Friday, August 16, 2013

August 2013 Foliage Follow-up Day

I've described myself a few times as a recovering flower fanatic.  In my former shady, postage stamp-sized garden, foliage plants served mainly as supporting players for the few flowering plants I could get to bloom on a reliable basis.  However, since moving to our larger, sunnier property over 2 years ago, I've gained a greater appreciation for foliage plants.  The fact that our new environment provides an opportunity to expand my foliage choices to include plants that would never have survived, much less thrived, with limited to no direct sunlight has also helped to broaden my perspective.

In mid-summer, my flowering plants all seem to look a little bedraggled.  In contrast, the plants grown mostly for their foliage are looking good, leading me to ask myself why I haven't added more of these.  The current star of my foliage collection is a Leucadendron I brought from my former garden.  I don't have any record of the variety but, judging from its pale yellow winter coloration, I'm guessing that it's L. salignum 'Wilson's Wonder'.  It had been in a large pot at the front of our old house in a spot that received about a half day's sun.  When we moved, I pulled it out of the pot and plopped it into a mostly sunny location along the driveway of our new house.  I expected little but it delivered a lot.  Here it is in all its glory:

Leucadendron salignum (probably 'Wilson's Wonder')

The same plant photographed from another angle to show its red/orange summer foliage

Close-up of red/orange bracts


This particular Leucadendron is currently about 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide but I've kept it within bounds by pruning it back a little after it finishes its winter bloom.  It's evergreen and drought tolerant like other plants of its genus.

While I haven't found another 'Wilson's Wonder' for my garden, I did pick up L. salignum 'Chief' last January, which I placed in the dry garden on one side of the house.  It hasn't reached the size of the one in the front of the house (yet) but it's also looking good.  The foliage of this one is finer and the coloration is slightly less vivid.

Leucadendron salignum 'Chief'

This Leucadendron stands out nicely against the grey foliage of the Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola' behind it.  You may have noticed that the Leucadendron in the first photos was underplanted with Abelia grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope', which is another of my favorite foliage plants.  Last year I added 3 of these to my back border.  They're still relatively small but they're nonetheless doing a lot to brighten my August garden.



Another plant I've used in multiple locations is Arthropodium cirratum (aka Renga Lily).  It produces a nice spray of white flowers touched with yellow and purple in the spring but the reason I've planted so many of these has more to do with the attractive foliage, its drought tolerance, and its ability to handle a wide range of sun conditions.  The only upkeep it requires is an annual clean-up of the dead foliage at its base.  It looks best with a little afternoon shade but it can hold its own in the hot afternoon sun as well.  This one is planted outside our living room window.

Arthopodium cirratum (aka Renga Lily)


Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey' is yet another plant I've installed in multiple locations.  It reportedly can get up to 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide but I'm trying to keep mine smaller and bushier by clipping them back a few times a year.  I think it looks best surrounded by green plants to highlight its plum and green coloration.

Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey'


Other foliage plants that look particularly good now include the following:

Cordyline 'Renegade' in a pot appropriated after the sale of my mother-in-law's home

Crassula radicans 'Small Red', planted from a 6-pack last February in various locations, forming a nice mound

Unknown ruffled Echeveria (Why can't more nurseries label their succulents?)

Guava 'Mexican Pear', inherited with the house

Plectranthus ciliatus (unknown variety), brought from my old house to the new one as a cutting

Prosanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata' (aka mint bush) doesn't photograph well but it's beautiful - it would be spectacular against a dark-leaved foliage plant in partial sun if I can find an appropriate companion and placement for another one

Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Mocha Mint Coleus', which is looking more yellow than mocha in my garden


Stachys byzantina 'Countess Helen Von Stein' (aka 'Big Ears), which I'm gradually introducing to replace the more common variety of Lamb's Ears


My husband and I are currently working to remove a large area of battered lawn in our side yard and, while my fall planting plan is still in development, I'm looking mainly to foliage plants to fill the space.  Among those I'm considering are Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Stipa tenuissima or perhaps a larger grass, and more Cordyline 'Renegade' or a dark purple/burgundy Phormium.

I'm joining Pam at Digging to celebrate this month's choicest foliage plants.  You can find more foliage selections here on her site.

13 comments:

  1. Oh to be able to grow gorgeous Leucadendron like that in the garden!

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    1. At this time of the year, I begin to think that all I should grow is Leucadendron.

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  2. Love the Plectranthus...especially with those contrasting leaf undersides...and the Prosanthera is beautiful!

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    1. I have to admit that this Plectranthus is one of my very favorite plants. It should flower soon too. I need to improve the soil in my other partial shade beds so I can get more cuttings in the ground!

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  3. You have a lot of great foliage plants, I love all the bright colors.

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    1. Yellow is my favorite color so I tend to favor foliage plants with bright yellow tones. Thanks for visiting, Shirley!

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  4. I really enjoyed spending time in your garden, the photos were all quite lovely.

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    1. That's nice of you to say, Charlie. Thanks for visiting!

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  5. You had me enthralled with the Leucadendron but then you just kept including more more more! Yes I am jealous of your zone, I admit it.

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    1. That's okay - I'm terribly jealous of yours!

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  6. Oooh, I love that Leucadendron! The main reason I started growing so many tropical foliage plants in my garden is because I struggle with bedraggled blooming plants that grow in sun. Most sun perennials bloom for a few weeks then look like crap for the rest of the season. My shade gardens always look good all season with minimal maintenance because they are mostly foliage. Shrubs provide much of the foliage structure in sun here but it's not easy to find large, bold leaves. Maybe I need to move. :)

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    1. Since about all I had at our last place was shade, I welcomed moving here where I have so much sun. However, now I miss the shade! Maybe it's human nature to fixate on what we don't have...Next year, I'm tearing out more lawn to build up some decent shade beds but, in the meantime, I'm working on another sun-drenched bed, using plants built to handle my current environs rather than those picky perennials.

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  7. I sure did admire those Leucadendrons when I was in San Francisco, even though I didn't know what they were at the time. The red-tipped leaves are so colorful!

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