This dramatic image – part of the new beds in our back garden – demonstrates the power of foliage alone to create really stylish compositions.
Most of the drama comes from the fresh upright growth of the white foxgloves, but their magnificent silver backed spires are shown off so well by the structural foliage around them.
The dark background is a hedge of neatly trimmed box-leaf honeysuckle (lonicera nitida) . The clipped balls either side are simple box (buxus sempervirens). These clearly defined forms have a solidity and simplicity which sets off the looser shapes around them. Being evergreen they stand out and provide structure throughout the winter when the herbaceous plants have disappeared. They look particularly dramatic when outlined in frost or snow. Sunlight casts shadows and highlights their architecture at surprising times.
The whole bed is very satisfying even without a single flower. As well as the foxgloves the ferns (centre), peony (bottom right) and ornamental grasses (foreground) also contribute characterful textures. The area gets morning sun, but is protected from the harsh rays of mid day. It is located right outside our dining room bifold doors so is seen up close every day of the year. The calming effect of simple foliage with occasional highlights of white flowers is terribly stylish. Love it.
Here is the whole bed seen from the kitchen patio doors just after rain. The decking posts, simple materials and focus on foliage convey some of the serenity of the traditional Japanese garden yet this is an entirely English affair: No azaleas, maples or bamboo. No stone lanterns or other cultural paraphernalia. Just good taste.
In my next post I will focus on some of the key plants that contribute to the planting.