Late Spring: the Benefits of Large Foliage Plants

The plants that are grabbing my attention at the moment are the large leaf plants. Large shapes of green color in contrast with smaller more delicate perennials create a pause and slow you down as you view a large planting.

These are the plants that are staring: Hosta sieboldinia unfurling leaves are stunning and the plant seems to double in size each week. My other favorite hosta is Empress Wu which is on her way to being about six feet wide- said to be the World’s largest hosta.

Hosta Sieboldiana

Rodgersia pinnata has a slight ochre color to the new leaves as they stretch and rise above the surrounding perennials like a giant hand. This perennial feels ancient like a plant that might have been around when dinosaurs roamed. Another giant is Rheum palmatium tanguticum which reaches a height of 6’ft. or more with enormous serrated leaves emerge at the base and the stunning red flowers rocket above the foliage and last from late May into mid June. I planted Synelesis aconitifolia next to a bird bath because the leaves remind me of a splash of water. Another beauty Darmera Peltata – Indian rhubarb is a tall rounded rhubarb reaching a height of 4′ and adds a lot of texture to the border. I planted it in a boggy border where I lost many plants and I am happy to report it is filling in the spot nicely (it will take full sun if the soil is consistently wet.)

Rodgersia Pinnata

Rheum Palmatum

Syneilesis aconitifolia on left
Rodgersia pinnata on right.

Darmera Peltata

I bought Asilbioides tabularis by mail order and have divided it every year for the past ten years. It is a wonderful large rounded leaf plant with some of its leaves can easily reach a width of 30″ inches. Perfect for shade areas where the flat pale green adds light to a dark area of the garden. I first heard of Peltoboykinia wantanabei in a garden talk. The plant is new to my garden, and still getting established but I love it’s serrated leaves and look forward to it filling the space I have given it. BEWARE- Petasites Japonicus known as butterbur, or sweet coltsfoot is a rhizomatous perennial and extremely invasive. I planted this at the base of a tall retaining wall where I could control it by mowing over the escapees. Asarum European – wild ginger is a low growing ground cover with glossy deep green heart shaped leaves. I love contrasting it with variegated foliage. Aralia cordata- Sun King has beautiful chartreuse foliage that really adds brightness into a shade border. By adding a few of these large leaf foliage plants to your flowering perennial borders you will not only add interest, and give breath to take in the more complex shapes and colors of the surrounding perennials.

Astilbiodies Tabularis, Aralia cordata behind, and Anemone sylvestris

Peltoboykinia Wantanabei

Petasites Japonicus

Asarum European

Araila cordata-Sun King

Peltoboykinia Wantanabei
Rodgersia Pinnata, Rodgersia podophylla,
Hosts Empress Wu, Hosta Sieboldiana
Darmera Peltata
Astilbiodies Tabularis
Syneilesis Aconitifolia
Petasites
Asarum European – wild Ginger
Rheum Palmatium Tanguticum
Aralia Cordata- Sun King

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2 Responses to Late Spring: the Benefits of Large Foliage Plants

  1. Yes, however much we love flowers, it is the leaves that carry the garden. Their size, their color, their texture are major factors in the design. If you ever get enough Syneilesis to spare, I would like an offset. I got a very scrawny piece at a plant sale after it had been picked over and it didn’t survive, so I’d like to try again.

  2. Don Statham says:

    Hi Kathy, I can definitely give you some Syneilesis. I got it for a friend and I have two areas of it growing now.

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