Most shrubs are grown for their flowers, but there is a huge range of shrubs which have the right to be grown simply because of their colourful leaves and other foliage characteristics.
One of the advantages of going for foliage interest on shrubs is that it generally lasts longer than shrub flowers. In the case of colourful evergreen leaves you mostly get 12 months of colour and interest from the foliage. Most shrub flowers have a set season; often shorts and sometimes spoiled by inclement weather conditions.
Virtually all evergreen or deciduous foliage shrubs also flower as well. Some have magnificent floral displays for a short period; others that have an acceptable display for several months. Foliage interest is generally there for the duration of the leaf.
The message is, when choosing a shrub, be aware of the added advantage of foliage effect long before and after flowering has finished. In the lists below, the emphasis is on the foliage - not only for the leaf colour, but also for the architectural interest of different leaf form, shapes and sizes.
Both evergreen and deciduous shrubs have much to offer by way of foliage colour - and not just for the autumn display. With careful choice you could have colour all the year round! Many shrubs have ornate leaves other than the colour aspect and often give an added advantage to the garden display.
Some shrubs are simply grown for their foliage effect having no or little flower interest. The deciduous Japanese Maples fall into that group and are legendary for their foliage display throughout the growing season and peaking at leaf fall with vivid autumnal displays. Evergreen shrubs such as the Elaeagnus are grown exclusively for their assorted foliage colours ignoring the fact that their well hidden flowers exude a gorgeous scent.
If you feel motivated and why not then the lists below and the following pages may give you new ideas, hopefully pointing you in the right direction.
Pittosporum tunuifolium 'Tom Thumb; : Berberis x ottawensis 'Superba' : Salvia officinalis 'Atropurpurea'
Within the shrubs cited as having purple ot bronze foliage, ther is a range of hues including mauve and deep red. None - for my mind - are genuine purple - but are generally classed as such - even in their botanical names.
Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Dark Delight'
Cordyline if hardy in your area
Hebe Pascal H Waikiki H. 'Black Knight' H. Heartbreaker
Salvia officinalis Purpurascens just makes it to this list as a sub-shrub. Mauve purple
Berberis thunbergii Atropurpura; Rosy Glow; x ottawensis 'Superba
Acer palmatum Atropurpureum A. Dissectum Atropurpureum A. Bloodgood many other acers.
Prunus cerasifera Pissardii Nigra
Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate'
Sambucus nigra Black Beauty
Physocarpus opulifolius 'Diabolo' P. o. Midnight
Weigella florida Foliis Purpurea
Fagus sylvatica Purpurea as a controlled hedge
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