Imagine a garden that's on fire with color even though there's nary a flower to be found. The world of vibrant foliage brims with options--bold, beautiful, and so simple to grow. This garden belongs to Robbie Caponetto, whois new to gardening. While work often takes him away from home, he still wants to come back to an easily maintained, colorful border. We think we've found the perfect answer.
What We Did
Planning a garden with flashy foliage is no different from working with flowers. Choose a palette, and look for selections in that color family. Introduce assorted textures, sizes, and shapes for an interesting balance. Read labels to determine how tall and wide plants are when mature.
A 'Sumatrana' red-streaked banana (Musa acuminata 'Sumatrana') becomes the garden's focal point and anchors the bed at one end.This nonhardy selection is planted in a large terra-cotta pot for instant height and to make it easy for Robbie to overwinter it in his basement. Three smaller containers are placed in the bed at equal intervals for additional vertical interest. In these pots we planted two selections of black elephant's ears--one with purplish red stems (Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic') and the other veined in chartreuse (C. esculenta 'Illustris'). The broad, deep-hued leaves form a line of bold foliage throughout the long, narrow bed.
Sun-loving coleus surround the pots and deliver the bulk of the garden's color punch. 'Rustic Orange' coleus, with luscious copper-colored leaves rimmed in bright green, dominate the bed. A burgundy selection, 'Crimson Velvet,' and a chartreuse one, 'Gay's Delight,' complement the scheme, mirroring shades within the orange coleus. Below, 'Aurea' creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea') covers the garden floor with golden leaves.
The wall's deep green blanket of creeping fig vine provides a rich canvas for the vibrant foliage border. Unfortunately, this deep color also makes the border seem dark and confining. To break up this expanse, we placed pots filled with fluorescent green 'Marguerite' sweet potato vine on top of the wall. The vigorous climber drapes down between the elephant's ears and adds an unexpected vertical interjection of color.