There are plants that are disappointing in flower
and many trees are without colourful bark but
there are very few plants that don’t display
interesting leaves. Leaves add structure to
a garden providing a backdrop to the flowers
Many, such as Choisya ternata (Mexican Orange
Blossom), bay tree, eucalyptus tree and lavender,
Leaves come in all shapes and sizes. Cordyline
(Cabbage palm), Phormium (New Zealand flax)
and yucca (Spanish dagger) have long, thin,
sword-like leaves often with sharp tips.
Then there are the palmate or hand shaped leaves.
Good examples include the Japanese maple and
the large, mid-green, leathery fingered leaves
of Fatsia japonica.
good example of a plant with pinnate leaves
is the common ash tree. Others include The Tree
of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima where the whole
leaf is made up of many leaflets resulting in
a structure 60 cm (24 inches) long.
Most hairy leaves have a silky, soft feel. Think
of Lambs’ Ears, Stachys byzantina.
Hydrangea villosa has velvety, dark green, deciduous
foliage. Then there are the plants with rough
surfaced leaves such as Hydrangea sargentiana
with large, dark green, bristly leaves that
make a rasping sound as you move your hand across.
with large leaves are very popular at the present
time. They don’t come much larger than
Gunnera manicata.It is a deciduous perennial
plant with leaves 2 metres( 6 ft ) across on
2.5 metres ( 8 ft) long stalks.
tomentosa is sometimes referred to as the Foxglove
tree. The softly hairy, bright, light green
leaves are 30 cm (12 inches) across. If the
tree is cut down each spring to within 12 inches
of the base it will produce a 2-3 metre(6-10
ft ) high tree within the season and the leaves
will be up to 45 cm (18 inches) in size.
There are sufficient leaves to provide the forty
shades of green along with yellow, red, plum
and blue. In autumn the leaf colour of some
of our deciduous trees is spectacular. Liquidambar,
maple, birch, rhus, chestnut and oak change
from summer green to vivid yellow, orange, red
Variegated foliage is useful in the garden especially
if the plants are evergreen.
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