Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Foliage Follow-up - A Little of This and a Little of That

In spring, it's easy to get overwhelmed by flowers.  They're everywhere.  While some flowers complement one another, others clash.  I looked around my garden while taking pictures for yesterday's Bloom Day post and thought, I need more foliage to pull this garden together.  Foliage Follow-up, sponsored by Pam at Digging, is a celebration of foliage and a regular reminder of its importance in the garden.

Some of my foliage is so brightly colored, it can almost be mistaken for floral material.  Yucca 'Bright Star' falls into that category.  I added 3 of these to my main backyard border in January.  The plants are still relatively small and the surrounding plants currently distract attention away from them to a degree, but I think that'll change as the Yucca grow taller.  If the neighboring Nicotiana alata 'Lime Green' encroach upon them, the Nicotiana may have to go.

One of 3 Yucca 'Bright Star' in the mid portion of the main backyard border

Another of the 3 plants photographed from above to show off the color variation

The Yucca are currently surrounded by Nicotiana alata, Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid,' a Prostanthera ovalifolia and Adenophora seedlings



Abelia grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope' could also be considered a flower-like foliage plant.  It's hard to ignore in any setting.  I've used it in groups in 3 different parts of the garden.

This one, introduced in the in the backyard border 2 years ago with 2 others, is putting on new growth



I'm continuing to add plants for foliage interest.  One of my most recent purchases is Melianthus major, purchased at s spring plant sale conducted by the local botanic garden.  Although it can grow up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) tall and wide, I've been told that it can easily be kept to a smaller size.  I've added mine to what I'm calling my "red bed," an area previously occupied by a seldom-used snorkel spa that was dismantled in January, freeing up more garden space.  (One has to establish priorities, even in the garden.)

Newly-planted Melianthus major



I've added a variety of foliage elements to the other new backyard bed, an extension of our fountain bed.  Among these are 6 Liriope spicata, clumped in 2 groups of 3 plants each.  I understand that this species of Liriope can spread with abandon so I hope I don't regret the choice.  At present, I like how it adds a spiky vertical element along the pathway.

Liriope spicata



On the other side of the path, along the house, Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Warrior' is once again showing why it's one of my favorite plants.  It's attractive even when it isn't in bloom.  The foliage also has a nice spicy scent.  I cut it back hard this winter but it has once again put on a healthy flush of new growth.  I established this mass from cuttings brought from our old house and I recently planted cuttings from this stock in the new bed on the other side of the path (as well as other locations in the side and front yards).

Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Warrior' gets just morning sun



On a recent trip, I picked up a new Aeonium, A. canariense (aka the Velvet Rose), which ended up in a large pot on the small south-side patio.  I'm hoping that it'll prove as easy to grow as the other Aeonium I have growing all around the property.  When we moved in, a friend gifted me with a few cuttings of what I believe is some variety of Aeonium arboreum.  Unsure where to put it, I planted a few pieces below the citrus trees in the vegetable garden.  The few quickly grew into many and now, whenever I have an empty area in dry soil I'm not sure what to do with, I stick an Aeonium cutting directly in the soil, walk away and see what happens.  So far, there's no place these plants haven't thrived.  (Frankly, it's almost scary.)

Aeonium canariense

The original clump of Aeonium arboreum planted below the Mandarin orange tree has grown dramatically in size despite regular harvesting of cuttings

Another clump, developed from cuttings stuck into the soil about a year ago

A few plants recently added in a very dry, largely untended area near the driveway where nothing much other than weeds (aka as Santa Barbara daisies) grow



I haven't added any of these Aeonium to the dry garden (yet).  I'm not sure why.  However, when I was walking about snapping pictures for this post, I noticed that Leucadendron 'Ebony' (acquired last September at far below the usual going rate, possibly due to mis-labeling as 'Safari Sunset'), is putting on new growth at last.

Leucadendron 'Ebony'



Finally, while searching for foliage high-notes, I looked down and realized how nicely my thyme groundcover is filling in among the stepping stones in the side yard.

The thyme shown here, labeled as Thymus serpyllum, hugs the soil

This thyme, also sold as Thymus serpyllum, is somewhat taller (grown here with Ajuga 'Mint Chips')



These are my foliage highlights for April 2014.  Please visit Pam, our foliage follow-up hostess, here to see her foliage highlights and to find links to other gardeners' contributions to this useful meme.


20 comments:

  1. Hmmm, Plant Delights lists that Yucca as zone 7a...I wonder. Melianthus is a plant I always grow as an annual. Can't wait for tropical foliage season to return!

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    1. I hope you get a start on your tropical plant season soon, Sue. I can't believe how difficult the endless winter has been for so much of the country.

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  2. Your thyme is filling in between the stepping stones and making that area look well established. I'm envious of your ease with Aeoniums as here we baby them and bring them inside for the winter. Your Leucadendron 'Ebony' is beautiful with the sun shining through it and works really well with the purple blooms in front. Gorgeous foliage!

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    1. ThatLeucadendron was a tremendous find. I don't usually get that lucky on my nursery outings.

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  3. It's so fun to see all the plants you have that we have just as houseplant.
    But a Sisrynchium bellum grows in my garden, bought it in England on a garden trip.
    Wishing you a nice Easter weekend
    Best regards
    Mariana

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  4. Great plants! I love that Abelia so much.

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    1. It's one of my favorite plants too, Hoover Boo - as is evident by the fact that I currently have 9 - no, actually 10! - of them.

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  5. Ohh and we just bought some thyme a couple of hours ago to put in between paving stones :) your selection of foliage plants impress just as much as your bloom ones!

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    1. The other plants I've tried between the stepping stones haven't done half as well as good old creeping thyme. I just bought another 6-pack to fill in some areas in which another groundcover failed to do the job.

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  6. Such beautiful color on your Bright Star Yuccas! I hope you can manage to keep it, the pink on mine has faded to just the tips.

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    1. I think the Yucca probably got a boost when we cut back the trees overhead, Alison. Fingers crossed they continue to do well.

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  7. That's what I love about certain types of foliage, especially succulents: they resemble flowers but "bloom" all the time. Also, I can imagine how nice the thyme between the pavers smells as it is stepped on.

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    1. Thyme doesn't get much glory but, as plants go, there are few as dependable.

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  8. I always wondered what it would be like to have a Melianthus major reach those promised proportions. However have the winter of 2012/13 was a dream I finally understood that thing can get huge! Thankfully (I can't believe I'm saying that) last winter cut mine back to the ground and it's starting all over again, much smaller. Yours will no doubt bloom, a fabulous sight for sure!

    As for the aeoniums I can only dream...

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    1. The Aeoniums are remarkably resilient. I really do need to try them in the dry garden and on the slope - there can't be much better tests of their survival skills than those 2 locations.

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  9. Your thyme has filled in beautifully! Your foliage plants are a great complement to the flowers. The colors of Leucadendron 'Ebony' are amazing.

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    1. I should have bought more of those Leucadendron when I had the chance. The going rate locally is 2x what I paid for that one.

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  10. My favourite has to be the Leucadendron - what spectacular colour! The Thyme and the stepping stones is a great feature, I love it.

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    1. That Leucadendron lives up to its name, Angie - other than perhaps Aeonium 'Schwartzkopf' and Ajuga 'Black Scallop,' L. 'Ebony' is probably the darkest plant I have.

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