Perhaps the balance of too many variegated plants has been tipped beyond the point of distraction, but I suspect that jarring foliage contrasts are the least of problems a design purist would diagnose in this garden. In any case, my eye is easily pleased, regardless that cardinal rules of landscape design might be trampled into dust.
More recent introductions of variegated redbuds such as ‘Alley Cat’ are possible improvements of ‘Silver Cloud’ (above). Arguably, there is no reason to improve upon the basic redbud, but some folks must tinker with perfection.
I expect that, with the exception of hostas, few gardeners share my overzealous enthusiasm for variegated foliage. Perhaps there is a simple explanation, that the simple minded gardener is attracted to any plant with huge or variegated foliage, while the more sophisticated eye is drawn to more subtle contrasts. Guilty, I am.
There is no more elaborate explanation to the design of this garden then plant what I like, and try to make the best of it. If there is no better place for the variegated Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas ‘Variegata’, above) than immediately beside a variegated yellowtwig dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Silver and Gold’), so be it, though this is done with at least some measure of reluctance. But, no apologies.
Growth of the variegated English holly is slowed by heat and humidity in this Virginia garden. A pollinated female with red berries would be preferred, but the foliage alone is reason enough to plant this fine evergreen.
A young Silver Edge rhododendron flowers sparsely, with hopes that one day purple flowers will cover the variegated leaves for a few weeks in late spring.
Of two variegated Chinese dogwoods, ‘Samaritan’ grows more vigorously and upright than the wide spreading ‘Wolf Eyes’.
The variegated ‘Duet’ beautyberry would be more splendid if the white fruits were the more typical purple.
Flowers of ‘Carol Mackie’ daphne are delightfully fragrant, but its variegated foliage also attracts attention.
In this unusual year (isn’t every year unusual?), the variegated foliage of ‘Cherokee Sunset’ dogwood is unblemished by powdery mildew, a puzzle after an abnormally rainy May.
The variegated pieris ‘Little Heath’ is a compact grower and less susceptible to lacebugs that plague other pieris varieties.