BY EKWY P. UZOANYA
THINKING about gardens conjures the image of flowers, scents and nectar. That is why, for example, one talks about garden of roses, violets, amaryllis and azalea. Blooms flare up in their blaze of colours, sputter, seed and they are gone. What remains when the blooms are disappear are the foliage. But even without flowers, foliage can be used to create a lush and beautiful garden.
Many garden plants have leaves that look good all through the seasons. All the gardener needs to do is to explore the possibilities of designing a foliage garden that breathes sophisticated serenity.
Such a garden will take into cognisance texture rather than colour of the plants. Texture refers to the surface quality of the plant. Plant textures can range from fine to coarse and bold. Yet varying shades of greenery can be used to introduce colour into the garden.
Far from being simply green, some foliage plants offer variegated patterns of white, gold, and red, while others have leaves tinged with yellow, blue, or bronze that can act as a focal point or an accent in a colour scheme. Tall, flowing grasses and dense, leafy ferns are ideal for creating a lush and generous look in a small patch of earth.
For instance, planting limited to green palettes can fascinate as much as flamboyant blooms. Using various shades of green only and interweaving delicate, airy foliage with coarser leaves can be used to create an impressive tapestry that is easy on the eyes. In an all-green garden, a single plant with bold, dramatic foliage assumes the focal point where flowers would usually stand. It makes great impact as much as blooms.
Foliage has an essential and complex function in the plant world. It converts sunlight to life-sustaining sugars. In garden design, leaves assume equally important roles. They prolong a border’s attractions through the season, giving it depth, flow, and personality.
Used as hedging, ground cover, background, or striking specimen, foliage defines garden contours and skylines.
Interestingly, foliage plants continue to meet man’s aesthetic needs indoors or outdoors. From frilly fronds to big, bold, brightly coloured leaves, foliage houseplants set the tone in any room.
Care and maintenance
All foliage plants are different but they share certain common basic needs. They need sun, water, light and nutrient in form of fertilizer. They do well with pruning. Spacing when planting will depend on the amount of sunlight required and will vary from one plant to the other. While some prefer shadier spots others love full-sun. It just depends on the plant and its origin.