Here are some photos of interesting leaves of some shade plants in my garden. The garden looks especially appealing when neighbouring plants have some variety in leaf texture, shape, colour surface or size. It draws your eye along, noticing the different consistency of the foliage, coarse or fine, rough or smooth, patterned or solid, large or small, and flat or wavy. I particularly like plants with lacy leaves next to large, solid ones.
Shiny leaves near matte textured leaves make a nice contrast in the shade. The Astilbe simplicifolia and Asarum europaeum (ginger) are the shiniest in my garden. In fact, the Astilbe looks as if a flash has gone off above it, but that’s just the leaves, reflecting the maximum amount of light. The Asarum looks polished to a high gloss. These plants bring a little dazzle to the shade garden.
Some shade plants leaves have subtle colours that catch your eye. The Brunnera, Pulmonaria (lungwort) and ghost fern are the most silvery. Their light colour makes them jump out in the shade. They look appealing near dark green leaves. The Athyrium niponicum (painted fern) and Cimicifuga ramosa (bugbane) have purple highlights, while the Epimedium grandiflorum (barrenwort) has red borders on the new leaves. They look good adjacent to green coloured leaves.
The Brunnera, Heuchera and Hosta have the strongest pattern designs on them. They add a little pizazz to the shady garden bed, so there is not just a solid mass of green. When looking along a garden bed, your eye stops at moment to look at the patterns. The provide a focus, a place to rest.
Some shade plants have a light texture, and some are heavy looking. The Hosta, Helleborus and Asarum are the stiffest leaves. The don’t move much in the breeze, and make a good contrast to the supple movement of ferns. The deeply divided ferns look graceful next to any solid leaves.
A variety of shapes on shade plant leaves make a garden bed more pleasing. The Asarum, Brunnera and Sanguinaria (bloodroot) are the most rounded, making a good foil for long leaves or finely cut ones. The Pulmonaria and Hosta have long leaves, which look attractive beside delicate foliage or rounded shapes.
I made a gallery of foliage pictures to show how a variety of leaves look in the garden. It’s a celebration of photosynthesis. All of these perennials are happy in a shady or part shade garden, with the exception of the spruce, which is more of a shade creator. Do you have any favourite leaves in your garden?
You can click on any picture to enlarge it.