Flowerless Color

In this front section of a border in the tropical potager, I've tried getting color accents with a few different kinds of flowering plants: Portulacas, Marigolds and Zinnias but with little success. My lassez faire gardening style just isn't up to their watering or feeding needs apparently and I continue to lose them time and time again. So, in its current permutation I'm trying a flower free color palette.

What has been a constant is the base combination of a lacy, mainly yellow (with green and pink) Coleus mixed with a pink and bronze Alternanthera ficoidea. They have woven together into a warm colored carpet of sorts and have indicated that they are content to be here.

I bought both the Aglaonema and the pink edge Cordyline from the plant section in the supermarket, not usually the most inspiring of places but both had this interesting color combination of pinks and greens. They both ended up filling in some spaces in other parts of the garden until I had this idea that they should instead play more leading roles here. The effect is more subtle than flowers but there's an interesting enough play on the colors being from a similar palette and a contrast of foliage forms.

The Cordyline in particular is a plant I need to look a little deeper into. Its reliability as a native of this region is a prime asset but the range of colors and leaf forms are yet another. The drawback is that there is not a lot of choice at the nurseries and supermarkets so I'll have to look a little further afield.

The Aglaonema, I'll confess says office plant to me - you see them everywhere in corporate lobbies and I presume for similar reasons, easy maintenance and they offer some color variations.  Lets see if they do well enough here to get me a little more excited about them.

Right at the middle bottom of the picture is Rivina humilis, which has only just started to provide the true reason its chosen to be there - its red berries. Currently its delicate foliage and floppy habit with small white flowers provides some delicate contrast but I wait for it to get a little more established and for it berries to provide some sharp color here.

On the right Persicaria capitata has been somewhat of a thug, in fact it owned  pretty much all of this space at one time before I started hacking away at it to make room for other plants. It does however have some redeeming features: interesting marking on the leaves, the stem color has a reddish tone but best of all, when it gets a little stressed or aged it takes on burnt autumnal hues -which is when I like to cut it back, using the foliage indoors in a vase.

It does however need regular controlling as it imposes itself well beyond the space its been alloted. It has some medicinal qualities and is edible so I do occasionally add a few leaves into a salad - it has a sharp sour taste and is a little fibrous so needs slicing up.

One last color element - green moss. For some reason the brick here is thick with moss which adds yet another color value between the yellows and greens that really works. And when it all really 'works' is in the morning when the sun is behind, backlighting this section.


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