Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Favorite Foliage Affiliations

Pam of Digging hosts a monthly discussion of foliage to emphasize its importance to the overall appeal of our gardens and as a counterpoint to what is sometimes an excessive emphasis on a garden's floral elements.  This month I thought I'd focus on a few of my favorite foliage combinations.

Some of these combinations came with the house, most notably the selection of the now mature trees that frame our backyard view.  What's interesting about the following 2 pictures is that both feature pairs of the same tree; however, there heights are staggered.  Did the gardener who planted them place them at different times or start with trees of different size, or did they simply grown at different rates?  I don't know the answer but it adds another dimension to the view.

Agonis flexuosa (aka peppermint willow) trees overlooking the harbor

2 Arbutus 'Marina' that partially screen a neighbor's home on the northwest side of the house

I also inherited the mature Calliandra haematocephala that stands roughly in the middle of a bed that runs along our living and dining room windows but the rest of the plants there, all grown mainly for their foliage, are my own additions.

Calliandra haematocephala, grown mainly for its foliage, also screens the exterior view of the TV placed along the windows in the living room

Looking southeast, this narrow border includes Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Warrior,' Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tri-star,' Arthropodium cirratum, Ageratum corymbosum, Persicaria 'Red Dragon,' and the afore-mentioned Calliandra

This plant and 2 others were labeled as Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tri-star'

However, this one, which appears to be the same plant, was labeled as Strobilanthes purpurea but, as best I've been able to determine, that's an erroneous classification

This section of the same bed, looking from the other direction toward the Calliandra, includes Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' (in a pot), Plectranthus zuluensis, Liriope muscari, and another Arthropodium cirratum

I included a number of foliage plants in the border created in the southeast side yard last fall as well.  The 2 plants with the most impact are Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' and Phormium 'Amazing Red.'  There are 3 of each here.

View of the southeast side border looking toward the patio

View of the same border looking in the direction of the street - the reddish burgundy of Phormium 'Amazing Red' echos the foliage color of Coprosma 'Plum Hussey' and the trunk of the Arbutus 'Marina' in the background

A few of my other foliage combinations are still works in progress.

I like how the red stems and new growth of Leucandendron salignum 'Chief' in the dry garden picks up the red tips of the Leucadendron 'Ebony' in front of it and the foliage color of Coprosma 'Plum Hussey' behind it but the overall area is a mish-mash and needs both a clean-up and some reorganization to reach its potential

I like the bright green of the Pelargonium tomentosum with the green-flecked mostly red foliage of the Coprosma 'Plum Hussey' here but one of the 3 Coprosma is seriously stunted and I can't make up my mind how I feel about the mass of grey Helichrysum petiolare behind the Coprosma

Combinations in pots are much easier to control.  I'm pleased by all of my summer-time foliage compositions.

3 varieties of coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) 

Pennisetum 'Puple Majesty' paired with lime green Alternanthera

Larger view of the same combination

Coleus 'Chocolate Splash' paired with Dichondra 'Emerald Falls'

For more foliage highlights, please visit Pam at Digging.


  1. Nice tour, Kris. Those dark Pennisetums always grab my attention -- tall, dark and handsome!

    1. The dash of lime green in those Pennisetums adds to its appeal for me, Pam. Thanks for hosting Foliage Follow-up!

  2. Very interesting post. I really like the coleus, all varieties, but I can imagine that the snails would too.

    1. I haven't had any problem with snails attacking the coleus, Aga, but maybe that's because they're in pots - or because the raccoons who roam the property at night gobble up the snails!

  3. Gorgeous foliage, much of it seems quite exotic to my eyes. I have seen Calliandra in Martinique, I love the foliage but I also love those big red pompoms.
    The big Peppermint willows are wonderful framing the view of the harbour.

    1. We do have a Mediterranean climate, Chloris. The Calliandra bloom best if the shrub is allowed to take off but as ours are all along pathways, the gardener tends to keep them sheared close. (I've been tempted to get rid of the gardener as all he does is cut grass and hack the hedges but keeping the latter in check is a bit more of an effort than I'm up for.)

  4. Fantastic foliage! I'm envious of your Agonis and Leucodendron. And I wish Pelargonium tomentosum was hardy here.

    1. Both the Agonis and Leucadendron have proven to be great performers here. Grevilleas and Pelargonium too, although the latter need regularly pruning to keep them from looking gangly.

  5. The mature arbutus are lovely, and so many good things you've added. That lime-edged coleus is really something too!

    1. I almost skipped the coleus this year, Denise. What was I thinking?

  6. Great post Kris! I think I've finally caught up with my blog reading post-Fling...


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