Hosta sieboldiana elegans
Color is probably the most import characteristic to most gardeners but they forget that green is the most dominant color there. This is a very good thing because green is a very restful, relaxing color and a great background for all the other colors that the flowers bring into a garden. But as we all know, greens vary greatly. In fact, there are hundreds of different greens; Ireland alone claims to have 40 different ones. Since most gardens have more foliage than flowers at any given time, the kind of green is very important to the look of the whole garden as well as the beauty of individual or masses of flowers. Dark greens are especially good as background for bright colored flowers, while chartreuse and lime colored leaves can brighten an area without flowers. 

Take a look at this sampling of foliage and notice how the greens vary. Names given to greens include yellow-green, blue-green, chartreuse, lime, sage, emerald, teal, hunter, dark green, moss green, apple green, fern green, and more. Take a look at the greens in a jumbo set of crayons to get a feel for the names and the colors that go with them. Here’s a sampling of foliage of different color greens.

Agave truncata

Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’)

Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima)

Golden Hops (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’)

Sumac (Rhus typhina ‘Bailtiger’)

Ballota ‘All Hallows Green’

European Wild Ginger (Asarum europaeum)

Pinus mugo ‘Mops’

Arbrovitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’)

Garden Design pointerThe greens of these plants are ever changing throughout the growing season and you have to consider the color of the new growth as well as the color throughout the summer when the sun may change it considerable. Cool temperatures in the fall may bring another set of changes. Notice, too, how texture influences the overall appearance of the green. Leaves the same color look very different if one is fine textured and the other is coarse. Likewise, a shiny leaf looks very different from one with a matte finish. All of these changes have to be considered when making a selection of plants for the garden.

By Chuck