Plant a rainbow!

Colourful foliage will add evergreen or seasonal interest to your garden. Here’s my top 10

1 Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’

Versatile evergreen perennial that grows into small black spidery clumps, like a grass. Happy in sun or part shade, it can add a dramatic edging to paths, and works as an excellent contrast partner for grasses, ferns and silver foliage plants. Small spikes of pale mauve flowers emerge June-August, followed by blue fruits. Plant in a moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil. H20cm (8in) S30cm (12in)

2 Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’

Steely blue fescue that prefers full sun and well-drained soil, making it perfect for a sunny gravel garden, Mediterranean planting schemes, pots and rockeries. Blue-green flower spikes emerge June to July, ageing to blonde. H30cm (12in) S20cm (8in)

3 Berberis ‘Orange Sunrise’

Thorny deciduous shrub producing bright salmon-red leaves in spring and small yellow flowers in April. As foliage matures it darkens and develops a fine yellow margin – especially pronounced in full sun. Its upright columnar shape makes it perfect for a structural statement or hedging. Best in sun and moist, well-drained soil. H1.5m (5ft) S50cm (19in)

4 Heuchera ‘Green Spice’

Evergreen heucheras are perhaps the best perennials for foliage colour – their attractive scalloped leaves come in almost every hue, alongside dainty, long-lasting flower sprays, June-August. ‘Green Spice’ is such a stunner, with silvery marbled leaves that have burgundy veins. Plants have a light spray of pink flowers in summer. Sun or part shade in well-drained soil. H and S30cm (12in)

5 Athyrium niponicum metallicum

Delicate, frosted-looking Japanese painted fern with purple stems and midribs. Colours vary from pink and purple to silver, grey and green. Excellent in shady borders in fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil, or in containers. H50cm (19in) S1.5m (5ft)

6 Hebe ‘Heartbreaker’

Blushing evergreen shrub with slender, cream-edged, green leaves that flush pink in cool temperatures. Lavender summer flowers emerge June to September. Its compact, rounded habit makes it ideal for patio containers, or at the front of a border in sun or part shade and moist, well-drained fertile soil. Would make attractive punctuation plant that needs minimal pruning. May need frost protection in colder winters. H and S60cm (24in)

7 Nandina ‘Lemon and Lime’

Aptly named nandina whose pointy spring foliage emerges bright lemon yellow then turns a gentler lime-green colour as they mature. In a sunny spot these charming, small evergreen shrubs will remain quite bright, reverting to a cooler hue in part shade. Expect small white flowers in July. H and S60cm (24in)

8 Cotinus ‘Royal Purple’

Magnificent deciduous shrub producing rich purple foliage that turns vivid red in autumn. The delicate flowers, produced July-August, look like a haze of pink smoke, earning this shrub its common name of ‘smoke bush’. Prune hard in March and mulch well for best foliage display. Grow in full sun and fertile, moist, well-drained soil. H and S5m (16ft)

9. Acer ‘Orange Dream’

Japanese maples are excellent trees for foliage colour, and this bushy specimen is a seasonal dazzler. In spring the leaves emerge orange-green alongside masses of red blossom April to May. In summer the leaves become more green, then turn orange-yellow in autumn before leaf fall. Like most acers, plant in a shady sheltered spot in moist, well-drained neutral to acidic soil. Slow growing. H and S3m (10ft)

10. Phormium ‘Pink Stripe’

Good-looking architectural plant with lovely grey-green leaves edged with a pink stripe.
These fountain-like plants are perfect for adding structure, form and colour to the garden throughout the year. Grow in full sun for best colour, and moist, well-drained soil. Upright flower spikes occasionally appear in July. H2m (6ft 6in) S1.5m (5ft)