A New Leaf

How can you resist such temptation? Why even try! Photo credit; Terra Nova Nurseries


Forget the resolutions to eat less and exercise more. Good ideas but hardly enough to get excited about. Now if we're talking finding the hottest plants for 2013 THEN I get excited, especially if we're talking great foliage.

Here are some of the best new leafy introductions to watch out for and there's not a single calorie to worry about.

Yes the flowers are zingy but look at those leaves on 'Sparks Will Fly' begonia! Photo credit; Ball Horticultural


Begonia ‘Sparks will fly’

Now if this beauty had a flavor it would be rich bittersweet chocolate with hints of zesty orange  (can you gain weight if you just think about chocolate?) Those lickalicious deep blackish-green leaves set off firecracker flowers perfectly. Imagine this in a bright blue container. Not for the faint of heart but definitely top of my wish list for  shady spot this summer. Yum.

Wake up your containers with 'Sunrise Falls' trailing Heucherella. Photo credit; Terra Nova Nurseries


Heucherella ‘Sunrise Falls’

Does the world need any more Heucherella (or Heuchera come to that)? Well apparently we do because propagators like Terra Nova Nurseries keep growing them and we keep buying them ! So what has caught my eye this time? Sunrise Falls. Is that a yawn I hear? Well wake up because this is a trailing variety. I've used Redstone Falls and Yellowstone Falls in containers for the last two years and clients love them yet they can languish in the nurseries simply because their star status is unrealized. Plant these at the edge of a container and the large maple shaped leaves will tumble downwards for 2’ or so adding a bright splash of gold to a shady spot. Each leaf has dark red veins and  takes on burgundy tints in colder weather. Hardy in zones 4-9

Compact and curly, this new Leucothoe is on my wish list. Photo credit; www.thepottedgarden.co.uk


Leucothoe ‘Curly Red’. (Leucothoe axillaris)

I'll let you into a secret. The coolest plants don't even make it into the nursery. Seriously. When deliveries arrive you may notice the conspicuous absence of nursery staff. That isn't because they all rush out to help the driver unload out of thoughtfulness. Oh no. They all want to see what goodies have just arrived and anything really new and unusual gets snagged before you even know it’s there! How do I know this? I've worked in a nursery. And this was why when I saw this new leucothoe in a container I was told they were  ‘sold out'. Yeah right. So go and hunt down this one, currently available from Monrovia. The twisted leathery leaves open orange-red and mature to dark green before turning purple-red in fall. Evergreen, deer resistant, great for the garden or pots and white spring flowers.  See why they were ‘sold out’? Part sun/part shade and hardy in zones 6-9.

Doubly fabulous - a great new Solomon's seal. Photo credit; Terra Nova Nurseries


Solomon’s seal ‘Double Stuff’ (Polygonatum odoratum)

It can be dangerous driving with a plant geek. Cars can make abrupt turns or screech to a halt at the merest hint of a nursery. Walking isn't much better. One minute you're chatting away to your friend and the next you realize you are completely alone. Your companion has disappeared like Alice down the rabbit hole but in this case they are likely to be found on hands and knees peering at something leafy. Beware shady encounters with Double Stuff – it will grab your attention like a giant bar of Toblerone. At 2' tall at least you can stay standing up to appreciate this fabulous new foliage plant. Its cousin – the regular variegated Solomon’s seal, pales in comparison with this bold form. Arching red stems hold pairs of green and white variegated leaves joined in spring by dangling white bells. This perennial thrives in moist woodland locations where it will slowly spread by rhizomes. Hardy in zones 3-8

Check out the blog at www.fine-foliage.com

If you'd like to join me in a healthy diet of low calorie leaves this year I have good news for you. Starting today you can enjoy a new blog; Fine Foliage! Yes this is the companion blog to my new book, coauthored with Christina Salwitz. Consider it an appetizer. We'll post a new recipe each week to inspire you to put foliage together in new ways. Tempted?

Meet you at the buffet table; www.fine-foliage.com

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  1. Jeavonna Chapman on January 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Beautiful foliage. Love it.

    • Karen Chapman on January 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Isn't it gorgeous Jeavonna? Lots more foliage ideas on this blog (click the foliage tag) and of course weekly offerings on the new http://www.fine-foliage.com.

  2. debsgarden on January 1, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Love the new begonia! I hope 'Sparks Will Fly' in my own garden. When I saw the photo, I immediately thought of my purple pot that needs an inhabitant, but your suggestion of bright blue really appeals to me! I also checked out your new blog. Looks great! I am looking forward to reading your book!

    • Karen Chapman on January 1, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Purple would be fabulous too but perhaps the foliage would stand out better on bright blue?
      So pleased you like our new blog! We've got some great photos lined up to share.

  3. Foxglove Lane on January 3, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Thank you for your comments throughout the year, so much appreciated. When I come to this site I just want to get out there and take charge of my wilderness!! Wonderful inspiration. Have a great 2013:~))

    • Karen Chapman on January 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Feeling is mutual my gardening friend!

  4. Susan Trindle on January 3, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I love colorful foliage. You can't have everything in flower all the time, especially with drought tolerant plants. Let the foliage do the work.

    • Karen Chapman on January 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      I SO agree – which is why we have written the new book Fine Foliage! Share the leafy love!

  5. Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens on January 5, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Some very intriguing new plants. I am always wary of Terra Nova's new introductions because a lot of them are only suited for where you live. Is the leucothoe native to the US?

    • Karen Chapman on January 5, 2013 at 9:49 am

      I like to try out-of-State introductions in containers for a couple of years to test them out. Then if I feel confident I am OK to splurge on larger, landscape quantities if necessary. I won't deny myself the possiblility of at least trying them!
      Leucothoe axillaris is native to the US – some references say eastern States. There are several gorgeous cultivars now with colorful foliage but this is the first one that I had seen with something other than the classic elliptical leaf.

  6. Susan on January 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Karen I just love the looks of TN's Polygonatum. It will find a place in my yard for sure. The begonia looks great for some container ideas I have. Another bunch of plants I'm planting are the Kennedy Irish Primroses 'Drumcliff' and 'Innisfree'.