Focus on foliage this fall

  • Friday, September 13, 2019 1:30am
  • Business

I recently read an article on designing with foliage in the garden by a local author, Christina Salwitz. She has written two books: “Fine Foliage” and “Gardening with Foliage First.” Her main point is that while flowers are ephemeral, foliage can last all season, and therefore should be the first consideration in any garden design – be it in the landscape or in containers.

As we move into the fall and winter seasons, her talking points become more relevant considering there are fewer blooming plants to choose from. Here are some thoughts on creating interesting container plantings for winter:

•First and foremost, ditch the earth tone pots and replace them with vibrant colors. Lime green, blood red, dark blues and even orange will all “pop” during the dark days of winter. As a bonus, you can often find pots on sale in September.

•Then start looking for the centerpiece of your new arrangement. Evergreen ornamental grasses, such as the many forms of sedges, will look fabulous all winter. Upright growing evergreens, like Sky Pencil Japanese Holly, Irish Juniper or Lemon Cypress, will work as well. For larger pots try a Camellia, Fatsia or some clumping bamboo.

•For some filler I prefer hardy evergreen perennials and broadleaf evergreen shrubs, such as Bergenia, Euphorbia, Heuchera, Leucothoe, Wintergreen, Skimmia, Sarcococca or ferns. Short grasses, like black Mondo or yellow Japanese Sweet flag, make good fillers, too. Garden centers bring in “starter” shrubs in 4-inch pots that are perfect for containers.

•Try a few hardy evergreen groundcovers like nonaggressive ornamental ivies, trailing Euonymus, wire vine or creeping Jenny. One of the beautiful things about winter containers is that we don’t have to worry about sun or shade, so we can combine sun-loving and shade-loving plants into the same container.

In spring when we dissemble the arrangement, we simply put the plants into the appropriate areas of our garden. Another little trick is to take twigs of contorted willow or red twig dogwood (without roots) and shove them into the soil as accents. Often by spring they will have rooted and will be ready for transplanting elsewhere. Of course, pieces of art or garden ornamentation are nice accents, too.

While your focus should be on foliage, don’t be afraid to use some seasonal color, like mums, asters, pansies or violas. You can always replace them later in the fall once they have faded.

As far as maintenance is concerned, as long as you use some fresh potting soil and apply a little fertilizer the first month you should be good for the whole winter.

So rip out those tired summer annuals and surprise yourself this fall with a long-lasting winter interest planter.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net

More in Business

Before and after photographs of the fire and nature’s recovery at Steve Smith’s house. (Courtesy Photos)
Nature’s healing powers: You can’t even tell there was a fire anymore

By Steve Smith As the season winds down and the garden is… Continue reading

So many benefits to a ‘real’ Christmas tree

By Steve Smith As gardeners, the concept of “going natural” is nothing… Continue reading

More new goodies to be looking for in 2020

By Steve Smith Back in September, I introduced you to several new… Continue reading

A hardy fall container.
Garden list of things to do this month

By Steve Smith Here’s an all-in-one-place list of chores for the month.… Continue reading

It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, but do it anyway to have flowers during winter

By Steve Smith As the temperature drops, along with all the leaves… Continue reading

Planting bulbs now can bring you beautiful flowers like tulips and daffodils later on. (Courtesy Photo)
Bulbs: Mother Nature’s little anti-depressants

By Steve Smith The dark season is upon us, and it seems… Continue reading

You can have a fun bud-blooming time this winter

By Steve Smith First off, I suspect you would like an explanation… Continue reading

From left, Fahlman, Nehring, Pierce and Craven
Business Summit talks about future of Cascade Industrial Center

MARYSVILLE – If you want the Cascade Industrial Center to be a… Continue reading

A geranium. (Courtesy Photo)
Don’t let begonias be bygones; save them until spring

By Steve Smith With the mercury dipping into the low 30s I… Continue reading

Globe 3rd in state for general excellence

MARYSVILLE – The Marysville Globe placed third in the largest circulation category… Continue reading

Mums in fall. (Courtesy Photos)
Out with the old, in with the new in colorful October

By Steve Smith Of all the seasons fall is my favorite and… Continue reading

Grand opening for newly expanded Arlington casino set for Oct. 24

ARLINGTON – Angel Of The Winds Casino Resort will celebrate the grand… Continue reading