Six on Saturday: Texture and Form

Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’


A bright flash of darting yellow caught our eye this morning as we were backing out of the drive.  The first two goldfinches of the season, startled by our movement, took off and flew across the garden to a low branch, where they could observe us in safety.

Color excites.  It attracts our attention and directs our eye from one colorful thing to the next.  We were delighted to notice the goldfinches, and my eye lingered on the royal purple panicles of Buddleia just opened and white calla lily blossoms shining in the morning sunlight.


Zantedeschia began to bloom this week in a sea of native perennials.


But too much color, especially if the color mix is random and uncoordinated, sometimes makes us feel a little anxious.   We might feel annoyed or turn away if it doesn’t feel harmonious.  We might need to buffer bright flowers within a frame of green to appreciate them.

And sometimes, I enjoy the restful and calming beauty wrought more of texture than of color.  There are uncounted shades of green.  Especially if one includes the blends of grey-green, silver, chartreuse green, blue-green, and green tinged white.



When one begins to notice the intricate shapes of green leaves, their posture on a stem, and their degree of matte or shiny finish; wonderful compositions grow together from these living brush strokes.  Ferns of all sizes, textures and shades serve as both composition and frame.

I have been seeking out beautiful leaves lately.  I found a new Artemesia ‘Sea Salt’ this week, and am trying it in both a hanging basket and in a rock garden.  Artemesia likes it hot and dry, thrives in full sun and needs little attention.  This one is low growing, and I hope it won’t get washed out in our summer rain.  Its leaves are silvery white.

So many of our foliage plants like ferns and Hosta, Caladiums and Heuchera want shade, that it is good to find interesting foliage plants for full sun.  Calla lily leaves like the sun, and won’t end up chewed by caterpillars the way our Cannas often do.  Stachys is another great silvery grey leaf that thrives in bright parts of the garden.


Gardenia shrubs bloom in full to part sun.


I planted a basket this week for a shady spot, with just an emerald green shield fern in the center, and silvery Dichondra around the edges.  I expect it to be stunning as the Dichondra fills in and drapes over the basket’s sides.  I have some little Begonia semperflorens stems rooting in water, and I’m debating whether to add them around the fern, or just leave the basket in shades of green.  The flowers are a soft pink and the leaves variegated chartreuse and light green.  Too much?



A little bright color cheers us up.  But all things in moderation, right?  This summer I am enjoying the calmer corners of our garden, those bits that invite close observation to fully appreciate their beauty.

The flowers will come and go, as they  always do.  But the tapestry woven by these interesting leaves will last all season.



Woodland Gnome 2020

Visit Illuminations, for a daily photo of something beautiful.

Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator


About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

4 responses to “Six on Saturday: Texture and Form

  1. Ah, a white (but fancy) calla. The simple big white ones are still my favorite because they are what I know. A few grow wild in riparian areas here. They are naturalized, but not aggressive about it. We have a few of the more colorful sorts within the landscapes at work. They suit the landscapes well. Yet, I would still prefer the white.

  2. Monica MacAdams

    Beautiful as always!
    Btw, have you tried acanthus whitewater? Unfortunately, I don’t have a good spot in the garden for it, but have it growing in a pot this year. As a fellow foliage fancier, I think you’d love it too!

    • Thank you, Monica ❤ I love Acanthus 'Whitewater,' but it doesn't perform well for me. Maybe I don't have it in the best spot…. It comes up but doesn't grow very large or bloom. You are inspiring me to do better, because it is a spectacular plant.

      • Monica MacAdams

        Well…the jury is still out. I planted it in a pot with plumbago (to trail and add late season color), but I think it was a mistake. I think the plumbago’s rampant roots are interfering with my beloved whitewater’s development. I think I shd probably dig out the plumbago and move it elsewhere? Or maybe, beautiful though it is, whitewater is just too tricky…if a gardener with your skill has had problems, faint hope for the likes of me!

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