Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
January, 2004
Regional Report

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Various foliage shapes and colors of geraniums stand out when planted together.

Foliage Combinations

When faced with a smorgasbord of plants spread out in long rows at nurseries, my heart races and I want to pile one of everything onto the wagon. Although it satisfies some deep-souled plant addiction, it doesn't always translate into a harmonious planting when I return home.

I've been spending more time at the nursery, clustering pots together, adding and subtracting plants and standing back to see if I'm creating the look I want. This is lots of fun, and nursery employees are usually keen to assist, suggesting some gems I might not otherwise spot. It also saves a return trip to the nursery after getting down and dirty on my knees and realizing that my creation needs "a little something" to make it stand out.

Foliage Medleys
Everyone has favorite flower colors, and that's probably the first thing we think about when combining plants. But don't ignore foliage color, shape, and texture. Coleus is a great foliage plant available in loads of striking colors. You may need to buy seeds and start your own to get the more unusual colors. 'Scarlet Wizard' has rich red centers and yellow margins. 'Klondike' has a rusty center with yellowish-chartreuse margins. It looks great paired with chartreuse foliage.

'Orange King' is a limey yellow shade with burgundy veins and stems (okay, it's called "orange," but color is in the eye of the beholder) that is striking next to purple wandering jew or black sweet potato vine. 'Palisandra' has almost black foliage that looks like smooth velvet next to feathery, silvery foliage like artemisia.

Geraniums are another common plant becoming more available in intriguing foliage colors and shapes, such as white margins or chocolate brown centers. There's also one with yellow, green, and brown patterned leaves. Try it with coleus 'Aurora Chocomint,' which has green margins and brown centers. Mix and match plants at the nursery to see what you can come up with. When placed near each other, the differences may really pop.

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Today's site banner is by nmumpton and is called "Gymnocalycium andreae"