Designing with Variegated Foliage
In landscapes across the country, homeowners tend to turn to flowers for their primary source of color. And while that’s a completely understandable and logical thing to do, foliage is often forgotten. But it’s interesting and colorful foliage that creates the backbone, and background, for a successful landscape design and long-lasting color show.
When you forget to put a focus on foliage, you may end up with a landscape void of interest during the “off season” or even barren if you choose too many deciduous plants. By adding a variety of plants with evergreen and interesting foliage, you can ensure your landscape will have color, texture and contrast through each growing season.
Mix it up
As with all things, balance is important. You want to combine a mixture of foliage plants that offer different characteristics. Choose all plants with the same color green foliage and you’ll end up with a pretty boring landscape. However, if all the plants you choose have variegated foliage, your space could look too chaotic. Did you make the mistake of choosing all deciduous plants? If so then your cool-season landscape may seem pretty stark.
A good foliage mix starts with a color theme. Are you looking for bold reds, or cool silvers? How about bright yellow or chartreuse? The foliage colors you choose can also coordinate with the bloom colors you’ve chosen for your space. Abelia ‘Miss Lemon’ is a variegated shrub that we find easy to add to a variety of color combinations. Early foliage emerges yellow with deep green centers that turn creamy white with green centers come fall. This one variety will offer you both a changing color show and contrast. ‘Miss Lemon’ pairs well with bright orange daylilies or chartreuse gopher spurge.
Yucca ‘Color Guard’ is a very heat tolerant succulent with yellow evergreen foliage and contrasting green edges. The spiky shape of the leaves, combined with the bright color, helps you create pops of color and contrast in your landscape.
Place bright or variegated foliage next to plants with dark or solid green leaves for interest. Then choose blooming perennials and annuals to complement your foliage backdrop. Just remember to combine plants with similar cultural needs, such as full sun or well-drained soil.