When planting for color, always consider foliage first. Plants that have purple, yellow, or variegated leaves are vibrant in the landscape before and after blooming. By combining a range of foliage colors and texture, you create a landscape that is exciting even without flowers.
Plants with colorful leaves are crucial for a beautiful, all-seasons landscape. Additionally, foliage color often evolves over the seasons so that garden compositions can change from spring to fall. “Magic Carpet” Spirea, for example, is a low to the ground, easy-maintenance, sun-loving shrub that changes leaf color from April through October.
In the spring, “Magic Carpet’s” new growth is coral and gold, but the leaves turn lime-yellow in the summer and golden peach in the fall. All of this color comes from the foliage, so it’s an added bonus that this shrub is also covered with pretty pink flowers in June.
There are several new selections of the native ninebark (Physocarpus) that have beautiful, colorful leaves. “Summer Wine” is covered with dark, purple foliage that provides the perfect background to pinkish-white flowers in June. “Dart’s Gold” is a brilliant yellow in spring, flowers white in June, and has lime-colored foliage the rest of the season. Another variety called “Coppertina” is rusty red as its name suggests. These three ninebarks grow to about five feet tall and wide, while other varieties such as “Diablo” and “Center Glow” mature even taller and wider.