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Winter Interest in my garden - part 2 - Variegated leaves.


I’m glad that nobody dozed off during part 1, so I’m hoping that you’ll stay awake and enjoy part 2!

Coloured leaves are wonderful to ‘lift’ the spirits in the garden in the chilly and damp days of winter.

What about variegated-leaved plants and shrubs, though? Is there a place for them, too, amongst the other plants in my garden?

Well yes, because they come in all shapes and sizes, from large shrubs, to small plants; bright, muted, gold, silver, pink, cream, yellow and of course green. They can be specimens on their own – or planted alongside others to make a ‘picture’ within a bed or border. Texture and form? Yes, that’s there too.


Aucuba japonica ‘Picturata’

This shrub always gives the impression that it’s in the sun, even on the dullest day. I have to clip it to keep it in shape, and to stop it getting unmanageable, but it’s not a problem.

Aucuba japonica leaves

This particular one has a lot of yellow in the leaves – other Aucubas may not be as bright! They also have tiny purple flowers in the summer – but they’re hard to spot. Aucubas are often found in gardens on busy roads, as they are such a good-natured species that they can cope with air pollution. At least I haven’t got that here to test mine! I have small geraniums planted under the ‘skirts’.


Here’s a beautiful variegated Heucherella – one of my favourites. These plants enjoy some shade, so it’s lovely to see the colour of the leaves tucked away under a shrub or in a dull area.

x Heucherella ‘Alabama Sunrise’

Yes, the yellow flowers of the Chrysogonum virginianum are still there as well – for a short while, anyway. This was a new plant to me – I found it when I was getting rid of all that Comfrey, and wanted some new shade plants! It has been in flower since then, and I was told that it flowers for nine months of the year. What a find to plant each side of the Heucherella!


How bright can bright get? As bright as the leaves on the new Euonymus japonicus I planted in a space where I removed a few thuggish Japanese Anemones. Wonderful – more sunshine for dark wintry days. It will glow amongst the bright flowers of the ‘hot’ border in the summer.

Euonymus japonicus ’Maiden’s Gold’


Variegated leaves are not all brightly coloured, though. They can be subtly marked, and be just as beautiful, but in a different way. Their planting companions will help them to create a cameo in a border which will last right through the year, but give me a lot of colour and pleasure during the winter in particular.

Heuchera ‘Strawberry Candy’

This Heuchera may be green – but its leaf markings make it special now – alongside a very pretty Lophomyrtus ‘Little Star’. Then, in the summer, the Heuchera’s bright pink flowers will ‘pick up’ the pink in the leaves of its companion.

Lophomyrtus ‘Little Star’


I’m always revamping beds and borders in my garden, as I know many of you do, too. There are times when a shrub gets too old to prune or keep any longer – this was the case with a Hebe at the back of the corner bed. However, that made a revamp possible, and I found a beautiful replacement. No, it doesn’t flower, true, but it glows gold and green all year round instead! I was able to tuck a new Hebe in as well – one grown from a cutting. I hope that this Griselinia will grow and spread to make a glorious ‘backcloth’ to this bed.

Griselinia littoralis ‘Bantry Bay’


I have several Euonymus shrubs in my garden. They are such useful and accommodating plants. They’ll grow in shady or sunny positions, and will take hard pruning to keep them to the shape and size required for that particular situation.

Euonymus fortunei ‘Silver Queen’

There are two ‘Silver Queen’ shrubs kept clipped in the top border. This gives a bit of structure all year round.

Euonymus japonicus ‘Variegata’

This very similar shrub differs from the ‘Queens’ in the size and shape of its leaves, and its upright growing habit. It is to be found in a narrow shrub border alongside a path. I have two blue Clematis growing through the shrubs in the summer.


The Lophomyrtus could appear again here – but instead, here’s my Hebe ‘Heartbreaker’. This little Hebe, which doesn’t often produce flowers, starts off with pale cream and green leaves. There’s only a hint of pink during the rest of the year, but it gets pinker and pinker as the temperatures drop! It has red violas to keep it company.

Hebe ‘Heartbreaker’ in mid November

Again, on December 5th

I have another new shrub in my garden – a Pittosporum. I’ve got an all-green one, a dark leaved one – and now a variegated version! It won’t grow as large as the others, and I’m hoping that it proves to be as hardy here as they are. It has pink, cream and green leaves and black stems. I loved it at first sight!

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Magic’

This is planted near the main paved path to the front door, to give a little extra colour as I walk in or out. During the summer, this area comes alive with pink and mauve flowers, as the main colours.


Very seasonal – Holly and Ivy!

Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Lawsoniana’

I inherited three variegated Holly shrubs – well, they’re more like trees, really. They are all different, but this one is my favourite. It has no prickles, but does have berries – that is, it does for a very short while – until the birds get there! I never have holly with berries on it to decorate the house at Christmas time. I don’t begrudge the birds, though.

Hedera helix ‘Adam’

To finish with, here’s a lovely shaped set of leaves – close-up to see them better. Ivies can be useful – and especially beautiful are the variegated forms. This one is planted to climb up a stone wall, to soften it, and to create a ‘background’ against which my Hamamelis can glow in a few weeks’ time.

You may well get to see the two I have in another episode!

I must stop – I could show you more – but I’ve gone on too long already. I hope you saw a few shrubs and plants to enjoy, as well as an insight into how I use them in my garden?

More blog posts by spritzhenry

Previous post: Winter Interest in my garden - part 1 - Coloured leaves.

Next post: 'Going Potty!'



Texture, colour, pattern, structure and form.....All the essential elements are here!
Thanks Spritz for sharing this blog.

8 Dec, 2009


as always Sprtiz a great blog and lovely plants, you know how i love the Heuchera, and i must say i do love the Lophomyrtus, stunning colouring... my H. 'heartbreaker' is not doing so well at the moment, i don't think they are as hardy as some other varieties. and another of my favorites is Euonymus.. i bought a lovely low growing one last year called E. 'Harliquin' stunning if you don't already have it,- i know you will love it.... a lovely collection you have.. :-)

8 Dec, 2009


nice blog again barbara, my favourite is hebe heartbreaker frindged with pink, so pretty, but love the varigated leaves on the others to, especially the lighter ones, you have so many lovely plants :o))

8 Dec, 2009


Your Little Star...the Silver Queen and the Silver Magic all caught my eye..the Hebe Heartbreaker is just precious too...thanks Barbara... :)

9 Dec, 2009


Lovely blog Barbara.....and its going straight into GoYpedia. Thank you...these are lovely plants to look at over the winter :)

9 Dec, 2009


You're welcome, and thank you all. xx

9 Dec, 2009


Lovely blog Spritz, Are you sure I can't come and live in your potting shed?

9 Dec, 2009


I'm proud to say I have most of these plants Spritz, I'm a sucker for anything variegated. I didnt see any variegated vinca in there - you must have some :-)

9 Dec, 2009


Lovely blog Spritz,
I too am very fond of the plants and vegetation as well as the flowers.

I will certainly be looking for a few of the ones which I havent got.

9 Dec, 2009


you have so many lovely plants in your garden...... i love the leaves of the hebe Heartbraker...........

9 Dec, 2009


Thanks again for another interesting blog and photos

9 Dec, 2009


Yes, Dawn - I have - but I couldn't have posted every variegated plant I have!

You're welcome. all! Glad you enjoyed it. :-)))

9 Dec, 2009


Thought you must have one Spritz :-) Lovely blog and great plants.

9 Dec, 2009


One? They 'walk' everywhere, Dawn! They are almost weeds, to be honest. :-((( Luckily, I like them. Pleased you liked it, even if you could say 'SNAP!'

9 Dec, 2009


Really interesting Spritzhenry as well as liking the hebe the Pittosporum looked lovely.

9 Dec, 2009


yet again a lovely blog with lovely photos too. No wonder; you have a beautiful garden and so glad you share it with us.
didnt get to see it last night as I ended up preparing for work the following day. night off tonight :o)

9 Dec, 2009


Another smashing blog - wonderful variety of plants for different situations. I don't have enough variegated plants - yet!

9 Dec, 2009


Well done, Sbg - you deserve one!

Wagger - maybe you could ask for a voucher for Christmas too? Write it in rhyme....haha.

9 Dec, 2009


Ooh, nice!! :~))

10 Dec, 2009


What is, Marie? LOL.

10 Dec, 2009


I'll just take him with me and leave my purse at home, lol.

10 Dec, 2009


Good thinking! :-)

10 Dec, 2009


The blog, of course!! Lol!

11 Dec, 2009


Thanks, Marie!!!!!! :-D

11 Dec, 2009


You're welcome! :~))

11 Dec, 2009


Hi Spritz, your plants a look a treat, especially the Acuba. :o)

Sandra x

12 Dec, 2009


Thanks, Sandra - glad you found your way here! :-))

12 Dec, 2009

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