Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Foliage Follow-up: Stars that get no respect

For this month's Foliage Follow-up, I found myself focusing on plants that don't get the respect they deserve.  They're not new and they're not flashy but they require little to no care to look good, which counts for a lot.

While working in my front garden, my eye was repeatedly drawn to the hedge that lines the right side of our house under the shade of the Magnolia tree.  I inherited the Pittosporum tobira 'Variegatum' shrubs that make up the hedge.  They've been sheared in a box shape by gardeners, probably for a decade or more.  I've begun cutting out some of the dead growth in the center in an effort to revitalize them.  Trachelospermum jasminoides (aka Star Jasmine), another commonplace plant, grows at the base of the hedge.  I added Festuca 'Siskiyou Blue' in front of the Trachelospermum earlier this year when I realized that the grass was struggling in its former full sun setting.  The three plant species don't produce an exciting vignette but they provide a nice place to rest the eye.



To the right of the hedge is a Duranta erecta I've featured before.  It was sold to me as 'Gold Mound' but as it's easily 4 feet tall, it doesn't fit the specs for that plant.  Whatever form of Duranta it is, its bright chartreuse color grabs attention without overwhelming its neighbors.



Another plant I've come to admire is Senecio vitalis 'Serpent'.  A friend gave me a clump of this succulent plant soon after I moved in.  I stuck it into the ground, like the Aeonium arboreum she also gave me, and the plant thrived with almost no attention.  Every once in awhile, I cut off a piece and stick it somewhere else.  It never complains.



And, speaking of Aeonium arboreum, I planted some of it in a hanging planter a couple of months ago.  The entire planter was filled with bits and pieces of succulents collected from other areas of the garden.  I recently added a Crassula coccinea 'Campfire' as its centerpiece.  For a planter constructed mostly of leftovers, I think it's looking pretty good too.



Foliage follow-up is the brainchild of Pam at Digging.  Visit her to see what foliage is catching her eye and that of other gardeners this month.


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

22 comments:

  1. I'll gently beg to differ about the first vignette you offer. I think the color and foliage combination is pretty interesting and I like the curve of the path in front - it really works! Love the planter as well. If you keep putting together such stunning "Monday Vase" arrangements with succulents I'm betting you'll be filling more of those as the weeks go by. A series of them, hanging could be stunning!

    Happy halfway to relief, yes? Hopefully you'll get more rain soon to go along with the humidity!

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    1. Ugh! The temps weren't bad today but the humidity was awful. California's supposed to be the land of "dry" heat.

      I'd have more hanging planters if they weren't so bloody expensive, Deb! I got that one at reduced cost as it was classified as imperfect. I should have ordered more "imperfect" planters while they were available.

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  2. You really have to put on your paradigm shift hat when the common plants come into play don't you ? I' distinctly remember an installation at the the SF Garden Show back in the Cow Palace glory days , that used lots of really common landscape shrubs, but the garden was fantastic because of the way they had been combined.I've never forgotten that lesson in letting go of plant snobbery-that and all the Agapanthus in Dan Hinkleys garden !

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    1. I've been guilty of plant snobbery in the past, Kathy. I still remember, with some chagrin, referring to plants a friend (and mentor!) described as "pedestrian." I didn't mean to be condescending at the time but I was and I think/hope I've learned my lesson. All plants should be seen and evaluated in context.

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  3. I love your pictures! I wish senecio could make it through the Arizona summer heat. I've been reading your blog and really enjoy seeing what you're doing. If you're late to the garden party, I barely made it I'm so late. Blogs like yours really enthuse me and my gardening.

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    1. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog, Brian. Reading garden blogs greatly expanded my frame of reference, as well as my community of supportive gardeners (aka enablers). As tough as I think gardening is in my area, you've got it tougher still in Arizona's desert conditions.

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  4. The first combination is lovely but how long have the Trachelospermum been in the ground? Here they can easily grow up the side of a building and spread 5 metres with no problem. I'm going to use them to form a hedge around my new secret garden.

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    1. I didn't put the plants in so I can only guess how long they've been there, Christina, but it's probably somewhere between 6 and 10 years anyway. The vines do try to snake around, including moving up through the Pittosporum hedge, but I just cut them back when they get out of control.

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  5. Of course, most of your common plants are uncommon elsewhere, like here in the PNW. That's an interesting Senecio. Love the leftover succulents in the hanging planter.

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    1. What's amazing to me, Alison, is that so many of the plants used here, like the Agaves, ARE common in the PNW (at least in certain gardens).

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  6. Eyes do need a place to rest. You gave mine a nice one there.

    I cannot access my email while my computer is being repaired, so any last minute change or cancellation for the event, comment on my blog or phone.

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    1. No changes are envisioned. I look forward to seeing you!

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  7. I really like the Pittosporum/Trachelospermum/Festuca combo. It is a lovely mix of colours. It is true that these background plants get overlooked, which is a shame as they are such hard-working elements in any garden!

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    1. Sometimes it's just too easy to overlook the solid performers when presented with the latest flash-in-the-pan celebrities, I guess. I'm talking about plants here (maybe).

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  8. It's important to give those under-appreciated stalwarts their due. I love your basket of leftovers. Those hoverdish planters are beautiful, but so expensive. I'll have to keep an eye out if more "imperfect" ones become available.

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    1. I count myself lucky to have caught one of those "imperfect" planters (at nearly 1/2 the price, as I recall). I felt as though I was taking a chance when I placed the order by mail but I was lucky - I couldn't find a single flaw in the product I received.

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  9. Now that was a gorgeous way to save your Festucas, Kris - really a great combination! And I love your succulent combo! I've been forced to adopt a totally different attitude about the "overused" and "old standby" plants here, since I'm (a) learning a whole new set of plants and (b) learning that if people are growing it here, that means that it can be grown here! Not that I don't like finding the unusual, but I don't always know the difference... ;-)

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    1. A little experimentation is always good but you're right that checking what's growing locally is the best way of discovering what's viable in your area. I'd always dismissed crape myrtles as prone to mildew here but there are beautiful (and apparently mildew-free) specimens growing just doors away.

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  10. I like your first grouping, Kris, such interesting greens together. The Duranta is so pretty and full. The Senecio is a great plant too, it reminds me how I used to cut off pieces of Jade plant and stick them around the garden in San Diego. I wish things were that easy up here. But I am trying to do some Sedum and Euphorbia cuttings over the winter to plant out next spring.

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    1. If you can offer the succulent cuttings adequate protection from the cold temperatures and wet conditions up there, Hannah, I'm sure they'll come through for you. I admit I've become spoiled by how easy most are to propagate here.

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  11. Ya gotta love plants that can tolerate your drought. They should be heralded in neon with trumpets blazing and fireworks. I'll take a tough, badass plant over a whiny wimp any day, no matter how pretty the bloom. :o)

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    1. I'm afraid I've been known to be a sucker for a handsome face, Tammy, but I'm working to overcome that failing.

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