Now to call them freaks is perhaps overstating the case just a little. But plants which are spotty, motley, stripy and variegated please me. I know some gardeners (even some in my own family, I am ashamed to admit) detest them and won’t give them space in their gardens. They feel that they are unnatural and unattractive, but to me they are all the more interesting because of their unusual shadings and markings. I hadn’t thought about this until realising that in one patch of the garden at Shoestring Cottage they are all placed together in their own retreat from more mainstream plants.
This wasn’t a plan, it just so happened that these plants suited similar conditions and there weren’t any other empty spaces to put them at the time. So now we have the variegated dark purple/green leaved tradescantia, a couple of hostas, a lovely calla lily (thank you my dear friend Debi for that) and an unidentified purple/green spotty leaved plant which was growing as an indoor plant but seems to survive outside also. All we need now are some variegated oxalis to complete the picture! Long may they thrive and prosper.
Once I got started with the variegateds there was no stopping me - I seemed to be drawn to them wherever I went. This weekend without realising what I was doing I went and bought several more. Really I will have to try to keep things under control or the whole garden will look as if somebody had thrown a lot of paint over the plants.
And here are some more colourful specimens – coleus. They were bought four to a punnet for less than $2 (true to the Shoestring Cottage principle) and add a spark of colour to the white iron table outdoors where we eat meals. The beauty of coleus is that you can pinch out a growing tip and put it in water and within a few days have another plant. So when they get scruffy and past their best at the end of summer take cuttings and pot them up, nurse them along in a warm bright place over winter and you will have a selection of them for planting outdoors in the spring.
What do you think, are you firmly in the variegated camp or do you prefer your leaves green as nature no doubt intended?