Can you find beautiful foliage plants at Châtillon right now? Well, if you look hard enough … Good foliage in a cold-climate late autumn or winter garden is something that comes with time, knowledge and a bit of careful planning. Strangely enough, the foliage that’s giving me the most pleasure at the moment belongs to a couple of plants that some call ‘aggressive’ because they’ve forgotten where the boundary between ‘weed’ and ‘desirable’ lies. Garden ‘crossovers’ you might call them (it’s my line they’re crossing!). To the left and below are well-behaved Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’ with a favourite thug, Verbascum thapsus, snuggling up.
The verbascum, in company with borage, is on a bid to take over every square inch of ground I leave bare – and more than a few that I don’t.
Next up, another thug. Bronze fennel. I hope I’ll never be without its foliage effect, but I didn’t reckon on having to cosset it here. When I started planting the garden in 2012, one of the first plants the voles ate were the bronze fennels. Vole damage is scary! It’s a case of now you see it, now you don’t. I’ll never forget the day I pulled on the foliage of a rather expensive (wilting) wisteria and up came a virtually non-existent root system. The bronze fennels went the same way. And so – believe it or not – they were replanted in wire baskets to protect them. I enjoy the fennel from the minute it starts pushing through in April to complement tulips ‘China Pink’ and ‘Queen of the Night’. In 2014 it was chopped back just after the tulips faded, but ‘rose again’ to greet the roses (ha!) and Campanula ‘Prichard’s Variety’. Then I chopped it a second time and it was back again for Leucanthemum x superbum and finally, as in the picture above, some late-flowering Salvia sclarea. Good value for one plant – and just as well it’s so tough it can put up with that beating. Finally I did let it flower and then harvested the seed heads to use in the kitchen – but I suspect it’s already had a go at moving beyond the wire baskets.
And lastly a few grasses that I don’t consider weeds. To the left, Pennisetum alopecuroides, and to the right some little seed-grown Festuca amethystina that should really be into their stride by next summer.
Finally, looking classy with borage, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’. This post is my third on the new blog. And do you know, I’m already missing that feeling of having my garden around me that I had on my old Weebly Garden Dreaming at Châtillon site. This is also my contribution to Pam Penick’s Foliage Follow-up at Digging – if you check out her site you’ll come across foliage vastly more exotic than mine! And I’d love to hear about the garden thugs you wouldn’t be without?