Friday, January 16, 2015

Foliage Follow-up: Favorite Foliage Combinations

For this Foliage Follow-up, the monthly celebration of foliage sponsored by Pam at Digging, I thought I'd focus on some of own favorite foliage combinations.  In time, I hope the foliage in the front garden will top my list but planting in that area is still incomplete and the plants currently in place need time to mature.  Planted in the fall of 2013, the garden bed situated along the side yard patio is closer to realizing my original vision for it.

Bed photographed looking east toward the harbor

Bed photographed from the other direction, looking west toward the arbor entrance to the front garden

Plant detail, clockwise from top left: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana'; Alternanthera tenella mingling with creeping thyme; x Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' and Graptosedum 'California Sunset'; and Aeonium 'Kiwi' with thyme


Other areas where my foliage selections are making a difference include these:

The area across from the side patio bed, dominated here by Arthropodium cirratum and Acanthus mollis, both beautiful even without blooms

The area surrounding the pathway leading down into my "glen," bordered on each side by Pelargonium tomentosum and punctuated by Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey' on the left and Prostanthera ovalifolia and Aeonium (no ID) on the right

The bed running along the lower side of the slope

Some of the plants along the slope include (clockwise from upper left): Agave attenuata mingling with weed-like Geranium incanum and Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid'; Pelargonium 'White Lady' mingling with Euphorbia; a Centranthus ruber seedling implanted in the wall adjoining the steps (with weeds I didn't see when the photo was taken); and moss with ivy 


While I was taking these photos, I made a sad discovery.

This Monarch butterfly was alive when I found it near the side patio this morning


Despite a torn wing, I'd hoped the butterfly would recover.  It did shift position but, as it hasn't moved since this morning, it appears it isn't going to fly away.  Then, after I'd returned to the house, I heard something strike the living room window and found a tiny hummingbird on the ground.  Birds occasionally hit those windows but most recover so I left it alone.  Happily, in this case, the bird recovered.

Seconds after I snapped this photo, before I could try to get another, this little bird flew off


Visit Pam at Digging to check out her foliage picks this month and to find links to other gardeners' foliage highlights.


 All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

25 comments:

  1. Fab foliage collection Kris and we always get a dose of sunshine from your blog :) glad the little bird recovered!

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    1. Well, Florida claims to be the Sunshine State but California certainly runs a close second.

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  2. It's so much fun to see what would be very tender succulents here, planted in the ground. So glad the hummer recovered.

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    1. I always think of succulents as tough as steel plants - I often forget that, in many cases, frost is their kryptonite.

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  3. I hate it when birds fly into windows, but it would break my heart if it were a tiny hummer. I'm glad it's OK.

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    1. As I was already distressed about the butterfly, I was nearly inconsolable about the hummingbird, especially as 3 Cedar waxwings died instantly after flying into the same window a month before. Until then, we'd had only 1 other bird-strike fatality in 4 years. I'm going to try one of those decals on the window to see if it helps put a halt to these events.

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  4. Like that Agonis 'Nana' very much. Happy the hummer was okay.

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    1. The Agonis (I've got 3) were probably the best decision I made in designing that bed. Thus far, the plants have been care free. Re the hummer, I was SO relieved when he sat up - it was about an hour before he was ready to fly.

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  5. Gorgeous foliage all around. At times I find blooms distracting as I'm trying to track the progress of a plant or mass of plants. I agree taking the view of the plant as defined by its foliage is a much more revealing detail for new growth.

    As lovely as it all is - when do you get an "off" season with some down time?

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    1. We really don't have an off season, although things slow down in the heat of mid-summer - mainly because I can't bring myself to do much except in early morning or late afternoon, but then you know that problem well in Texas. People in colder climates speak enviously of the year-round gardening conditions in SoCal but it can be exhausting, especially if the gardener is sucked into believing the garden really should look good 365 days of the year.

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  6. Kris, your garden looks like a plant collector's dream! I am always amazed at the variety of plants you have, and yet you combine them artfully so as to create a cohesive whole. So sad about the butterfly, but butterflies do have short lifespans; at least it spent its final hours in a beautiful garden! But very happy the hummingbird was OK!

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    1. I understand that there are birds that will eat Monarchs despite the poisons in the milkweed they consume but, except for the torn wing, there was no evidence anything tried to eat it so perhaps it did succumb to natural causes.

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  7. I have had the same thing at my house with a very large square bay window which means the birds mistakenly think they can fly straight through it. I added the clear, flexible LED lights (these are sold by the roll) and it has stopped all of the birds as, during the day, even though it's clear it looks like a snake.

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    1. Thanks for the tip Matt. I haven't seen LED lights sold that way as a deterrent but I'll check in with the local wild bird supply store.

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    2. I actually bought them as plain white Christmas lights (!) from one of those large box-store hardware shops for about $9.95 - so they should be available from Lowes or Home Depot, but ever since I put them up, I went from a number of bird strikes a week to none for over a month, Matt

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  8. Although I love flowers, there's something special about a pleasing combination of foliage. You've succeeded here in creating that special feeling. -Jean

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    1. Thanks Jean. I have some difficulty keeping my collector tendencies in check but I'm working on that - I'd like my garden to be a cohesive composition that flows from one area to the next (albeit with lots and lots of different plants).

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  9. I love how you have used Pelargonium as ground-cover, as this is a plant that is considered a tender plant here it is more usually seen in pots that can be put somewhere protected in winter. However they are very easy to reproduce from cuttings which grow reasonably quickly I think I might try to plant some out in spring just to see how they look, thanks for the idea.

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    1. The peppermint Pelargonium does reproduce easily - I've started many of mine by just rooting cuttings in water. Here, they definitely do best in partial sun - full sun, like full shade, slows their growth.

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  10. Some very nice combos - the grasses in particular in the first shot are stunning. Poor Monarch - I hate finding a sickly critter in the garden. Like your hummer, the birds do similar here. In fact, I've got a resident Robin that sees his reflection in one of the side windows and he constantly throws himself at it. I'm sure I'll find him stone dead one of these days!

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    1. I was surprised to have a hummingbird hit the window as they appear to understand windows better than the other birds. They've never hit the window on the east side of the house next to their feeder, even when chasing one another. Perhaps there are deceptive reflections from the windows on the south side, which is where almost all of the bird strikes occur.

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  11. Your design with the foliage is very inspiring, Kris! At this stage, I am having trouble even visualizing how things will look once they get large enough to make a solid flow through the bed... I will have to keep watching yours for encouragement. Love the grasses in the side bed, and the combination of aeonium with thyme is super! Am I seeing phormium in photo #2? Thanks also for mentioning the Arthropodium cirratum; I'm not familiar with it - and probably need to create a little shade if I'm going to try it ;)
    Hanging something in the window can help the birds navigate the danger - not always, but we found it did help quite a bit.

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    1. There are 2 Phormium 'Amazing Red' in this bed (as well as one in the adjoining bed that flows into it). You can see the other one in the first photo, although it blends into the Agonis behind it to some degree. Arthropodium cirratum is a great plant but it definitely does better in partial shade in hot climates.

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  12. I love your use of foliage. It all looks so beautifully lush. So glad the little humming bird survived.

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    1. Unlike my main backyard border, this bed has filled in relatively well, although I did have some raccoon problems in the area adjoining the flagstone path. Hopefully, once the groundcover Grevillea and the succulents fill in, the raccoons will go elsewhere (preferably to another neighborhood).

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