Foster a foliage garden

Foster a foliage garden

Foster a foliage garden

While it is true that flowers are the heart of a garden, sometimes leaves are all you need. A Dyuti urges you to go fully green and see the change in your garden.

Have you been contemplating a fresh look for your flowery garden lately? If so, you might want to consider an all-foliage theme. But, if foliage gardens conjure up prosaic images of greenery everywhere, think again. For, they boast of a variety of colours and shapes. White, gold, red or tinges of blue or bronze in streaks, stripes or whorls can adorn your garden. 

Ornamental grasses, ferns, climbers and creepers, ground cover, succulents, lawns, hedges and topiaries – they all can fit snugly in your foliage garden. Velvety textures, snazzy shapes, a riot of colours – you’ll have plenty to choose from. If this has still held your attention for so long, you should keep reading.

Foliage plants have their own privileged place in any garden. Landscaping employs them to provide a green contrast to bright blossoms, thereby highlighting them. You can also stuff them among rocks, manipulating their variegated patterns for creating an eye-catching scenario. Some gardens reserve an exclusive patch for these pretty-leaved plants, while others altogether banish flowering plants of any sort from their territory.

You might now be wondering which plants can come to your aid? There are too many. Crotons, coleus, hostas, caladiums, ferns, Japanese maples and the good old bamboo, to cite a few. Bryophytes, or mosses in common parlance, constitute the simplest and tiniest non-flowering plants.

C for crotons

Crotons form the most common colourful foliage in any garden. Merrily putting forth yellow, red, rust and purple leaves, they’re a valuable element of a foliage garden. These low-maintenance plants require adequate sunlight to retain the colour of their leaves. If the tips of the leaves turn brown, it shows that it is receiving inadequate water. Wilting indicates over-watering.

The coleus species sporting colourful and beautiful foliage are popular decorative garden plants. Place these tropical perennials in bright, open areas.

Exposure to direct sunlight causes their colour to fade away. If you don’t remove the flower spikes when they sprout forth and instead, allow them to blossom, the leaves lose colour. Avoid excessive moisture accumulation at the roots.

You can raise a fine fern garden, reserve a patch for them, strew them amidst rocks, rear them in your backyard, edge them along the feet of trees, make them your garden’s main attraction or use them as a beautiful background for your flowering plants. Some ferns serve as good ground cover, too.

Most ferns are green, but they come in numerous shades. Some have red veins, others have glossy leaves. Some ferns are tiny, whereas tree ferns grow tall. 

Remember, ferns are mostly comfortable in the shade (say, underneath an evergreen tree’s overhanging branches). They wilt in excessive sunlight. A few varieties, however, thrive in the sun, too. An extremely windy location can damage delicate fronds.

Many tropical plants like elephant ears flaunt stunning textures and colours in their leaves. Narrow-leaved plants are utilised wherever vertical designs are planned. Where a dreamy view is desired, delicate ferns are your best assistants.

Ornamental grasses sprouting fountain-like foliage and whipping up colourful plumes can serve as an attractive centrepiece. Use gold-toned leaves to brighten up a shady area.

The colour purple

Purple/burgundy-leaved plants make bewitching borders. Hedges demarcate areas within the garden or create an outer boundary. A perfect hedge is dense and neatly-trimmed. Remember, an all-green garden needn’t spell monotony, for you can artistically combine the innumerable shades of green that leaves of various species put forth.

Huge trees can line avenues. For a trophy arrangement, place potted foliage plants around a centrepiece, like a tree with a huge bark, a lighting-pole, a pole harbouring pots or a pillar.Grow ground cover plants densely and trim them into words or patterns for creating a carpet bed. Want to roll out a green carpet?

Then, nurture a lawn. Using rainfall as the primary water source, weekly mowing up to a fairly high level and uprooting weeds by hand yields a good-looking lawn. Choose a grass type appropriate for the temperature, light and soil-type available in your garden.

Topiary - or the art of training live plants to grow into pre-determined shapes by clipping their leaves, stems and twigs - can be experimented with in your foliage garden. Topiaries created in containers can be used to line balconies/ porches and pathways leading to doors, besides enlivening the indoors, too. 

A traditional topiary prunes plants to form geometric shapes like balls, cubes, obelisks, pyramids, cones and tapering spirals. Animals and birds, hearts, stars, diamonds and a line of spheres are other favourites today. Topiaries can be created using either shrubs or vines.

Non-flowering plants can green up walls, too, by growing up along their height. The simplest vertical garden is a climbing plant clambering up a wall, growing upwards from the ground.

An elaborate vertical garden can consist of an aquatic area at the bottom with algae-consuming fish, amphibians and molluscs, too. Many foliage plants can be grown indoors. Only, take cognisance of the lighting, temperature, humidity and watering needs of each before you invest in them.

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