There are many ways to add life to a dull garden. One is to add plants with different foliage textures; another is to add plants with unique colors or bold-shaped foliage. Sometimes all it takes is a few well-placed plants that have completely different foliage from the rest of your garden to make a dramatic impact on the look of your garden.
If your have a morning/sun, afternoon/shade or full shade location, consider plants such as acanthus with its large oak-shaped leaves and spikes of lilac flowers or alchemilla (lady’s mantle) with its wavy foliage and yellow flowers. You might try the glossy-leafed bergenia with pink-red flowers or caladium, which comes in a multitude of different foliage patterns, or ligularia with its large-toothed foliage and spikes of lemony yellow flowers. If you are looking for something really different, consider the eye-catching marbled foliage of brunnera and hosta or the unique shiny fan-shaped leaves of fatsia (Japanese aralia).
For sunny locations consider plants like the smoke bush (cotinus) with its burgundy purple foliage and wispy white blooms, the burgundy foliage of physocarpus (ninebark) or the unusual black foliage of ‘Black Lace’ elderberry. For something even more dramatic try a few burgundy or variegated foliage canna lilies, New Zealand flax or variegated weigela. For more height you can always plant a Southern magnolia (soulangeana).