Foliage and Fruits of June

Recently a friend told me I needed more color and variegation among the foliage in my garden. I admit that when I think about  plants, the foliage is often an afterthought. That’s one reason I like to participate in Garden Bloggers Foliage Day, sponsored monthly by Christine at My Hesperides Garden, which nudges me to go beyond the flowers.

Gray's Sedge
Gray’s Sedge

There is some interesting foliage in the garden this June, as well as the first fruits and seedheads of the season. Gray’s Sedge (Carex grayi) has very interesting seedheads, perfect for small boys to throw at each other.

Near the Gray’s Sedge is a patch of Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegata’). We inherited this plant, which I know can be a nasty invasive.

Variegated Bishop's Weed, with Gray's Sedge in the background.
Variegated Bishop’s Weed, with Gray’s Sedge in the background.

However, in my garden it has been kept under control. I always pull all the flowers before they bloom, and the plant is limited to a small area. It is surrounded by natives that can more than hold their own – Great Merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora) and Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis).

Having said that, I must risk outraging some by saying that in my view this plant is an attractive groundcover in shade, though I wouldn’t plant more or recommend that anyone else do so.

Our fountain surrounded by Cinnamon Ferns.
Our fountain surrounded by Cinnamon Ferns.

There are lots of ferns in the shady parts of our garden. A patch of Cinnamon Fern (Osmandustrum cinnamomeum) around our little fountain takes over after the Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) die back.

Lady Ferns
Lady Ferns mix with Great Merrybells, Wild Ginger, and ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea. 

Lady Ferns (Athyrium filix-femina) are perhaps named for their rather demure behavior, at least compared to many other ferns. They grow along the west side of the house.

The remaining Ostrich Ferns in the foundation bed.
The remaining Ostrich Ferns in the foundation bed.

Majestic, beautiful and rambunctious rather than demure are the Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) in the front foundation bed. In fact I just dug out a small mountain of Ostrich Ferns to prevent a total takeover.

An alarmingly large hole is the result, as I trampled the Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) that grew among the ferns. There was no way to remove these ferns delicately. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Paeonia anomala
Paeonia anomala

The Peonies are done blooming, but their foliage is still looking good, particularly that of Paeonia anomala.

Berries of Starry Solomon's Plume.
Berries of Starry Solomon’s Plume.

I really love the berries of Starry Solomon’s Plume (Smilacina stellata) when they are at their striped stage (eventually they turn red).

2013-07-04 11.56.41 red elderberry
Red Elderberry

June is a time for other fruits as well: Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora), Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginica), and Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa). The Red Elderberry is supposed to be very popular with birds, but they seem to leave the fruit on my shrubs alone.


The big Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana) in the Sidewalk Border did not bloom much this year, and the new foliage looks almost chartreuse. Nice, but a sign of decline?

For more intriguing foliage, visit My Hesperides Garden.

45 Comments on “Foliage and Fruits of June

  1. Start a spreadsheet and put me in the column with you as liking and being able to control Bishop’s Weed. I love the varigated leaves and enjoy it as a ground cover and as a draping vine in my containers. It pulls out easy enough and usually I just pitch the ones from my container plants and that keeps the number in check. I love ferns even wild ones but I’ve been doing a lot of work to keep them in check. 🙂 And, I’d stick to that story about the Bleeding Heart too.

    • I shouldn’t have waited so long to push back against the ostrich fern. If I’d done it earlier it might not have looked like such a scene of devastation.

  2. Lovely! And let’s hear it for foliage, whatever the color. Green is always beautiful.

  3. Lovely leafy greens, all around. I especially like that second combo-the Variegated Bishop’s Weed sets everything else off beautifully!

  4. Digging out Ostrich ferns? How nice to have such a problem. Shame about the Bleeding heart, but I have found that the harder I try to avoid stepping on something while digging, the more likely it is to occur.

  5. Thanks for the id on what I have just called ‘Sputnik grass’ (bet you can guess what I mean). Those striped berries are delightful. Is it a “wink and you”ll miss it” phenomenon?

    • I’ve heard that the variegated is easier, although I’ve also heard it can revert, which is why I always cut off the flowers umbels.

  6. You have some lovely foliage but as I spend my life trying to get rid of ground elder the thought of planting it gives me the horrors.

  7. haha I think your ‘friend’ is wrong. It seems to me you have a lot of variety ….

  8. Have to agree with Debra – there is plenty of interesting foliage in the garden. We don’t have bishopsweed in Australia, and while I have read about how invasive it can be, yours does look quite attractive and a lot less maintenance than hostas for a shady spot. Those cinnamon ferns are particularly delightful!

    • I think ferns always look good near a fountain. I don’t grow Hostas and didn’t realize they need a lot of maintenance.

  9. The red elderberry is pretty and very bright. You time of flowers is on the way. The only problem with all the green is the that the people that don’t know native plants look at them as weeds until they bloom. But fern are great garden plants that add lots of texture. I just bought the most beautiful fern today and my friend put back the most unusual one I ever saw because it was an annual. Had the nursery owner not told my friend, she would have had the coolest fern for the shortest time.

    • I really like the way ferns look but I hesitate to plant more because they don’t seem to have a lot of wildlife benefit. I have a difficult area in and around a hedge that needs a fast-growing groundcover. I’m thinking of planting something called hay-scented fern. Have you used it?

  10. I agree with you on the variegated bishops weed….I like the contrast in my shade garden that it creates. All outstanding shots of your garden foliage Jason! And that Starry Solomon’s is incredible! I don’t have that one but it is now on my list! Have a great week and such a beautiful garden you have! Nicole

    • Starry Solomon’s Plume is good to mix with taller plants. It doesn’t cover the ground densely and will weave around companions.

  11. I recently saw variegated ground elder (Bishop weed) as a ground cover under shrubs in very dense dry shade in a London garden on the occasion of London Open Gardens Weekend. It really brightened things up. I am a sucker for variegation although I know good gardeners who have a thing about variegated plants and never use them

  12. Looking beautiful! I love what you call Bishop’s Weed (they call it Gout Weed here and I like your name better. It came to me from special people. I have it two places – one where it is easily controlled by the lawn mower and one that I really shouldn’t have it. It’s creeping into a flower bed and underneath a rose bush. I will have to deal with that in the fall, or maybe when the garden tour is over.

  13. What a lovely selection of foliage, I do think the fountain and ferns look good! Those berries on the solomon’s plume are really interesting……I have an endless battle with ground elder, it’s impossible to clear, I’ve even dug whole borders out only for it to return twice as vigourous!xxx

  14. You’ve shown some great foliage this month Jason. I’ve been hesitant to add ferns for fear of having anything else unruly in the garden, so nice to know Lady Fern is well-behaved. A dear friend gave me Variegated Bishop’s Weed and I planted it on the east side of my house. It has indeed crept down the entire bed, but it’s gorgeous all summer. I have to pull it away from some camellias and lenten rose, but otherwise find it useful in covering a narrow bed beside the neighbor’s drive. Sometime I feel guilty and plan to pull it out completely but never happens.

  15. Sorry I was late seeing this Jason. Thank you so much for joining in GBFD this month, I think you’ve shown areas of the garden that I’ve never seen before, all looks fabulous. I especially like the way you use the ferns.

  16. With all the specimens you have in your garden, you have a lovely assortment of leaf shapes, sizes and colors. I really appreciate the foliage in my garden, especially since it predominantly a perennial garden.

  17. If you have the room I guess you can worry about foliage contrast, but if you are on city lots space is limited and sometimes you have to do what you have to do to enjoy what you enjoy. Your garden is beautiful:-)

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