One of the biggest transformations that marks the shift from winter into spring is the emergence of the green leaves.
Never does green foliage look as fresh and vibrant as it does in the spring!
Today I want to share a bird-friendly shade garden where foliage is the star.
Overall, the palette of this garden is quiet and restrained.
What stands out for me is not the layout: it's basically a green lawn with perimeter flowerbeds. This approach to design is so commonly employed, it is almost standard suburban issue.
What is worthy of note is the planting.
Green is the pervasive color here.
At first consideration this may seem like a simplistic use of color, but there is a subtle sophistication at work here that makes the appearance of fresh green leaves seem all the more dramatic each spring.
The different shades of green play off one another, and even though the flowerbed is largely a single color, the planting as a whole, reads as quietly "colorful".
In this little corner, you can see a great example of the blend of different greens.
1 The bright green in the top left corner is fresh growth on a Yew. 2 In the centre is a blue-green Actaea pachypoda 'Misty Blue'. 3 In the lower right hand corner is the ferny foliage of an Astilbe. 4 Dogwood tree 5. Japanese Forrest Grass, Hakonechloa 6. Solomon Seal, Polygonatum
Actaea pachypoda 'Misty Blue' has blue-green foliage and white flowers in spring. In summer the flowers become white berries on contrasting red stems. This plant prefers sandy or clay soil with average to moist growing conditions. Height:60-90 cm (23-35 inches) , Spread: 60-90 cm (23-35 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.
Japanese Forest Grass, Hakonechloa and Solomon Seal, Polygonatum
The combination of plants is quite exquisite here.
The creamy-white variegation of the hostas, the grey-green leaves of the Japanese Maple, and the sharp chartreuse of the Pagoda Dogwood all work together to lift and lighten this area of the garden.
Golden Shadows Pagoda Dogwood
This is a bird-friendly garden. In clear view of the back patio is a squirrel-proof bird feeder.
The homeowners have added a circle of bricks at the base of the feeder that is both decorative and practical. Not only does it mean that fallen seed is less likely to sprout in the lawn, it makes cleaning up any stray birdseed easy to do with a broom.
A bird feeder like this may just turn out to be one of my first spring projects!
Birds are also given easy access to nesting materials, which hang in a number of locations.
1. Magnolia tree 2. Astilbe 3. Hosta 4. Lungwart, Pulmonaria with spotted grey-green foliage. 5. Big Root Geranium, 'Geranium macrorrhizum'.
Bigroot Geranium, 'Geranium macrorrhizum'
What makes this section stand out is the careful consideration of each plant's attributes.
The Astilbe in the foreground is quite glossy and shiny, while the larger leaves of the hostas are more matt.
Also adding complexity to the design is the combination of leaf shapes and sizes.
In this little plant grouping, there are two Hostas and two Astilbes. The Astilbe in the upper left corner is fern-like, while the one in the lower half of the picture is so dense, it is almost moss-like.
Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis 'Gold Heart' has amazing chartreuse foliage and pink heart-shaped flowers in spring. Normal, sandy or clay soil all work for this plant. It likes average to moist growing conditions. The foliage will start to fade and go dormant in late summer. Part to full shade. Height: 60-90 cm (23-35 inches), Spread: 60-90 cm (23-35 inches). USDA Zones: 2-9.
As any experienced gardener will tell you, flowers come and go. A garden where foliage is given a starring role is always going to look terrific.
Have a wonderful weekend!