In this view of the author’s house and garden an absence of flowers is quite noticeable. Commanding the scene are the colors of nature; greens, grays, browns, and blues. Still, Amiable Spouse and I find it pleasing and look upon it with pride when we approach from the house from the street.

People who have visited my garden are most likely shaking their heads as they read this article. They know that flowering plants abound in my garden and undoubtedly believe I’m giving readers a false impression. I am pleased to say that many flowers exist in this landscape. However, they do not hit you in the face and shout their presence immediately; they must be found around the corner; down the path; beyond the gate, and other places where their presence surprises and delights.

ImageMy herb garden is a case in point. No actual flowers are in sight, and yet it is filled with interesting colors, textures, shapes, and scents. Variegated Greek myrtle, gray lavender, purple sage and various greens of the other herbs are assembled in pleasing array. Garden ornaments heighten interest and add a touch of humor. Somewhere a couple of bunny rabbits peek out from among the herbs, and an ornamental butterfly house that hosts more wasps than butterfly caterpillars adds a bit of whimsy. A bird bath serves as a focal point as well as a water source for birds and other wildlife. Do you really miss flowers in this composition?

ImageWho needs flowers in this colorful scene? White caladiums frame the arbor and sidewalk leading to the home’s entrance. Moonflower vine scrambles up the arbor and blooms each evening (oops, a flower). Green dominates, and white adds contrast and sparkle.
Viewers may notice that much of my garden is shaded by trees. This in part accounts for minimal flowers. Most of the garden has partial sun at best, and many places are in heavy shade. Reliance on shade tolerant plants like coleus, caladiums, cannas, and gingers with colorful foliage adds so much color to the shady places that the absence of flowers is hardly noticed. Variations in foliage colors, shapes and textures make this garden seem more “flowerful” than it actually is and further illustrate that flowers are not indispensable in an attractive landscape.
This article is not meant to demean beautiful flower borders and gardens full of flowers. Its intent is merely to point out that flowers are not the only means of incorporating color into gardens. Sometimes foliage colors add just enough sparkle, and sometimes simply green is beautiful, particularly if contrasts in tints and tones of green are present, along with varying textures, shapes, and sizes of plant materials.