COLOR IN FOLIAGE
BY GLADYS JEURINK
We like our
plants to bloom with all their different forms and colors but most of
them do not last very long, especially during hot weather.
The reason for their “showing off” is usually to ensure
pollination and then they fade and the plant concentrates on seed
So to have some
variation from green we can look at foliage and in Nebraska there is a
lot available. One of my
favorites is red and there are many shades and variations of all kinds.
My BANANA PLANT is now about 8 feet tall with its huge green leaves
striped with red. This year
I put it in front of the light green shed for wind protection as those
leaves can tear into long strips. So
far it has two babies coming up to take inside for winter.
year I started seeds of a “black”
COLEUS which is actually dark red. I surrounded my “babies” with
other colors of coleus to make one area. I hunted for different colors or
shades and there are many (most anything but blue). A tall pink one is
my favorite right now. COLEUS come
in all variations of red. I
have never had a bed of just COLEUS
before so I do now. There
are tall ones and short ones, big leaves and small leaves, sun lovers
and shade lovers. I try to watch for the blooms to cut them off as the
plants look scraggly after they have gone to seed.
One of my “fun things” is to find something I have never had
before and try to get it to grow in Nebraska.
I put some lime green ones in with the red. They too are show
offs with spots, different veins, or ruffled leaves, and they last all
For years I
have had a RED LEAVED CANNA
that Ron Koch gave me. Over
the years I have given many away as I dig up four each year for each one
planted. They like sun or slight shade, water, and get about 6 feet
tall. I like them in a
double row behind my bench. The
clumps are right at the top of the soil so are not hard to dig in the
fall. I put them in a wheelbarrow for a few days so the dirt will dry
and then drop off. The stems are big so use a machete to cut them off
before digging. I learned the first year they would clog the grinder so
they don’t go into the compost pile.
There is a CASTOR
BEAN with green leaves and one with red that may be 18 inches
across. Sometimes they
reach ten feet tall so makes a good background. The female blossoms
develop into red, spiny seed pods at the very top.
One note-they are poisonous. The seeds worse than other parts.
The seeds are now being used in a mole remover product. The seed (shell and all) can be ground to put into the runs.
Even the foliage can cause rash in some people so it is wise to wear
Even my RED
BUD TREE is being “funny’. There is a 12 inch hole all the way
through the trunk but it bloomed and leafed out as usual.
The squirrels have found the hole as well as Snoopy who checks it
out every day on his way to the pen as it is not far from the ground.
is another foliage to make the greens shine. Many of the purples are
reddish such as the PURPLE
MAJESTY MILLET (Pennisetum
glaucum). The leaves come up green but after a few inches begin to
turn. The heads are 12-18 inches high and dark purple.
I save the darkest one for seed and let the birds have the rest.
It does look good in a winter bouquet. The big TRI-COLOR BEACH TREE (Fagus
sylvatica) just off 40th and Calvert Streets in Lincoln,
is to envy. Now I see a number of smaller ones in places in Lincoln.
Jane Frisch grows one just to have branches for her flower
arrangements. Each Spring I try to find a Persian Shield (Strobilanthgus
dyecianus) to put in at least one of my pots.
It doesn’t demand shade but I like to keep it away from the
hot, west afternoon sun. It has no special plan for growth so one can
put it in a mixed pot to have grow around and between others, making
them more beautiful.
years ago I was given a WEIGELIA called
“Wine and Roses”. The leaves are reddish purple and the blooms pink.
It has had a struggle. The first winter it froze to the ground but came
up the next spring. This last spring a good portion was leafing out and
then froze, but it is back 5 feet tall and just as wide. No blooms this
spring but am hoping it does better next year.
It is next to a 5 leafed ARALIA,
another foliage shrub of green and white.
The two show each other up and I am afraid that soon their limbs
will be competing for space.
there are the PERILLA’S.
The original is a very dark reddish purple about 3 feet high that seeds
by the thousands. This
spring they were all up and then got frozen by the early April frost.
The only plants to survive were under piles of compost and the seeds did
not come until I moved the compost.
Needless to say, they are in rather strange places.
The other new PERILLA
I have is more tender. It has more red and other colors, and I have
never seen it bloom. Therefore, I take one or two cuttings in the fall
that will root at once and grow inside so by early spring I can take
more cuttings and start as many plants as I like for summer. One plant
will fill a fairly large pot.
may actually be the most colorful part of your garden. Next summer if
you have a spot that needs more color all summer long look to the
foliage to help you out.
OF THE WEEK!!!
will never be better than the grass seed you plant. Buy quality seed.”