Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Shiny Leaves in the Garden

Pachysandra terminalis 'Green Sheen'
Pachysandra terminalis ‘Green Sheen’ started it all. With its incredibly shiny reflective leaves, it’s impossible to stroll by without noticing it. Except for its sheen, it’s a rather unremarkable plant, but in my shady garden, its shiny surface shouts, “Pause and look at me!” So I started looking for other leaves that had the same effect. Ajuga reptans ‘Metallica Crispa’, Osmanthus rotundifolius, Polystichum setiferum (Shield Fern), and Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’ are shiny standouts in my garden, especially ‘Metallica Crispa’. I was curious about other plants that offered shiny foliage, which is especially useful in a shady spot. I happened to be at Portland Nursery for a class, so I took a quick stroll around to see which plants offered intensely shiny foliage and here’s a short list of what I found:
  • Angelica pachycarpa (so incredible I bought one even though I knew nothing about the plant!)
  • Bergenia cordifolia (virtually any cultivar, and its broad dramatic leaves heighten the effect)
  • Cyrtomium falcatum (Japanese Holly Fern)
  • Euonymus japonicas ‘Macrophyllus Butterscotch’
  • Fatsia japonica (I am on the fence about this plant, but its leaves are big and shiny)
  • Heuchera ‘Midnight Ruffles’ or other dark-leaved cultivars
  • Ilex x meservae ‘MonNieves’ PP21941 (Scallywag™ Holly)
  • Quercus robur x bicolor ‘Long’ PP12673 (Regal Prince® Oak)

Do you have a favorite shiny leaved plant?

Ajuga reptans ‘Metallica Crispa’
Osmanthus rotundifolius
Polystichum setiferum (Shield Fern)
Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’
Angelica pachycarpa
Bergenia cordifolia
Cyrtomium falcatum (Japanese Holly Fern)
Euonymus japonicas ‘Macrophyllus Butterscotch’
Fatsia japonica
Heuchera ‘Midnight Ruffles’
Photo: Terra Nova Nurseries Inc

Scallywag™ Holly
Regal Prince® Oak


  1. Terrific specimens there! I love the Real Prince Oak. Surprising to see such much shininess on an oak!

  2. Shiny leaves definitely add a classy touch to your garden. I like the shape of the Skallywag Holly leaves.

  3. Some nice options here, I use the Ajuga and Euonymus quite often. Aucuba can be great in the right spot as well.