Academy of Flowers

Garden Foliage and Shrubs

There is an amazing wealth of foliage varieties to choose from when selecting suitable greenery for your designs.

Try to imagine using them in your arrangements and consider texture, colour, architecture, impact  and draping qualities. 

It's useful to have a couple of varieties available for each season, for example,  Winter months can be expensive for purchasing plant materials, so having a selection of berries, and coloured foliage can help to support the existing plant materials within your compositions.

If you have a garden that is new, providing a blanc canvas, or you are starting on your floral journey, and want to select suitable foliage to cut for your arrangements,  you may like to consider the following varieties, depending on the space and disposition of your garden:


  • Euonymus japonicus (Spindle) evergreen shrub with inconspicuous flowers is harmful if eaten!
  • Rosemary officinalis (rosemary) fragrant evergreen shrub with needle-like green/grey leaves and purple, pink or blue flowers used to signify remembrance
  • Viburnum opulus (Guelder rose) bushy deciduous shrub with cream/white dense flower clusters can get big - trim to maintain size


  • Hosta (Plantain Lily) Herbaceous perennial plant with heart shaped leaves in a variety of colours and variegated varieties. Has white, lilac-blue or purple flower spikes
  • Cornus alba (Dogwood) deciduous tree -  bright red stems in winter with delicate white flower clusters. Variegated leaves can get very big!
  • Brachyglottis (Senecio) Senecio sunshine evergreen shrub with grey, ovate leaves and bright yellow daisy-like flowers in loose clusters


  • Myrtus communis (Common Myrtle) evergreen shrub with aromatic dark green glossy leaves and cream flowers in summer  followed by black berries
  • Fatsia japonica (Fatsia) evergreen shrub with palmate leaves. White flowers in clusters in autumn followed by black berries berries are poisonous if eaten!
  • Elaeagnus pungens Maculata (Elaeagnus) bushy evergreen shrub with bright yellow leaves and a dark green margin. Has small fragrant white flowers in autumn 
  • Phormium Tenax (New Zealand Flax) Evergreen hardy plant with coloured sword-like leaves can get quite large!


  • Skimmia japonica (Skimmia) evergreen shrub with glossy dark green leaves. Has fragrant spring flowers followed by white or red berries. Only the female plants produce berries
  • Cotoneaster ‘Cornubia’ (Cotoneaster) is a deciduous shrub with glossy dark green leaves. Pink/white flowers in May followed by autumn berries. Berries are poisonous if consumed in quantity!
  • Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Lawsons cypress) a species of conifer. It is an evergreen tree with green/gold foliage producing small globular cones. Can grow very large. Can cause skin irritation if susceptible!
  • IIex (Holly) Evergreen shrub or tree (depending on selected variety) With dark green glossy or variegated spiny leaves  in order to produce berries the female plant requires a male plant nearby! Berries are poisonous if eaten

Other foliage varieties to consider:

  • Buxus sempervirens
  • Eucalyptus - all varieties
  • Beech
  • Camelia Japonica
  • Photinia Red Robin
  • Viburnum tinus (Laurustinus)

Commercially grown foliage can sometimes cost as much as cut flowers! Foliage is, however, long lasting and creates a perfect background to showcase beautiful florals. It is often used to define the shape and size of a design. When used in foliage only compositions, the wonderful hues and textures become apparent and give the gift of lush outdoor beauty.

Sign up to Newsletter

Sign up to our mailing list to get updates from our experts. We promise we will not pass your details on to anyone else.