Unless we are talking about compost, brown in the summer landscape is usually a sign of trouble. Brown grass is grass in need of rain. That cinnamon orange color means the yew is stone cold dead. Burnt brown leaves on a shade tree can mean a lot of things-none of them good. Brown blotches on the maple tree leaves and roses-a fungus at work. But there are some brown foliaged plants that are quite handsome. Having planted my pots at home with color loud enough to make some people wince, I decided maybe a quieter year was in order.
Pairing the brown vine with silvery grey green seemed like a moody choice. At first, it even seemed crabby. But it did not take long for me to fall for it. This is the best part of gardening with containers-the opportunity to try something new. I have has these Italian terra cotta urns a long time. That goat man is a feature of this pot; the blue sedum in front will never obscure that face. The silver dichondra grows long. By the end of the summer, it will reach the ground. The leaves are amazingly shiny. That surface is a good textural contrast to the felted leaves of the dusty miller.
The potato vine references the color of the Italian clay. A variety of grey foliaged plants, including Victorian rosemary, sage, variegated licorice, and variegated thyme are talking quietly amongst themselves about texture and form.
The red-brown foliaged hibiscus grows tall and wide. By summer’s end, it will make a wall of its own at the end of the terrace. The leaves of pink polka dot plant are green, splashed with pink. From a distance they look brownish. The blue flapjack kalanchoe in the small pot is not a grey foliaged plant, but the color harmonizes well with grey.
A variegated lavender and variegated sedum has the same blue green look as the kalanchoe. The variegated centerpiece whose name I do not know had decidedly brown stems-a subtle feature that pleases me. The carex frosted curls is as graceful as can be.
My antique Italian olive jar is home to an olive tree Rob bought me at a nursery in Austin Texas. This is its first summer outdoors-I usually keep it in the shop greenhouse. It must be happy-it is growing. The ruff of santolina adds a little substantive transition between the tree and its pot. I greatly like how these plantings harmonize with the color of the brick, the furniture, and the old decking. This has been a fairly easy planting to look after, as all of these plants are drought resistant.
I am growing two of what I call fancy leaved begonias. The escargot begonia looks brown, or green, or grey, depending on the light and time of day. The pepperomias on either side are a dark steely grey. Though I am a fan of pepperomias in general, I have always shied away from this one. Some plants are of a color that is hard to use. I am so glad that this pepperomia and this escargot begonia found each other. The white arrow leaved caladiums make the dark colors read clearly. A green backdrop would make the colors of the foreground plants look muddy. The silver leaved begonia has grown considerably in just 2 months. The underplanting of green tropical ferns disguise those begonia legs. So far, so good with these. I am very careful to keep them as dry as possible, which helps avoid rot and fungus.
In the driveway, the chocolate coleus makes a very strong statement. I like it better than anything else I have ever planted in front of this wall. As this garden is primarily viewed from away and above, a little white in the form of mandevillea, petunias, euphorbia Diamond Frost and 3D osteos keeps things lively.
The colorblaze Velvet mocha coleus I would use again. It is a very willing grower. The color is clear and rich, and does not fade. It makes a very handsome annual hedge.
I will be interested to see if the 3D osteospermum come back into bloom in the fall. But for their stubbornly bushy and mostly green state, I am enjoying what is going on here. These colors look great with the brown of the driveway brick, and the yellow brown stone walls.