Consider the Leaf: Foliage in Garden Designby Judy Glattstein
What gardener hasn't been disappointed with borders after spring blooms have faded? Designing a garden with the focus on flowers is missing half the fun, according to the author, an expert plantswoman and popular horticultural educator. Working on the premise that the form of the leaf is the most important design element, Glattstein explains the basic leaf shapes and how to balance them pleasingly. Color also adds dimension to plantings, and Glattstein includes individual chapters focusing on specific tonal palettes. Each chapter is filled with plant suggestions and hints for successfully incorporating foliage into the garden. More than 110 photographs illustrate foliage effects, from subtle to dramatic. This lively and information-rich book will benefit gardeners and landscape designers alike.
- Timber Press, Incorporated
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Read an Excerpt
Foliage has an important role to play in garden design. I am not suggesting you garden sans flowers, merely that you give leaves the same kind of consideration. Leaves can function like a supporting cast, scarcely noticed for the stars of the performance, or they can work together with flowers in an ensemble production. We think of certain showy flowers as seasonal signifiers. The first daffodils and pussy willows are exciting reminders of spring, just as chrysanthemums are a sign of autumn (At least they used to be. Clever manipulation of day length and temperatures now make chrysanthemums a year-round affair, and tulips are getting there too). Pity. Foliage can be just as powerful an indicator of seasonal change — sometimes blatantly so, as when leaves turn bright colors in autumn, and sometimes in a quite subtle manner, as when the pink-flushed fuzzy white leaves of oaks unfold from winter's resting buds. Winter flowers, so popular in English gardening, are scarce to nonexistent in much of the United States. Evergreen foliage can provide a quiet contrast to gray or brown twigs and bark, and to white winter snow.
Traditional Japanese garden design relies very strongly on foliage. Gardens tend to be small, so there isn't space for short-lived flowers. Rather, a potted herbaceous perennial or bulb — a chrysanthemum in fall, a lily in summer — is brought on stage when in bloom and then discreetly retired from view. The technique is similar, albeit more intensive in magnitude, with the great English estates. Passing moments in the garden see flowering plants removed and understudy replacements brought from the wings to be planted out for the next act.
Japanese poetic traditions strongly associate plants (sometimes flowers, sometimes foliage) with the cycles of their seasons. Keeping in mind that the classical Japanese calendar has a lunar cycle, unlike the arbitrary months of the Gregorian calendar, it is interesting to note these associations. Tree buds (ko no me) signify midspring, early March to early April, while young green plants (wakamidori) allude to late spring, early April to early May. Bamboo autumn (take no aki) is another poetic reference to late spring, that time of year when the leaves of evergreen bamboo turn yellow. Sprouting grasses and forbs (shitamoe) and fiddlehead ferns (warabi) are also used to manifest early and midspring.
Meet the Author
Judy Glattstein is a garden consultant and the author of several gardening books—Bulbs for Garden Habitats is her third book on bulbs—and numerous magazine and newspaper articles. She is a popular instructor at the New York Botanical Garden and the Cook College Office of Continuing Professional Education at Rutgers University and lectures widely both in the United States and abroad. An enthusiastic gardener, she finds less time available for her own garden in western New Jersey than she would like; nonetheless, the tens of thousands of bulbs she's planted return year after year whether or not she finishes all her garden chores.
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