Whether you’re a fanatic for foliage-focused plantings or simply appreciate the many ways that colorful leaves can enhance your flowers, it can be hard to resist the latest anything-but-green perennials and woodies in nursery catalogs and garden-center displays. Take one look at the price tags on these beauties, though, and you may be contemplating a loan to bulk up your plant-buying budget. And then, you’ll still have to wait a couple of years for them to settle in and fill out to their full glory.
There’s a way to make your gardening dollars go further and get faster results at the same time: by taking advantage of the many annuals and tender perennials that are easy to grow from seed. They come in a wide range of heights and colors, so you’re sure to find some that can complement just about any bed, border, or container planting you can dream up, and you’ll be waiting only weeks to start enjoying them.
Lovely in their own right, seed-grown foliage annuals are also useful for testing combinations or large-scale planting plans before fully committing to them. If the heights and colors work out, you can then replace them with similar perennials or shrubs; if not, you can easily replace them with another option the following year.
There are so many excellent seed-grown foliage annuals that I’m dividing them up by color. Let’s start the series with the deliciously dark-leaved options.
When we’re young, we “learn our colors”; when we start gardening, we have to learn them all over again. Well, some of them are the basically the same: white is white, pretty much, and most of us are pretty confident in describing a flower or leaf as red, orange, yellow, or green. When we start getting into blue and purple, though–particularly in catalog descriptions–it’s practically a free-for-all. “Blue” can mean anything from grayish green to a sort of lavender-pink to the blue we learned as a primary color to a distinctly purplish blue. Our purple, too, is often very different from what non-gardeners might describe as that color: “Purple” flowers and foliage may be anything from deep red or burgundy to chocolate brown to a purple so dark it is practically black.
After yet another zinger of a winter storm and no near prospect of seeing bare ground again, things are getting really boring around here. I figured that it was time to take a break from the photography series and find some other excuse for rifling through my image archives, so I thought I’d indulge in another color-theme post. Right now, there’s only one predominant color: white. Well, let’s say four colors: white, black, gray, and silver. (Remember, you should be able to see larger versions of all of these images by clicking on them once or twice.)