Some thoughts on variegation...


It's the height of summer around here and we take many walks.  You can't see it from this angle
but my fur gal is watching a river otter swim through the bull kelp.
She'd be down there in a flash if she liked to swim.  Instead, she gets her picture taken
while I sit there saying to myself for the umpteenth time how much I love that soft patch of white...

Here's a plant with some varied patches of its own.
Oh, how I adore this...a sweet little honeysuckle called 'Harlequin.'
I suppose those leaves could be called tricolored?
while watering the garden the other evening I had a gander around and realized just how many variegated plants I've added to the mix.  My garden is young - barely two years old - and I've already gone a little
nutso for mottled and streaked foliage.

This is a favorite way to use it...stick it in front of a plain green background.
Here in the Pacific Northwest we have so. much. green.    greengreengreengreenGREEN.
Don't get me wrong...our native rose hedges are beauteous (in bloom there in the back)
and the scent is nothing short of intoxicating,
but after a brief bloom time in June they are, dare I say, nothing short of boring.
And that's why that variegated red twig dogwood came to be in that spot.

This combo is on the shady porch, a velvety coleus co-mingling with a delightful plant
that happens to go by the un-delightful name of spotted dead nettle.

Okay...I'll admit here and now that I'm a total snob about my variegation.
It must meet, shall I say, certain ***criteria*** for me to like it.
I do NOT like all variegation.
In fact, some of it is so downright hideous that I'd like to have a word with the plant breeder
and ask them,
 "WHUT were you thinking?!?"
Here's one I can't stand...belongs in the compost pile, if you ask me...

unlike this sweetie which I can't live without,

a tough and extremely useful creeping thyme called 'Highland Cream.'
I have this one stuffed all around the flagstones...fluffs up the edges, if you know what I mean,
and doesn't bat a blossom from all the dawg paw traffic.
Bred in England, it has a lot more variegated restraint than that aforementioned monstrosity.

Here's my latest acquisition, Caryopteris 'White Surprise,'   Since this photo it's been planted in front of a dark, purple-leaved smokebush called 'Grace.'

Of all my variegated plants, this one 
is my most special treasure.
It gets babied more than the dawgs - and that's sayin' somethin.
Can you blame me?  Look at it!
A maple tree whose newest leaves are APRICOT colored and then become (in my opinion) divinely speckled.
But those aren't the real reasons it's so special.  The real reason is not the least bit frivolous.
It was a gift...
from a friend who understands the meaning of giving me such a heartfelt present.

This is not a plant, but it's another form of variegation happening in the garden...

To my dawg pals, Let's Walk!
To my plant friends, Happy Growing!
And to my sewing sistahs, Happy Stitching!


  1. One can never have too much green. Thanks for the walk in the garden - beautiful.

    Take good care,


  2. Hurrah for variegation. I love the coleus, and the stitching - of course.

  3. Love your Fur Gal and her white patch.
    Love your garden.
    Love, love, love your stitchin'!

  4. I love that thyme! I wrote it down for my next trip to the wet side. Growing up over there and then moving to the desert side was a shock to my system. I would love to be able to grow the Caryopteris, but it wouldn't survive the cold. The maple, oh my! I love those leaves. Thanks for sharing your garden, your pooch, and the view. Have a beautiful weekend.

  5. Just want to pet that furry head. And that thyme is a beautiful one. I had a plant, can't remember why it didn't survive. I'll have to try again. I have a lot of variegated leaves too, for the same reason.

    We've had some days lately that have been so beautiful it just makes my heart ache...especially around 7:30 to 8:00 PMish.

    Walk, grow, sew, it's all good and wonderful.

  6. Now you SEE why I like this place so much. I'm a friend in all 3 catagories!

    xx, Carol

  7. Thanks so much for a walk in your garden. I love the variegated leaves. We have WAY too much GREEN here also. During this time of the year I almost feel claustrophobic with trees/shrubs all higher than I am and all GREEN!

  8. That's really got me thinking - I love variegated plants (and I adore your acer) and I'm a complete sucker for any sort of vareigated thread, fabric or ribbon! Never made that connection until now...

  9. K@stitchinglife2 ~ I could go wild with coleus if I had enough shade...in their case, I think the plant breeders have come up with some jaw-dropping combos...

    Penny B ~ lovelovelove your reply ;>}

    Jeannie ~ a fellow Washingtonian? Greetings, and the same back to you!

    Deb ~ she would let you pet her furry head...FOR HOURS. And I know that kind of heart ache so well. The light is so exquisite then, isn't it? "walk, grow, sew, it's all good and wonderful." oh yessssss.

    underatopazsky ~ that is the very connection that struck me. I didn't *meet* variegated thread until a couple years ago but I've grown quite smitten with its effect on cloth since then, especially with a simple running stitch, or kantha. Every maker of variegated thread does it differently so the effects seem endless. My favorite maker at the moment is Diane Cransac in France - do you know of her?

    NOTE TO THOSE LEAVING COMMENTS: if you have an email address attached to your Blogger account, I will always try to reply by sending a personal response via email...so easy & quick to get back to you right away. But either way, I love that you write something...we are all very busy and it is no small thing to stop a few moments for a short missive.

  10. Variegated stitching, wonderful. And your garden looks brilliant too.


  11. You are RIGHT! here in the NW we have GREEEEEEEEN coming out of our pores!
    Green stuff apparently LOVE cool rainy summers! your up close leaf images are beautiful except for purple green coleus one but you don't like it either :-) and I love your stitching at the end.

  12. Yes, I do - I have her blog on my blog roll but didn't know her full name! And I've actually been eyeing the ribbons and threads in her shop only this week. :o)
    Variegated thread in kantha is one of my absolute favourite ways of using it. I love the way the different shades blend or contrast, appearing to move in and out of the cloth as they change.

  13. how you describe the soft white fur spot..I love you!

  14. Chisti,
    I love thinking about your variagated colours.. beautiful post.
    And wonderful words from you before...thank you.
    Things are looking gorgeous indeed here at your blpg!

  15. love that white patch dawg, got one of me own. lovely photo.
    very nice views from your lense...we have many of the same variegations going on.

  16. Ooooh this is a beautiful post!!!! I'm a lover of variegated


    hmmmm, just about everything...

    Lovely post!

  17. Forgot to mention...

    That's a Grand Champ of a dog picture, missy! Think about entering it in a competition where there's a BIG cash prize. Might pay for a workshop down the road...

    Love the maple too, the photo AND the tree. OMG! I had a Japanese red leaf maple in my yard at my Seattle home that was like this. New leaves were lime green, and as they aged they turned from red to deep burgundy. Specia!

  18. What an absolutely delightful post. Your passions are quite clear.
    I too have passion for pups, plants and stitch.
    ahhhh the simple things in life.