I have previously written about good-looking leaves in winter, as well as my love of white winter flowers. This week I have been admiring some attractive, silver- and white-variegated foliage plants that are echoing some of my white winter blooms or nearby solid-coloured leaves. I have always enjoyed creating such colour echoes in the garden. There is something incredibly satisfying in these combinations, though it is hard to articulate exactly why! The pairings I found in my garden today were all growing in shaded areas, so the leaves were also brightening up gloomy spots as well.
I have been enjoying for some weeks now the fresh foliage of the white-variegated annual/biennial honesty (Lunaria annua var. albiflora 'Alba Variegata') with the cute white blooms of Haemanthus albiflos, sometimes known as the shaving brush plant (pictured at the start of the blog). This year, the blooms were obscured by the fleshy leaves of the bulbs, so I cut them off and have been pleased I did that. Nearby, some fans of the white-variegated form of Iris japonica add their crisp lines to the scene, and there are also several clumps of icy white-belled snowflakes in this bed. In the same bed is a large specimen on Camellia japonica 'Lovelight' with gorgeous large semi-double flowers of pure white, with a thicket of stamens in their centres rather like the form of the Haemanthus and I enjoy seeing the fallen blooms nearby the bulbs!
In a nearby shady area of my garden, I am appreciating the white-edged foliage of Plectranthus forsteri 'Marginatus', a rambling groundcover that is nestled amongst some plants of the indefatigable Euphorbia hypericifolia 'Diamond Frost', which seems to produce its tiny white blooms in sun or shade. Nearby is the silvery-foliaged shrub Strobilanthes gossypina (sometimes called the pewter bush), a member of the Acanthaceae family that, like most of the tribe, is shade tolerant. I enjoy the combination of silver leaves with white-variegated ones, plus white flowers.
There are few Begonia flowers now that we are in the depths of winter, but those with decorative leaves continue to shine. In another shaded corner of my garden, the attractive foliage of shrubby Begonia 'Little Brother Montgomery' combines with the rhizomatous Begonia 'Silver Jewel' - the silvery-white variegations of both plants are echoed by the ghostly foliage of a miniature Syngonium podophyllum behind them and the metallic leaves of Kalanchoe pumila to one side. In the same bed, a white-flowered Daphne odora is beginning to bloom, extending the colour echoes! The colourful and patterned leaves of rhizomatous Begonia lend themselves to many possible echoes in the winter garden, as the wide range of hues on the leaves of the many cultivars includes brown, gold, lime, pink, purplish brown to near black.
The silvery-white Syngonium near the Begonia plants is also used in another shady area nearby - in this case teamed with an unusual Liriope muscari cultivar called 'Okina', which has superb white leaves in spring, that become variegated with green over summer, but still remaining very striking even in winter, as if they have been brushed with paint.
In some cases, I juxtapose plain green leaves with variegated foliage, so the echo is for the green part of the leaves! In one part of my garden, where a curving path disappears around a corner, with the sunny side of the path being planted with Agapanthus and the shady side with the old-fashioned green-and-white-striped spider plant (Chlorophytym comosum 'Ocean'). In summer, the white flowers of the Agapanthus do form an echo with the spider plants' variegated foliage but even in the dead of winter, this simple, low-maintenance planting is one of my favourite spots for some reason!
Adding some of these plants to your garden can provide some attractive winter vignettes! I'd love to hear of your favourite winter plant combination.
Painting with coleus
10 Oct 21
Coleus can make wonderful pictures in the garden.
03 Oct 21
Tough and undemanding plants from my parents' garden are favourites in my own.
The value of green spaces
26 Sep 21
Earlier this year, I visited Callan Park in Sydney's inner west.
19 Sep 21
Meet some of the ferns that grow well in Sydney,
A garland of daisies
12 Sep 21
Daisies seem to epitomise spring and there are lots to choose from for Sydney gardens.