Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Whenever one of my garden beds or borders appears lusterless, I look to giant perennials to quickly enliven the scene with architectural style and diversity. Splays of hefty gunnera leaves or rodgersia foliage provide near-instant gratification. These bountiful beauties also add depth to plantings. If a design just doesn’t jell, it’s often because there are too many like tones or similar flower or leaf sizes. To break the monotony, I throw brawny chocolate ligularia or the fat spires of felty gray mullein into the mix.
Likewise, plantings that lack textural variation and have too many little leaves end up looking fussy, overly detailed, and chaotic. Tiny leaves cry out for a generous expanse of foliage to give contrast to the scene and provide a place for the eye to rest. Just be sure that the perennials you choose are sizable, featuring leaves that are either exceptionally long or at least 5 to 6 inches wide. Over time, these botanical giants will increase in impact as they expand in height and girth.