Garden color without flowers
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URBANA -- When most home
gardeners contemplate ensuring color in their gardens, thoughts turn
more often than not to flowers. Yet, the color provided by flowers
is fleeting when compared to the leaves of many plants, said a
University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
"If you utilize plants that have
colorful leaves, you'll have color in your garden all the time as
opposed to just when the flowers are in bloom," explained Greg
Stack, who is based in the Chicago area. "You can build a whole
garden around plants with colorful foliage rather than flowers."
Home gardeners can go to "Fantastic
which is part of the
section of the U of I Extension Urban Programs Resource Network, at
"There are many plants that are
excellent choices for garden colors," said Stack. "These include
annuals, hardy perennials and even tropicals that are all suitable
for this use."
"Fantastic Foliage" includes pictures
of these and other plants, including some that may not be
"We want home gardeners to understand
that there are lots of choices out there," he said.
Tropical plants as a color option may
not be the first to occur to Midwestern gardeners' minds, but Stack
points out the advantages.
"When we think of colorful foliage, we
naturally think of tropical plants," he explained. Tropicals with
colorful leaves sustain the garden because of their alluring and
dramatic colors, which never wane.
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"Many of these are termed 'tender
perennials' and need to be brought indoors for the winter in cold
climates, such as those in the upper Midwest, in order to be used
for planting the following season. However, one should not overlook
the many annuals, hardy perennials, trees and shrubs that offer the
benefit of colorful foliage and can be incorporated into the garden
as seasonal favorites or long-term residents."
The site includes a directory of plants
that are suitable for color-providing foliage as well as guidelines
for their use.
For the March 2005 Chicago Garden Show,
Stack plans to build an entire garden called "Tropical Punch" on the
concept of color provided by plants.
always want color and appreciate unique and unusual colors," he
said. "We'll provide that by incorporating the use of tropicals
around annual flowers as a border which accents and highlights those
[University of Illinois news