I’m big flower lover, but sometimes leaves are just as beautiful as the best blooms! And, of course, leaves often stay looking pretty for far longer than the brief life of a flower. There are tons of great plants with jaw-dropping leaves, but here are some of my favorites. What are yours?
Yucca ‘Color Guard’ (Yucca filamentosa, Zone 4 – 9). The dramatic, spiked leaves of yucca are always great, and ‘Color Guard’ takes it to new heights with a broad, bright yellow stripe down the center of each leaf. The best thing about this is that it looks good absolutely 365 days a year. The leaves hold up right through the cold and snow of winter. They laugh at summer droughts, and deer don’t eat them.
Blue leaved rose (Rosa glauca, zone 2 – 8). I love roses, but most rose have beautiful blooms on frankly ugly plants. Not this species of rose. It forms a large, arching shrub as much as 4 or 5 feet tall, covered in some of the most beautiful leaves out there. Each leaf is silvery grey with a flush of red. The small, pink flowers are second tier when set against those terrific leaves.
Trees like maples are famous for their fall color, but some perennials put on a display that is just as terrific. This mass of Amsonia hubrichtii (Arkansa blue star, Zone 5 – 8) growing in the Lurie garden in downtown Chicago has pretty blue flowers in the spring, but really shines in the fall when the foliage turns a rich, bright, golden yellow.
You can’t mention foliage without talking about coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides, annual)! There are endless choices of coleus on the market, but this has to be one of my very favorites, the cultivar ‘Sedona’ with bright, burning leaves in shades of orange and red. (Get tips on designing with coleus).
Sometimes I like leaves with some attitude… Solanum quitoensis (Naranjilla, annual) has huge leaves covered with vicious looking purple spikes! Try taking a bite out of THAT, deer!
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