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Foliage for colour and texture and form

By Bob Bannon, Queensland, story and images

Given flowering can be fleeting, we can look to stunning foliage in our native plants, for colour and texture and form.

Flowers are a bonus, so go with foliage

It’s always difficult to find native plants to fit the bill when there is a plethora of species to choose from. Add to this the various landscape desires and requirements, then throw in flower colours and the plant palette can become quite large.

As Lawrie Smith (the leader of the Garden Design Study Group) has often said “the flowers are a bonus”. They last only a couple of weeks, unless of course, you’re able to grow some of the Grevillea species which flower endlessly. (Angus Stewart has some great information on his website about these grevilleas.)

We don’t all have that luxury, and if you saw the story about our shady garden, you’ll agree that the alternative is to look at the foliage. Foliage can contribute colour, texture, and form, and often displays several times a year.

Favourite shrubs for flower and foliage for colour, texture and form

One of my favourite shrubs would be Syzygium wilsonii,  the Powder-Puff Lilly Pilly. It hails from the rainforests of far north Queensland. The large, dark crimson pom-pom flowers on Syzygium wilsonii are stunning to behold and are truly remarkable.

Its cousin, Syzygium ‘Cascade’ has similar flowers, but to me, play second cousin with their “Watermelon Pink” flower colour.

The shrub is still a great example of a wonderful foliage plant. Allowed to grow, both will reach to about 3 metres by 3 metres. Fortunately, it doesnt mind a severe prune, and looks resplendent with the new growth.

The new, long, lanceolate leaves of both these Lillypillies present in beautiful shades of reds, pinks and bronzes, weeping beautifully at the ends of the branches, standing out against the more mature darker foliage. This carries over the whole shrub, making for a spectacular plant all year round.

So don’t overlook the visual attraction provided by colourful new foliage. This has the potential to add vibrancy and focus to your garden design, particularly colour, texture and form.