From the Sperry Gardens

If you have a good bit of shade in your landscape you’re limited on the flowers that will grow there. Many of us capitalize on interesting textures. However, variegated annuals are also important in creating interest in their surroundings.

I’ve told you about cutting-grown coleus many times in GARDENS Magazine, on the air and here in e-gardens. They are varieties that have been selected because of their reluctance to produce flower stalks. Blooms, it seems, halts production of additional colorful leaves. The plant to the right is a large-leafed type I’ve not grown before. However, it has done so well for me this year that it’s earned a spot in our garden for many summers to come.

The plant taking up most of the rest of this image is white polka dot. Its even more colorful sister, pink polka dot (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is far more popular, but I chose this one because I wanted to stay within the one color group. It grows to 15 to 18 inches tall and looks great from spring until frost.

Hiding in the background is one of the wonderful, subtle color plants of our garden this year. This is a variegated Jerusalem cherry (a pepper relative). You really can’t see enough of it to tell very much, but its gray/green leaves resemble variegated pittosporum. The marble-sized orange-red fruits persist, it seems, for months. While very attractive, they are listed as poisonous and should not be grown where children are present. I have two plants, both in 2-gallon pots, and both far from our house. I’ve had one for two years and the other is new to our garden for 2005. They over-winter easily in my greenhouse, so they’ll be a part of our landscape for several summers to come.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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