Foliage with wow power at Allen Centennial Gardens


During our visit to Madison, Wisconsin, last weekend, I noticed that big, bold tropical plants were used everywhere to great effect far from their natural climate. For this month’s Foliage Follow-Up, I’ll show you what caught my eye at Allen Centennial Gardens on the University of Wisconsin campus.


This intimate yet diversely planted horticultural teaching garden employs scene-stealing tropicals at the entry, like this bronze canna.


Or how about these planters filled with palms, Colocasia, purple fountain grass, and more. This is a feast of color and texture, and it’s all about leaves.


In the French garden, an arborvitae hedge provides a wall of dark green, against which formal statuary stands out. Edibles in the foreground have an iced look as their rumpled leaves catch the evening light.


Leaves with contrasting textures create interest even when the only color is green.


Gratuitous statuary shot


These leaves look buttery with fall color in the slanting light of late afternoon.


A summerhouse is flanked by annual color, but it’s the wall of green behind it that shows it off to advantage. Do you aspire to green “walls” in your garden? I do.


An arbor decorated with stylized leaves seems the perfect concluding image for my Foliage Follow-Up post. Thanks, Linda of Each Little World, for introducing me to this garden.

I hope you’ll join me today or tomorrow for Foliage Follow-Up, a celebration of leaves, bark, seedheads, etc.—plant characteristics often overlooked in favor of flowers. Share your favorite foliage for September, and then leave a link here in the comments so I can find your post.

All material © 2006-2010 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

20 Responses

  1. leavesnbloom says:

    Pam there are so many wonderful colours of green with an array shapes and textures in your pictures. I especially like that third photo – that’s sheer drama in that little planting area.

    My submission this month is called “Flowers need not apply”
    http://leavesnbloom.blogspot.com/2010/09/foliage-leaves-autumn-colours-no.html

    Have a great day :)

    Fantastic post, leavesnbloom. I tried to leave a comment but couldn’t without a Google acct. Here’s what I wanted to say: Such a pretty selection! I like the way you color-matched your Fuchsia flowers with the phormium, and the coloring of ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud and ‘Tiger Eyes’ sumac is lovely. But my faves are the Heucheras. —Pam

  2. Paul says:

    Gratuitous statuary. Well it is a French Garden!

    I wish I could afford pots like that, but then again I’d have nowhere spacious enough to put them. Love the blog by the way.
    Digging is without doubt my favourite gardening blog. (Yes there is a “u” in my spelling of favourite. I notice spell checker doesn’t like Australian spelling)

    Hi, Paul, and thanks. I’m glad you enjoy Digging. To clarify about the statuary, the only thing gratuitous about it was my including it in my foliage post, not the statue. It was absolutely perfect. :-) —Pam

  3. I am still struck by what a wonderful spot that woman had picked for studying — and barely a soul around to disturb her. Though it was probably pretty noisy during the game; the stadium sounds travel a long way! Redbud foliage report on our blog. http://eachlittleworld.typepad.com/each_little_world/2010/09/foliage-follow-up-09162010.html

  4. Diana says:

    What a lovely garden you’ve shared with us. I really like the view through the two conifers and statues.

  5. Lotusleaf says:

    It is a beautiful garden . Amazing shapes and textures of the foliage. Thanks for sharing. http://lotusleaf-gardentropics.blogspot.com/2010/09/foliage-plants.html

  6. David says:

    Hi Pam,
    I wrote a nice comment, but is got trapped in cyberspace. Ugh! Anyway, I love the photos and tour.
    I’m posting my foliage followup at Tropical Texana today. http://tropicaltexana.blogspot.com/2010/09/september-foliage-follow-up.html

    Happy Growing! David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston Texas

  7. Donna says:

    Really pretty textural quality in the photo with the fountain grass and palms. A good play of light vs. dark in that composition too.

  8. Jenny says:

    Those are some fine ideas for pots and they might just work down in Texas. I certainly need some help in that area. Anyway so as not to forget our fine foliage I have posted on mine here. http://wwwrockrose.blogspot.com/2010/09/foliage-follow-up-september-2010.html
    Thanks for hosting.

  9. I’m with Linda, how wonderful to be able to study in that arbour.

    My post today is mostly flowers, but my favourite is the amazing seed-heads on the little yellow daisy.
    http://elephantseyegarden.blogspot.com/2010/09/have-you-seen-this-iris.html

  10. It looks like I need to add Madison to my wish list for future garden visits, Pam – what a lovely place. And is that our favorite little ‘Diamond Frost’ Euphorbia adding its frothy beauty up North as it does in Texas?

    I joined in with a post for today – http://annieinaustin.blogspot.com/2010/09/foliage-followup-for-september-2010.html – really needed a nap but that’s so temporary… a new post is more permanent ;-]

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  11. Haven’t had time to do a Foliage Followup for a while, Pam, but I have slid in a sort-of one combined with Skywatch Friday and Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day. A little too much work to do, a little too little time to spare. http://bloomingwriter.blogspot.com/2010/09/skywatch-friday-meets-belated-bloomday.html

  12. Lori says:

    Wow, now I really wish I’d gotten my butt in gear and posted my pics of this place from when I visited last September! I lived right up the hill for five years while I was at UW and in retrospect, I kick myself so hard because I have no idea why switching my major to horticulture didn’t occur to me considering the amount of time I spent in this garden! The old horticulture buildings & greenhouses were right across the street until they ripped them out sometime after I graduated and built a bunch of expensive biotech facilities.

    I love how every year they replant the borders outside the fence and in the entrance on a new theme. Last year was ornamental edibles. Looks like they’re experimenting with tropicals again. Thanks for triggering a HUGE wave of nostalgia for me with this entry, Pam!

    I forgot you lived in Madison! I would have loved to see your photos of the garden. It’s such a beautiful garden—and city. —Pam

  13. Beautiful foliage! I love purple leaves to give an accent to pink flowers.

  14. Layanee says:

    I just love foliage. Beautiful photos, Pam. You are getting around aren’t you!

  15. Weeder says:

    Simply stunnning!Thanks for sharing.

  16. Beautiful. I’m injured my hand so I can’t type much, but I did manage a post. http://mcgregorsdaughter.blogspot.com/2010/09/fall-foliage-friday.html

  17. You are opening more eyes to the joys of foliage every month, it seems. Great idea, and thanks for throwing it open to all of us. http://bannersbyricki.com/archives/1144

  18. Beautiful shots of the containers. I love foliage – particularly ones with differing textures and colors. Love the bronze canna and purple elephant ears above. Lovely!

  19. […] potager, Allen Centennial Gardens, Madison, […]

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