34: Autumn 2014

Author: Sue Lander

Love and Lust – Some Variegated Plants

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Mosla dianthera (Lamiaceae family) was love at first sight! I was immediately drawn to its purple tinted leaves which when they emerge in spring are a lovely foil in the garden. I use it next to a delicate Pimpinella – an umbel whose airy seedheads look good floating above. Researching Mosla brings up little information apart from stating it is an annual. It is definitely perennial for me, coming through the last two harsh winters which isn’t surprising as it hails from Russia. It has 6” sprays of mauve-blue flowers in the autumn which makes it very useful but it is the foliage that I like it for. Mine is planted in an east facing border with relatively dry soil. In this present heatwave (summer 2013) it still looks fresh and has kept its purple tint in the centre of the leaf.

Papaver orientale ‘Frosty’ with white-edged hairy foliage was a new acquisition this spring. It can be difficult to obtain – a sport arising at Hardy’s Cottage Garden. It is a ‘marmite’ plant which some dislike but I have always admired it. Some will place it in the border using it as an accent plant where the foliage can really shout. I have it in a small island bed top dressed with gravel which sets it off without jarring the eye. The flower for me takes second place – welcome but fleeting. It is the foliage that I love.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Variegata’ is a classy plant. The flowers are white bordered with pink appearing from September to November. Slightly fragrant, the perfume is more noticeable when grown under cover which might be advisable in colder areas. I grow it in a container, placed against a southwest facing wall. If very cold conditions are forecast it gets moved to shelter. The foliage is matte green with silvery green margins, smart and completely different from other yellow variegated camellias.

A plant I am lusting over (and hope to acquire soon) is Syneilesis palmata ‘Kikko’, the shredded umbrella plant. It is a Japanese perennial in the Asteraceae family which emerges in spring with hairy leaves sporting golden yellow veining giving a very striking effect. The colour subsides in summer and the creamy flowers are insignificant but all this is forgiven as it is the early leaves which are so satisfying. Easily grown in dappled shade, not too dry, achieving up to 90cm in height if the growing conditions are right. A situation in more sun brings out the best leaf effect though. A beautiful woodlander with extraordinary foliage.

First published in the Variegated Group Newsletter Winter 2013
and subsequently in Cornucopia Issue 34.
© Copyright for this article: Sue Lander

This article was taken from a copy of Cornucopia that was published in 2014. You could be reading these articles as they are published to a national audience, by subscribing to Cornucopia.

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