Colorful Foliage in the Spring Garden

Wait...what happened to 'TheRainyDayGardener''s gone. Yes, I forgot about renewing my domain name (again) and I failed to make sure that I had a non-expired credit card attached to renew the account automatically.  Henceforth...this shall be 'TheRainyDayGarden' blog! (It was the closest URL available.)

Onto colorful foliage in the spring garden as spring is not just about burgeoning blooms.

NOID acer palmatium..quite spectacular color on the newly emerging leaves
In my attempt to grow as a gardener and expand the points of interest in my garden, I've been keeping an eye out for plants with colorful foliage. Japanese maples are a favorite as many varieties offer three seasons of color variations. Above, a Japanese maple 'acer palmatium' that I picked up at one of our Oregon garden bloggers plant swaps from Alyse over at Garden Inspiration blog.

Is that a bronze alien arm? Nope..just 'rodgerisa p. rotlaub' coupled with heuchera 'Mircale', lupine and a dash of aquilega 'Leprechaun Gold'
The vignette above was quite the pretty scene earlier in April. I love rodgerisa. It's hard to find a truly deep bronze color in the spring garden and this plant hits the spot.

Below is another Japanese maple that I have been nursing along. It came as a tiny little twig and big enough now to make a dramatic color impact.

Another gorgeous Japanese maple, Acer Palmatum 'Mikazuiki'
Below, in the shade garden, oxalis 'Klamath Ruby' looks bright in contrast to the cooler hue of the aquilega. The undersides of this oxalis are a soft, ruby red...a gorgeous ground cover plant.

oxalis 'Klamath Ruby'

And here is the northern Oregon version, oxalis oregana. This perennial clumps nicely and spreads as well, but not voraciously. It creates a perfect spring green carpet.

Below is a shrub that I fell in love with. I bought one (phycocarpus oplifolius) ninebark 'Center Glow' a few years ago. The new foliage is bronze on the outer edges with a center of chartreuse green. I  have three now. The foliage turns a rich-burgundy hue by summer. They are vase shaped and can grow to 6-8 feet. It's become my go-to accent plant in foundation beds.

Ninebark 'Center Glow'
Hello pretty epimedium! The new foliage on 'Sulphureum' is a soft ruby red tone, with chartreuse centers. (Notice a pattern to what I like in the garden..?) It's a nice contrast to the otherwise 'green' ground covers in the shade garden that I currently grow. I'd be happy if it spread out a bit more. The simple, butter yellow, little blooms are icing on the cake.

Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum'
A variation of our native vine maple (acer circinatum) is 'Sunglow'. Maples are truly a focal point in my spring (and autumn gardens) Sometimes, I think I want a larger yard, just so I can plant more of them. (Really, I can barely manage the plants I current have growing..)

acer circinatum 'Sunglow'
The brilliant thing about 'Sunglow' is that it is very slow growing. It may reach 6 feet in 10 years. It is native to our region, but you might be forgiven if you thought it was a hybrid due to that stand out color. I have placed it front and center by the steps to my front door. New foliage emerges chartreuse with a touch of apricot at the edge and look at those bright red stems!

I'm getting closer to accomplishing my goal of a balanced approach to foliage/blossom color in spring. When those blooms fade, the foliage keeps my interest.

Happy Spring..Let Color Reign!

Cheers, Jenni


  1. I love the foliage on dark-leaved ninebarks too, and they're relatively drought-tolerant as well.

    1. Hi Alison! I'll be curious to see how my ninebarks fare. Two of them are going to get more shade than I'd hoped. The monster houses next door really cast a shadow...

  2. i have one of Alyse's Japanese maple 'acer palmatium' that I picked up at one of our Oregon garden bloggers plant swaps and it has that same beautiful new foliage, with three adorable little mushrooms growing in the compost i put around it recently. Having focused most of my life strictly on flowers, i am still learning all the foliage plants that really bring the garden alive. Lime green bright leaves, i count on them to light up the abundant shade i garden in. Still awaiting the sprouting forth of my rodgerisa.

    1. Surely the rodgerisa will pop up soon! When I took home Alyse's little tree last year, I had no idea how pretty that new spring foliage would be. What a treat!


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