Interesting Foliage Plants

posted in: Gardening | 10
Two weeks ago while taking photos for What’s in Bloom in May? I also captured the fresh spring growth of some of the interesting foliage plants in the garden. Despite just having had the coldest UK spring in over 50 years the garden is finally starting to turn lush with various leaf colours and textures. In fact one or two daffodils still remain. While on a few occasions the nightly temperatures have dipped to a low 3 degrees C. Thankfully we never had any late frosts to damage the apple and plum blossom and there are plenty of pollinating insects about in the garden.


Interesting Foliage Plants

Acer palmatum  var. dissectum ‘Garnet’

Back in May behind the finely dissected red foliage from the Japanese maple the purple drumsticks  Primula denticulata were still in flower. While the yellow Caltha palustris daisies (Kingcup, Marsh Marigold) were blooming in the pond. The Caltha daisy is always a very popular plant for the metamorphism of the large red damselflies each year from the pond.

Japanese maple Acer palmatum var dissectum 'Garnet'
Interesting Foliage Plants – Acer palmatum var dissectum ‘Garnet’  May 2013

Acer palmatum
‘Orange Dream’

Back in May the lovely soft orange/yellow leaves from the Japanese Maple ‘Orange Dream’ were individually edged with a burnt orange coloured fringe. Now in June the edges of the leaves just show a faint orange edge and the leaves are much more golden. Moreover it’s my favourite tree to photograph. As a result one particular image of the leaves went Hot on G+ a few weeks ago.  Click here to view that image – ‘Refreshing’.


Interesting Foliage Plants - Japanese maple Acer palmatum 'Orange Dream'
Interesting Foliage Plants – Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream’  May 2013


Cornus alba ‘Baton Rouge’

All winter the bright red stems from the Cornus alba  ‘Baton Rouge’ demanded attention. Two weeks ago the leaves were just starting to open and the stems were still a vivid red. Now that we’re in the first week of June the leaves have opened fully and the red stems have faded to more of a reddish amber colour.


red stems from Cornus alba 'Baton Rouge'
Cornus alba  ‘Baton Rouge’  May 2013


Humulus lupus ‘Aureas’

The climbing Humulus lupus ‘Aureas’  (Golden Hop Vine) is being kept within its boundaries as it wraps itself naturally clockwise around the blue arch.  Did you know that most other climbers in the garden wrap themselves anti-clockwise around their supports?

climbing Humulus lupus 'Aureas' golden hop vine
Interesting Foliage Plants – Humulus lupus  May 2013

It’s a plant that I need to be careful around as I ‘train’ the wayward stems back within their boundaries. Long sleeves are a necessity as I’m allergic to the fine hairs which can leave a rash on my bare skin. In June it provides a foliage backdrop to the Alliums and Icelandic Poppies.

Humulus lupus, Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation' and orange Papaver 'Little Gnome'
Humulus lupus,  Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ and orange Papaver ‘Little Gnome’  June 2013

Corylus avellana contorta ‘Red Majestic’

The Corylus avellana contorta ‘Red Majestic’ looks superb in the evening sunlight as the light filters through the leaves and turns the undersides into a lovely burnt orange colour.

Corylus avellana contorta 'Red Majestic'
Interesting Foliage Plants – Corylus avellana contorta ‘Red Majestic’  May 2013

Now that a few more weeks have passed by the rough corrugated looking leaves are much larger and the contorted stems are almost hidden by the foliage.

Interesting Foliage Plants - Corylus avellana contorta 'Red Majestic' with Malus blossom and Primula 'Millars Crimson' in the background
Corylus avellana contorta ‘Red Majestic’ with Malus blossom and Primula japonica  ‘Millars Crimson’  in the background
June 2013


This year the red colour from the Pieris new growth is unblemished due to the lack of frosts.  All the shrub needs just now is a little feed of sequestrene to green up those leaves. In the background are the perennial Ballerina tulips.

Interesting Foliage Plants - pieris
Pieris  May 2013

A few weeks later and the shrub is now the foliage backdrop to the Alliums.

Pieris, Euporbia polychroma and Alliums
Pieris, Euporbia  polychroma and Alliums June 2013

Sorbus sorbifolia ‘Sem’

One of my favourite foliage plants is the Sorbus sorbifolia ‘Sem’ with it’s ferny soft salmon pink fresh new growth. The foliage hasn’t changed much at all since I took this photograph in May.

Interesting Foliage Plants - Sorbus sorbifolia 'Sem'
Interesting Foliage Plants – Sorbus sorbifolia ‘Sem’


Actinidia kolomikta

The female Kiwi vine Actinidia kolomikta has coloured up really well with splashes of pink and white on the leaves.

Actinidia kolomikta
Interesting Foliage Plants – Actinidia kolomikta  June 2013

Calamagrostis x acutiflora

While the Calamagrostis is providing a great backdrop for more of those alliums!

Calamagrostis x acutiflora
Interesting Foliage Plants – Calamagrostis x acutiflora  June 2013

. . . and finally there’s some golden rain falling from on high. The Laburnum tree is at its peak flowering stage this week as it rises above the Pieris, euphorbia and the purple alliums.

Laburnum x watereri 'Vossii'
Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’ above the Pieris  June 2013

What are your favourite foliage plants for the garden?


Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh. She also writes and shares her nature images on

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10 Responses

  1. ann

    I do enjoy your photos. I like to see how you edit them and wish I knew how you did it. Beautiful.

  2. Rosie Nixon

    @annThanks Ann – alot of the work is done by whichever lens I'm using. Other than turning my images from raw to jpeg in Adobe camera raw and doing a levels or curves adjustment and sharpening there's very little else done to them before them appear on the blog. I leave the more arty photo edits for facebook and google plus.

  3. Mark and Gaz

    The different shades of green (and other colours) you see in the spring is always a wonderful sight to behold. Fab photography as always!

  4. Gardening in a Sandbox

    It was wonderful to see we have some of the same things in bloom just now. Love the combination of purple allium with the yellow spurge. Delightful look at your May garden. Valerie

  5. Carolyn ♥

    Your emerging foliage is fantastic. What a magical season in your gardens. We are finally full into Summer weather and the perennials are popping gleefully. Wonderful after such a cold and very late Spring.

  6. Janet/Plantaliscious

    I love this time of year, when everything is bursting in to life and all the colours are so fresh. I really like the Calamagrostis with the alliums.

  7. James Missier

    I'm still amaze at the colours that comes in your garden.
    There is something so dazzling about those tiny little leaves that appear like small little hands in the palms of the vines.

    Those innocent dashes of reds seemed to speak a huge volume in your garden. Very poetic indeed.

  8. Alistair

    Fantastic pictures of the foliage plants in your garden in early June. The Actinidia kolomikta took me back a number of years ago when we planted it against a fence in a sunny spot. The leaves coloured up nicely but were much larger than we expected.