When planning a garden, some people focus on flowering plants and bushes. Many plants, however, have beautiful leaves, and can help add texture and variety to your garden. Sage, an herb that you can also use in your kitchen, has visually interesting foliage. Create visual textures in your garden by interspersing foliage plants with flowers.
Sage is a foliage plant that is also often used as a spice. Its leaves are oval and have a furry, leathery surface. Purple sage is a variety of sage that grows up to 18 inches tall and is cold hardy down to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zone 4. The various types of sages are sometimes called the "barometer bush" because of their tenancy to flower when soil moisture is high or after heavy rain. This plant is drought-resistant and is very tolerant of rocky or poor soils, but requires soils that drain well, and full sun.
Angelica leaves are divided into three parts. Each division is further divided into small leaflets. Leaves on an angelica plant are larger at the bottom, often 2 feet wide, and narrower further up the plant. Grow angelica for foliage in the shade. It can grow to nearly 5 feet tall, so should be planted at the back of garden beds. It is not particular about soil type and will grow in most shaded locations that offer enough space for vertical growth. Angelica should be spaced 2 to 3 feet apart.
Aralia is a foliage plant native to Japan. Its long, spear-like leaves grow in clusters of five. This plant is recommended by the University of Illinois for USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 8. Able to grow as tall as 8 to 10 feet tall, it has deep green foliage throughout the growing season. Tolerant of dry areas and wind-resistant, Aralia will grow in most soils that drain well. Each leaf cluster on this plant has thorns at its base.
Hostas are shades tolerant herbaceous plants that are cold-hardy down to USDA Hardiness Zones 3 or 4. Depending on the cultivar, the foliage can vary greatly in size, shape and color. They can be solid-colored or variegated with stripes of blue, green, white or gold. Hostas are native to Japan, Korea, and China, but were introduced to Europe in the 1700s and the United States in the 1800s. Grow hostas in soil that is rich in organic matter and drains well. Although shade-tolerant, some varieties of hosta will change leaf color in different light conditions, and may do very well in full sun.