a look at some of the foliage in my corner shade garden.

This plant might not be one you associate with foliage, but astilbe has some nicely shaped leaves. Just look at those toothed edges on the dark green foliage. The red stems are a nice touch. Soon it will shoot up some showy plumes of white flowers, but the foliage will not be forgotten!

A closer look allows you to see the water droplets resting on the surface of the leaf. Unfortunately no natural rain created this effect. A certain water can wielding gardener is responsible.

‘Lady Guinevere’ the hosta is dressed in fine variegated foliage. Anyone know of an ‘Arthur’ or ‘Merlin’ cultivar? The white variegation has a faint yellow tint that helps to highlight the wavy habit of the leaves.

Here is one of the two ‘Patriot’ hostas growing strong. The dark leaves have a nearly white variegation to them.

Our ‘Ginko Craig’ hosta is interesting because of its leaf shape. The leaves are more narrow and sword like than other hostas. It also has a variegation like the previously mentioned hostas.

How about those heucheras for foliage color? The deep purple of this ‘Palace Purple’ heuchera contrasts well with the greens of the hostas. There’s even a Japanese painted fern sneaking into the picture.

The ‘Fireworks’ heuchera I picked up at the plant swap last weekend leans toward the red side of the color spectrum. Along the leaf veins it carries a greenish tint.

With a nearly opposite coloration from the ‘Fireworks’ huechera this heucherella called ‘Stoplight’ has some fantastic foliage. The red color is centered around the veins while the rest of the leaf displays a lime green.

This next plant gets its name from its foliage, the Oak Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). The broad leaves resemble the shape of an Oak tree’s leaves. It also has some showy flowers that are just beginning to form.

The Japanese painted fern has some of the most interesting foliage of any plant. The fronds emerge with a red stem to display a silvery gray-green color on the surfaces of the leaves.


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Very nice descriptions! I too love the foliage and different textures.

  2. The plants have certainly come on since your last post on this area. I particularly like the Japanese painted fern. I have one of these and I think its gorgeous

  3. The heucheras are all beautiful! Great shots.

  4. Dave, Check your email. I sent you something.

  5. I love foliage, too. Heucheras and oakleaf are necessary in my garden.


  6. Great photos, Dave. I love the combination of the dark heuchera with the Japanese painted fern – terrific! And how exciting to find out that there’s a hosta named ‘Guinevere’ – that sounds like a must-have.

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