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It's not just the flowers that give a soul to the garden! The foliage itself, well combined and varied, creates relief, reflection, drawings, shades of colors ... Here are some ideas for choosing them and creating a soothing garden, with a thousand shades of green! We recently talked about trees and shrubs with decorative foliage to compose the garden. This time, let's focus on the predominantly green leaves, with the idea of creating a monochrome garden. Combined well, they create an impression of lush vegetation, and the garden then looks like a small forest. You feel 'like in the countryside'. Imagine a theater of greenery, effect 'undergrowth', to take a real bath of chlorophyll relaxing and revitalizing at the same time. Of course, most plants, even very green, offer in spring and summer some flowers which then bring a touch of color, but this color can remain discreet (white, yellow or purple), to leave the predominance to green… to green! For a successful result, play on the association of trees and shrubs on different floors, also with perennials, grasses, climbers and other small bonuses 'green'. But let's start with the basics: the ground.
Grass: an ultra-green plot
A beautiful lawn, a green and shiny grass, it is the starting point of a 100% green garden, even if on the decorative side, you can prefer to choose a terrace of wooden planks or a paved courtyard to create the contrast with plants and get a more 'urban' look. If your lawn is sparse and you are looking for a quick and original solution, inlay perennial ground cover like helxine or mazus reptans, which are dense and stay low. You can also play with moss, even at the foot of potted plants, and finally protect the lawn from being trampled around the garden.
Evergreen evergreen trees and shrubs
To plant all around your land or as a backdrop to your garden to frame the space, the evergreen trees and shrubs can create generous hedges. For this, bamboo is ideal for growing a mini-forest curtain. Also choose a fir, beech, hornbeam, laurel, cypress, chestnut or hazelnut, and why not daphniphyllum, eucalyptus, eléagnus, white dogwood, juniper 'Blue Star' or privet from Japan ? For a green garden with exotic accents, also choose a fig tree or a broussonetia papyrifera which both have very graphic and original leaves, or even a palm tree, an olive tree, a Japanese banana tree, tree ferns ... and why not a ginkgo biloba if you want a bright yellow ray of sun alternating with green, in the fall! Indispensable too, the aralia also makes a very nice effect in a courtyard or patio designed like a foliage garden, in association with laurel, boxwood and a maple. Finally, let's not forget the hydrangeas: even if they are generally chosen for their colorful flower balls, some hydrangeas bloom more discreetly, to give the leaves all the attention it deserves.
We do not forget the perennials 'green'!
The second level of 'greens' concerns perennials. They can be planted at the foot of these trees and shrubs, along a wall or in a dedicated massif: in the book 'Les jardins à vivre de Pierre-Alexandre Risser', we recommend "molinies, panicums and large miscanthus, which provide a rural summer decor in fresh green ". May be associated with them hostas and ferns, both recognized for their decorative foliage with a thousand shades of green, bringing both density and lightness to the garden. Also ivy, lamier, variegated persicaria ... and on a wall to be camouflaged, with a green trellis, palisade an invasive virgin vine, a star jasmine or a honeysuckle. After a few years, you will have a completely green wall almost permanently!
Grasses for a rural spirit
Among the perennials, grasses are particularly interesting in a 'green' version of the 'wild grass' garden. "The evergreen grasses stay green in all seasons and bring green to the garden all year round, only the ears take on a blond hue", explains Pierre-Alexandre Risser. While the smaller ones structure the garden, "the larger ones can serve as a plant separation in the manner of a hedge (…). Then plant them in a line, tight enough against each other so that the leaves meet" . We then select miscanthus, pampas grass, stipas (which turn yellow at the end of summer), canes from Provence, as well as the magnificent hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' or Japanese grass with a magnificent green clear. To obtain a lively and dynamic green table, play on the contrasts of different greens, from the darkest to the brightest.
Two association ideas for a 100% green garden
… Which play on the shades of green and on the forms of the leaves: - Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' + grasses + hosta 'Piedmont Gold' + hydrangea arborescens 'Hills of Snow' + polygonatum roseum + deinanthe caerulea + cornus alba 'Aurea', - Aralia + laurel + boxwood + maple + fern + orange tree from Mexico.
Bonus: don't forget topiary, succulents and aquatic plants!
The boxwood and yew have dense, evergreen foliage that can be pruned geometrically, according to your inspiration. They will be able to form hedges more or less low or high, as well as structures full of fantasy in the garden, and thus animate the whole unicolor. Boxwood can be erected on stems, in the ground or in pots. Succulents, too, have their place in a green garden, especially if it is sunny, while most well green gardens are rather generally shaded. We will choose cacti and sedum rugs, like the reflexum 'Angelina' for example. Also in a large pot if you do not have a pond, choose aquatic plants such as horsetail, water fern, pontédérie (which will bloom purple…), sagittaria latifolia, lotus.
And in the vegetable patch?
It is quite possible to include a vegetable patch in a green garden. Pierre-Alexandre Risser explains in 'A beautiful garden through the seasons': "Even in tubs, the silver and cut leaves of the artichoke is very spectacular; to marry with lower leaves like basil for example". And also beans (rowing or Spanish), peas, carrots of which we will only see the green tops with fine cuts sticking out from the surface of the earth. Without forgetting the vine, various squashes, as well as climbing flowers such as nasturtiums with large round leaves, rumex sanguineus or blood sorrel among the herbs…
We create a green garden atmosphere indoors
At home too, you can create a winter garden or a garden of ultra-green indoor plants: philodendron, yucca, schefflera, aralia, zamioculcas, radermachera, sansevière, crassula, palm trees, pachira, monstera, cyperus, asparagus, ficus and ferns will be in the spotlight. Depending on your choice and the combinations of greens, your garden will be rustic or designer, but rich in chlorophyll. Finally, to decorate it, you can bring bright red elements (chair, pots ...), which will create another contrast on this table of greens. Learn more: 'The ground covers', David S. MacKenzie, Editions du Rouerge, € 34. 'A beautiful garden through the seasons', Pierre-Alexandre Risser, Rosenn Lepage and Alexandre Petzold, Solar editions, € 10.50. 'The living gardens of Pierre-Alexandre Risser', Ulmer editions, € 32.50. 'The little Encyclo Rustica of indoor plants', Rustica editions, € 14.95.