In The Garden Now ….Winter Beauties

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Fatsia japonica ‘Camouflage’

Text and photos by Victoria Gilleland

At the end of each winter I walk through my garden looking for the newer plant additions that held up best in spite of harsh growing conditions the previous three months. With our prolonged cold spells and heavy rainfall this year, I was particularly interested this year.

Typically newly installed garden plants are the most vulnerable to extreme winter weather and I’ve noticed that hybridized varieties with variegated foliage are often severely damaged or killed in harsh winters. But of course, in the end hardiness depends on the particular plant and specific weather conditions in a given year.

 I’m happy to report that two of the best looking plants in my garden right now are newly planted variegated Fatsia plants. They were planted last summer in shady, somewhat sheltered areas of the garden in hopes that they would brighten otherwise boringly green areas. They’re doing beautifully! The foliage is bright and clean in spite of repeatedly being hit by freezing temperatures, snow, hail, rain and wind. I’m impressed!

Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’

Like other Japanese Aralia, ‘Spider’s Web’ and ‘Camouflage’ Fatsia can be grown as an evergreen shrub or small tree. The variegated foliage on these plants is stunning in the shade. It truly brightens the garden! Fatsia Flowers are typically produced in winter and are rather unusual white fuzzy looking globes held above the foliage.

Plants may grow to be 6 to 8 feet high and wide or can be kept smaller with regular pruning. They like full shade to partial sun and ample water to start but are quite drought tolerant in our area once established. Fatsia make good container plants and can be grown indoors as well.

Call me “The Eccentric Gardener” but I’ve always enjoyed growing plants that have animal associations. When I first heard about ’Spider’s Web,’ I knew that it was just a matter of time before I tried growing one in my garden. It’s been a wonderful addition! An added bonus is that this plant came with its own special song: “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” You guessed it! Whenever I see one of these lovelies in my garden or elsewhere the ‘Spider Song’ pops into my head. At least I won’t forget the name of this plant!

I would recommend ‘Spider’s Web’ or’ Camouflage’ Fatsia as dramatic additions to most any part shade to shady garden in need of a light bright accent. If you don’t have an outdoors garden try growing one of these showy plants indoors in a pot. They are striking!

 (Botanical Names:  Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’ and Fatsia japonica ‘Camouflage’)

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 20 years.


Anonymous,  March 15, 2017 at 1:19 PM  

Do the blossoms attract hummingbirds?

Victoria Gilleland March 18, 2017 at 9:57 PM  

Hummingbird are attracted to the flowers of Japanese Aralia. Add one of these showy shrubs to your garden and you'll probably have more Hummer visitors!

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