My front lawn has been dug up and our front entry is now surrounded by more than 800 square feet (74 square meters) of bare dirt. Dirt that, left untended, will sprout weeds and grass attempting a come-back. I'm planning to haul in additional topsoil to create berms and improve the overall quality of my vast expanse of dirt. A wide area around the Magnolia tree will be topped with decomposed granite and remain unplanted. But the rest of the area will be filled by plant material that I hope will be far less thirsty than the unhappy lawn we previously had.
In considering what to plant, I've begun by looking at what has done well in my garden thus far. I thought I'd use this foliage follow-up post, written in connection with the monthly meme sponsored by Pam at Digging
, to highlight the foliage plants that have demonstrated their drought tolerance during my, admittedly short, stewardship of this garden.
Since I reduced my water usage, I've lost a lot of plants. The healthy ones stand out dramatically in contrast to those holding on by their root hairs. Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'
is one of these. As I went through my garden I was surprised just how good these plants look, especially those that have been in the ground for a year or more. Last December, I commented that the 'Cousin Itt'
I had in a pot looked better than those in the ground but the plants in the ground have taken off. Perhaps they like drought.
|This one looked spindly last December but it's got a healthy mop now|
|Despite competing with tree roots, this one's ready to take over a portion of the backyard lawn|
|The 3 plants in this border look better than any of the surrounding plants|
I'm also impressed by the 3 Agonis flexuosa 'Nana'
I planted last September. Like the Agonis flexuosa
trees that surround the property, 'Nana,'
a dwarf variety, is taking the drought in stride.
|One of the 3 Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' planted along the side yard patio|
I've had mixed results with Phormium
but P. tenax 'Atropurpureum'
and P. 'Amazing Red,'
which some sources indicate also belongs to the tenax
species, have been the most reliable.
|Crowded into a relatively small area along the driveway, this P. tenax 'Atropurpureum' is doing fine|
|I've been very pleased with this more diminutive P. 'Amazing Red' too - I now have 4 of them|
Among the smaller plants, I've been impressed by the drought tolerance of Lomandra longifolia
, a grass-like plant; furry Pelargonium tomentosum
, also known as peppermint geranium; and Helichrysum petiolare 'Petite Licorice,'
which spreads in my garden with relative abandon.
|I now have 9 Lomandra longifolia 'Breeze' - I pick up one or more every time I come across them in small pots|
|The peppermint geranium can get by with less water in partial shade (it's certainly doing better than the nearly dead foxglove next to it in this picture)|
|The gray-leaved Helichrysums are astounding performers in the sunny, dry areas of my garden but I prefer the fine-leafed variety, which I inherited with the garden, even though it plants itself wherever it likes|
I've acquired quite a few Leucadendron
in the past 3 years as well. One, L. 'Wilson's Wonder,'
moved in with me - it exploded in size when I removed it from the large pot I had it in at our old house and put it in the ground here. I've purchased half a dozen more Leucadendron
since then, most of them hybrids of L. salignum.
I haven't had any problems with them until L. 'Rising Sun,'
planted in March, died suddenly this month.
|Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' gets no attention other than an annual trim|
|Leucadendron salignum 'Chief' has been happy in my dry garden since January 2013 and L. 'Ebony' has sat at its feet for a year now|
I'm still not sure what caused the rapid demise of L. 'Rising Sun.'
The 2 most likely culprits are phosphorus toxicity - plants in the Protea family are said to react negatively to phosphorus in soil or fertilizer - or Phytophthora root rot. It looks more like the latter to me but I'm no expert when it comes to conducting a plant post-mortem. Still, I'm going to test my soil before I plant a lot more Leucadendrons
. I think another L. 'Wilson's Wonder' might do very well in the front yard.
|The sad L. 'Rising Sun' shortly before I gave up and pulled it out|
You can find more foliage-focused posts by visiting Pam at Digging
All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party