15 beautiful leaf patterns for your garden design inspiration


With the sun out in July there had been many opportunities to capture beautiful light through the veins of some outstanding foliage in the parks around me. Some leaves are easier to capture truthfully than others; some photographs must be taken at awkward timings such as very early in the morning or in late evening. The combination of fresh foliage and magical light helps create some interesting images. Unique leaves, however small or large, in contrast to their outline, colour and shape hold much architecture be it in random or repeating patterns. This natural fluidity is an everlasting source of inspiration to any form of garden and landscape design.

1. Linearity 2. Curves 3. Colour 4. Contrast 5. Shadow 6. Transparency 7. Pattern 8. Texture 9. Rhythm 10. Depth 11. Architecture 12. Gracefulness 13. Sculptural 14. Tactile 15. Motif

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The individual blades that compose the frond of a Jelly Palm produce sharp linearity, which is augmented further in the afternoon sun.

Butia capitata Jelly palm leaf in the sun

  2. CURVES.

The moments before a Polypody fern unfurls its frond are magical, showing a delicate but strong architecture.

Polypody fern in the shade

  3. COLOUR.

The strong crimson leaf colour of a Trachlospermum climber contrasts beautifully with the fresh foliage and flowers.

Star Jasmine with flower buds and water droplets


There is a true deep contrast between the black serrated leaves of this Elderberry and its pure white flower discs. The terracotta tiled path with small black squares compliments this into one delicate yet vivid tapestry.

Black Elderberry with white flowers against a terracotta path  

  5. SHADOW.

In the shade under this huge London Plane tree another shadow appears when a small leaf is pushed by the wind onto a bigger one.

A baby London Plane leaf hides behind a large leaf


The evening summer sun accentuates so vividly the veins in the Honeysuckle leaves and the delicate hairs along its stems.

Honeysuckle show their veins in the summer sun


In this Horse Chestnut avenue in Holland Park, the patterns created by the young foliage come to life when sunshine penetrates through the canopy.

Horse Chestnuts in Holland Park create beautiful overhead patterns


I love the underside of the Fig leaf and always enjoy photographing both sides of the leaf. Growing in London, this specimen would not produce 2 crops of sweet delicious fruit but rather large, dark architectural leaves.

The veins of a Fig leaf contrast the smoothness of the fruit

  9. RHYTHM.

The Nothofagus from Chile produces small, alternate, dark glossy green leaves on reddish delicate stems draping from a tall tree. This rhythm creates a glistening effect and a joy to appreciate close up.

The leaf arrangement of a Nothofagus gives much staccato rhythm

10. DEPTH.  

The fresh foliage of Kniphofia, the red hot poker, yields a perfect fascinating pattern that accentuates the depth of the plant almost as if in an infinity drawing by M.C. Escher...

The blades of a Red hot poker produce flawless architecture


The architecture of one of the oldest perennial plants on our planet is as perfect as it was 350 million year ago. Horsetails can provide a perfectly vertical veil in waterlogged situations.

Horsetails produce very architectural stems


The Black Locust tree, Robinia pseudoacacia, grows into a twisted and mysterious tree. Within this asymmetrical framework the long leaves consist of graceful small leaflets.

The Black Locust tree has a ragged appearance with graceful individual leaves


Everything about a pine tree is sculptural - the trunk, the outline, the needles and the cones. This fresh cone is just forming, contrasting with its horizontal bands the upright needle clusters.

Pine trees produce sculptural cones and leaf clusters

  14. TACTILE.

There are great textures employed by coastal plants, particularly from down under, to combat intense light, salt spray, sand and wind. When situated in a garden so they are easily accessible to touch can produce a wonderful tactile experience.

The small round and dotted leaves of this Correa plant from Australia give a tactile experience  

Correa backhouseana

  15. MOTIF.

I have had this Clematis armandii for a long time, but I did not notice the intriguing motif within the leaf until I photographed it close up in the sun.

The leaf of Clematis armandii shows complicated patterns in the sun

Leaves are there long after the spring flowers had gone and have one more season to show what colour they can produce in the autumn. There is so much to be said about a tree canopy that cannot be captured in a photograph – the rustling of a Polar, the crunchy ground under a Pine or the taste of a Lemon Verbena… To articulate a design with foliage is to create a purposeful design because leaves are the most consistent components in our landscape.

amir   Written, photographed and posted by Amir Schlezinger.

A leaf of a London Plane tree in Alexandra Palace

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