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Winter Delights in the Garden: Foliage and Bark

Articles: Winter Delights in the Garden: Foliage and Bark

Cast-iron plants (Aspidistra elatior ‘Milky Way’ with spots, and A. yunnanensis with center stripe). Author’s photographs, except as noted

With fewer flowers in the garden during the wintertime, attention is more readily drawn to bark and foliage, and plants with variegated foliage can provide a great deal of prolonged interest. The author returns with more suggestions for the winter garden.

The appropriately named cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) is a quiet, subtle foliage plant. Extremely tough and accommodating, it will tolerate strong sunlight (with ample watering) or the deepest shade. Bait for snails and slugs to keep the leaves from being eaten, but they are otherwise relatively pest free and durable subjects (even as house plants). Partial to full shade will enhance the deep green foliage color. The variegated forms are spectacular. ‘Variegata’ will vary from highly striped to almost no stripes, so be sure to select a good form. Bright white stripes alternate in varying patterns on the green leaf and run lengthwise from base to tip. ‘Asahi’ has leaves wondrously tipped in white. There is a rare...

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