Great Plants Up Close

 great foliage

Maybe we’re getting too caught up with landscaping and we’ve forgotten to look at the plants?

Which wouldn’t be surprising given there’s so much on TV, in magazines and online: all offering fantastic ideas ready for us to put into place in our own gardens. Of course this is fantastic – anything that helps people enjoy their gardens more is fantastic – but maybe we’re thinking so much about the paving, fencing, the water features, fire pits and furniture that we’ve forgotten about the living component.

So I’d like to do my bit to remind us all of how connected plants make us gardeners feel, as long as we slow down long enough to take a closer look at them. I’ve literally just wandered around outside to take these pics (luckily it was sunny) and then I also raided my photo files. Looking at them reminds me (someone who designs landscapes for people) that while the framework is important, the wealth and richness of any garden lies in its green bounty.

Silver Gum tree foliage

Linking colour. Let’s start at my front door which is green. We chose the shade seemingly effortlessly but looking closely at the young foliage of the Silver Princess gum (Eucalyptus caesia), I think we must have picked up on this subliminally. I sometimes throw open the door and take a break sitting on the front step. The breeze sways the tree branches, its bark curls into little cinnamon-like sticks, and I relax.


Tropicanna canna

Leaves acting like flowers. The reaction we have when looking at colour in the garden is visceral and probably hot-wired into our stem cells (or whatever) since the time when we shared the genes with the bees. And most of the time that colour hit comes from a flower not the foliage. But there are exceptions like this Canna. Foliage or flowers it’s important to use colour to lift your spirits and energy.


Monstera Plant

What’s texture? This is what they mean when someone is talking about highly textured plants. We’ve a massive Monstera smothering a fence and helping us to feel a lot further from our neighbour’s place than we really are. And because our main living zone looks straight out towards this fence we carefully picked this bit of texture to distract us. The holey bits in the leaves also gave us the idea to use large circular pavers (sorry I couldn’t get them into the shot) which look really good. This is another example of what can happen when you stop to notice the plants

 Colorful daylily

Colour and texture.  Both these shots show exactly what I mean about the effect of colour and texture. Look at the daylily (above) or the poppy (below) and you can’t help yourself going ‘aahhh’, even if the actual colours aren’t amongst your favourites. Nature clearly wants these flowers to be noticed – probably more by potential pollinators than ourselves, (though by choosing to grow them you could argue that we’re doing our bit to host them). Check out the splatter finish above and the ruffle-y petals and feathery stamens below. Every garden needs to offer us these moments of rah rah and wonder.

Poppy blossom

shadows in the garden

Don’t forget to look up. That’s right. Don’t just walk around your garden bent over looking for weeds, snails and the shy violets. Our deciduous Pomegranate was casting this shadow on the side of the house and I’ve included this shot to remind us of the added dimension these can add to the garden. And then there’s the action that sometimes happens above our heads. Even though the air was perfumed, I don’t think I realized the Magnolia was in bloom until I saw a few of the velvety petals lying on the veranda. I didn’t grab a ladder – I just took this from directly underneath.

Fairy Magnolia blossoms

Nasturium leaves

It’s in the detail.  If you want to feel like an eight-year-old, you need to crouch down and watch the ants climb through the garden. They’ll help you notice the radiating veins of the nasturtium leaves (above) or the lime green bells of the Euphorbia and its silvery velvet friend Plectranthus argentatus (below). And that’s what this is all about, being eight again in our minds so we can appreciate our gardens on a deeper level.





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