I love using variegated foliage to lighten up shady areas or to create interest without depending always on blooms. This is a really nice combination: Coprosma ‘Marbel Queen’, Heleborus and Aeoneum ‘Sunburst’. The Helebore blooms are interesting and last forever; the Aeonium always looks good; and the shiny leaves of the Coprosma are the perfect foil for the chartreuse and yellow of both plants. To create some rest for the eye in this planting I used Pittosporum crassifolium ‘compactum’ which isn’t variegated but gives us lovely fresh green leaves in early spring.
Other tried and true variegated plants I always return to are:
- Carex elegantissima ‘variegata’ – it has a tiny stripe of yellow on the strap leaf margin.
- Lonicera nitida ‘Lemon Beauty’ – a smaller evergreen shrub with tidy little variegated leaves of lemon and green.
- Carex trifada ‘Rekohu Sunrise’ – this was a recent discovery, a thicker leaved carex, happy in shade with a lovely yellow stripe on leaf margin. Gives a good tropical look.
- Plectranthus area- for a shady area, tender to fronts but gorgeous fuzzy leaves make it worth the trouble.
- Ajania pacifica – Pretty scalloped leaves with a white outline, great in a pot.
- Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’- looks like a Phormium but can tolerate more shade and produces interesting blue berry-like blooms.
- Pelargonium crispum ‘Variegatum’ – one of the more controllable in size, has a nice vertical growth habit and can be made into an adorable tree like form for a pot.
- Westringia fruticosa ‘Smokey’ – White edges on this tough shrub make it even more sparkly and good looking.