The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens

Foliage Follow-up


I rarely join Pam at Digging for foliage follow up mostly due to time constraints, and I am already a day late, but each time I do I am so happy to participate. To me, foliage and textures are more pleasing than a fleeting bloom in general. There are, of course, those blooms that woo. But it is the interlaying of foliage, texture and form that I try to focus upon when actually “designing” my garden which isn’t as often as you might think. I have mostly “reacted” when planting this garden. Bare prison yard, yikes, sure I will take any plants you have to give. Fallen tree? Yes may I please have the chipped bark and wow, I have a lot of space to fill … well, maybe not so much the violets and wild strawberries have gone wild! Cup Plant, Cutleaf Coneflower, Black Eyed Susan, Joe Pye … all crazy wild. These days it is very rare that I have a bare space I can actually contemplate and design. Something is always creeping and pushing its way in and I am always it seems, reacting and not designing. Anyway, containers are a bare platform and I have gravitated towards filling them with foliage rather than blooms. I cannot not think of a better form of foliage than coleus and succulents! (Oh, and begonias.)

This container is just below one of my hummingbird feeders. I think the red coleus attracts them even more so. In the foreground is a Japanese Maple seedling I weeded from one of my gardening jobs. I just couldn’t bare to throw it in the compost, so it is living in a pot – great foliage.


In my garden, I planted Black Lace, an elderberry hybrid, in place of a Japanese Maple because I fear I would lose a Japanese Maple in our climate. I almost lost Black Lace after last Winter but it has come back and is close to the full size it was. Just look at her black, lacy foliage with hints of green and burgundy – aptly named.


This is a grouping of containers – a created focal point – on the side of my front porch (so I don’t focus upon the bare stretch of boards and especially, peeling paint). It incorporates some of my favorite begonias I have kept for several years now.




A succulent container that suffered frost damage last year – I didn’t bring it inside in time – but it’s making a comeback.


Horsetail in my water container with last year’s rush that didn’t quite come back full force after wintering in my cellar. Still, I love the scale-like foliage of the horsetail and the blue of the rush and I also have some corkscrew rush. They play well together.


I’ve managed to incorporate some great perennial foliage into the garden over the last couple years. If one cannot grow Gunnera try Ligularia! I finally moved mine last year – I think it was getting too much sun. The move paid off. It is happy this year and the leaves are lusciously large!


Golden Shadows is also living up to its name. I love this little tree which will grow to 12′. It is a Pagoda Dogwood with special, special foliage. Once it matures … wow.


I will continue to add foliage and texture to my garden as it evolves. I love the way sunlight and shadows play with foliage. A big thanks to Pam for bringing foliage to light!


Author: Kathy Sturr

Artist, master gardener, plant-based chef. Florida's Nature Coast / Indian River Lakes, NY

6 thoughts on “Foliage Follow-up

  1. Kathy you have so many great foliage plants. I love my pond horsetail and even used it in a vase. I need to use more foliage in my containers and hope to grow more coleus especially next year.

  2. Ooh, so many beautiful containers, Kathy! I don’t think I could even pick a favorite. Thanks so much for joining in this month!

  3. OH Kathy, you are a kindred spirit:-) I planted a black lace for the same reason. I did not want to pay the high price for a japanese maple, so I went with the black lace elderberry-lol. I made her a tree:-) I was worried I would kill a j.maple. You are an artist in your garden-love all the texture too!

  4. your containers are spectacular. I have just one begonia with beautiful leaves that I cherish. 2 pots ready to move with me, then spread in a shady corner.

  5. Really dazzling and exciting. Love the begonias.

Thank you for joining me in the making of my garden!

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