August 11, 2013

Maine Gardener: For these two, plants are best as motley crew


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I've read about variegated beeches and Japanese maples, but have never seen them. I wouldn't be surprised if you see more of these reaching the market soon.

There are more variegated grasses than you can count, but with most of them, the variegation is from stripes going along the length of the blade. One of my favorite grasses, Miscanthus sinensis "Strictus," has horizontal variegation of white and green all along its 6-foot-long blades. It is simply gorgeous.

The variegated Solomon's seal is a great plant that Nancy has grown for years. It has green leaves edged in yellow, and while at 2 feet it is shorter than our standard Solomon's seal, it looks great in a bed with lots of hostas.

There are several variegated brunneras, perennial forget-me-nots, that you can consider. "Jack Frost" has green veins on silver leaves and is probably the most popular, but a new introduction, "King's Ransom" with silver foliage, green overlays and a yellow border, is worth consideration.

Japanese painted fern is superb for dense shade. Other variegated perennials include many kinds of heuchera and some pulmonaria. For an annual, the obvious choice is coleus.

You can even grow variegated evergreens. We have a white-tipped hemlock in our back garden that looks good all year long, but is especially attractive in the winter. It grows only about 5 feet tall, so it works in most gardens.

When you're thinking of new perennials or shrubs for your garden, think about plants with colored or variegated foliage. They will keep your garden more colorful all year long.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:


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