Foliage Follow-up Day is an opportunity to highlight the foliage that often gets short shrift with all the attention given to flowers. To be honest, after so many years gardening in a shady, postage stamp-sized garden, I'm afraid I went more than a little bloom crazy when we moved to our current, mostly sunny, half-acre property a little more than 2 years ago. However, I've recently begun focusing more attention on foliage as, after all, it's a more persistent presence in the garden and also essential to preventing the busy look that can come with an excessive reliance on flower color.
I'm lucky to have inherited a lot of established hedges. I also have quite a bit of lawn - I've been chipping away at that and plan to continue to do so but I'll leave some as it offers an opportunity for the eye to rest.
I brought a few foliage plants with me from our old house in the form of cuttings. The Plectranthus I placed in a bed running along our living room did very well, although I've had a harder time establishing it elsewhere. It gets about 2 hours of morning sun along the living room and the foliage stays a rich green with purple undersides. It also flowers well in the fall. I've had some difficulty definitively identifying the species. It's most likely Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Warrior', although some of the descriptions suggest this plant is shorter than mine has proven to be. In my experience, this plant gets to about 2 feet tall and can easily spread twice that distance.
|Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Warrior'?|
|Photo showing the underside of the leaf on this Plectranthus|
My cutting of Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon' also took and, so far, has remained well-behaved in the same mostly shade bed. I cut it back hard in the fall. I'm thinking of trying it in another, somewhat sunnier location after seeing a vigorous example of the same plant in the Getty Center's garden.
|Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon'|
A friend gave me several divisions of a golden feverfew, which I've inserted in various locations that needed a jolt of chartreuse green. It flowers but I grow it mainly for the ferny foliage.
|Tanacetum parthenium 'Aureum'|
In terms of major foliage accents, I've added Phormiums in several locations. Here are a few of the larger varieties.
|Installed shortly after we moved in, I kept no record of the name of this one|
|Phormium tenax 'Apricot Queen' (I think - I may have this and the next one confused)|
|Phormium tenax 'Yellow Wave' (I know - it needs grooming)|
I've also added a lot of Heucheras, although their placement has posed an issue as I've found they don't do well in full sun here, where they can shrivel during the heat of summer. Here are a few of the most interesting varieties.
|Heuchera 'Miracle', returned this spring after partial die back last fall|
|Heuchera 'Melting Fire', a new addition|
|Heuchera 'Marvelous Marbles', still struggling a bit in an area that gets just morning sun|
|Heuchera 'Key Lime Pie', moved last year from a very shaded area to one that gets morning sun|
The elimination of the large Eucalyptus tree from our side yard early this year, which I wrote about here, created a large new bed and an opportunity to add more foliage plants. Two of the best additions are the Dryms lanceolata, inserted as the centerpiece of the new bed, and the 3 Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussy', inserted as accent plants. The Dryms, also known as a Mountain Pepper, is still small - just over a foot tall - but it should eventually reach 10-15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. True to its advertisement, it produced small greenish white flowers in early spring. It's supposed to develop black fruit in the fall but, in the meantime, it displays the nice red stems shown below.
|Dryms lanceolata, still an infant|
The Coprosmas would show better against a green background. As this is a fairly sunny spot, I'm thinking of adding a ground-hugging thyme as a backdrop.
|Coprosma repens "Plum Hussey'|
I'm going to have to be vigilant about cutting this plant back to keep it in scale. The one I placed on the sloping edge of my dry garden is already getting too tall and skinny, which won't do in the other bed.
|Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussy' living up to her name in the crowded dry garden|
My final foliage offering will no doubt appear pitiful; however, I thought this Clerodendrum myricoides 'Ugandense', the second one I've tried in this garden, was a goner. I had a beautiful shrub of this variety at a rental apartment in Santa Monica many, many years ago and it's a sentimental favorite of mine but I'm afraid it doesn't like our current location much. My first try died within 6 months - or maybe I just gave up on it too soon. I started with a smaller plant on my second try and, while it produced it's trademark blue butterfly-shaped flowers, it declined soon after flowering last summer. I cut it back, gave it a healthy shot of compost, and waited. Last month, I thought it was dead but, as this picture indicates, there are now signs of life! As the saying goes, hope springs eternal.
|Clerodendrum myricoides 'Ugandense'|
Pam at Digging hosts this monthly foliage follow-up. Please go to her site for more foliage photos.