Lately I’ve become increasingly interested in shrubs. They provide the all-important structure, of course, but its the range of the foliage color palette that really gets my attention and opens up all sorts of possibilities. This chartreuse-leaved weigela next to the purple berberis is a stimulating color combination in itself, but I’m eager to plant a few glowing powdery-blue-lavender perovskias in their neighborhood and some golden-leaved lamium at their feet for an even juicier effect. The backdrop that shrubs can create in a mixed border adds a whole new range of color combinations that one can work with; almost like creating micro-gardens within a garden, the flowering shrubs are just an extra, added bonus.
Similarly, this purple-leafed cotinus glows like stained-glass when the sun sets west of it. The rosa rubrifolia, with its beautiful blue-grey leaves, that remind me of the bloom on a plum, is a perfect complement and the vibrant monarda and glossy fountain of miscanthus behind it seem to add a sense of levity, while the bright chartreuse groundcover of lamium does what wasabi on sushi does….zing!