Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Foliage Follow-up: Fresh Spring Growth

In yesterday's Bloom Day post I bemoaned  the fact that, in spring at least, my garden seems out of balance, with flowers dominating the scene.  That doesn't mean I don't have a lot of foliage plants.  I have 29 trees by my current count and the entire property is surrounded by hedges of various kinds.  While I've taken out all of the lawn, I've added ornamental grasses as well as creeping thyme throughout the garden as ground cover.  And do we even need to discuss my Leucadendron collection?!  In summer, when the heat is on and flowers are in retreat, foliage plays a more dominant role, even if the floral elements demand the central focus in spring.

But, even in spring, some foliage plants command attention.  The Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid' I added in the middle of the backyard border last March is one of those plants.  This shrub, purchased in a 1-gallon container to fill the spot vacated by a tall peppermint willow (removed to address a neighbor's complaint with obstruction of her view of the harbor), was probably one foot tall when I planted it but it's already 4 feet tall.  It does bloom but, at the moment, its the fresh new foliage that caught my eye.

The new silvery orange-toned foliage is especially good-looking when viewed from the dirt path behind the backyard border

But the shrub also looks good when viewed from the flagstone path that bi-sects the backyard


The Callistemon isn't the only foliage plant with orange-tinged spring foliage.

This Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' enjoys a good deal of shade in its spot in the vegetable garden alongside the garage 

The Calliandra haematocephala produces these flushes of new foliage periodically throughout the year

While my Itoh peony (Paeonia Itoh hybrid 'Keiko'), has refused to rebloom since I planted it in 2013, it does produce pretty foliage in the spring


Other notable foliage this month includes:

Abelia x grandiflora 'Hopley's', which has formed a handsome clump since I planted it in October 2012

Dwarf Acer palmatum 'Mikawa Yatsubusa', which leafed out seemingly overnight

Melianthus major, which I was forced to cut back severely after some creature (I'm blaming the raccoon) badly damaged its main branches, probably when climbing down the Arbutus above it

What I think is Persimmon 'Hachiya', now producing glossy new leaves

The 'Red Flame' seedless grape


I'll end this month's Foliage Follow-up with a different kind of green plant, a spiny hedgehog cactus.

A friend passed this Echinopsis oxygona on to me in December 2014 with just 4 columnar segments.  It's developed all those rounded segments since then and is showing signs that it may even bloom this year.


For views of more flashy foliage, visit Pam, the host of Foliage Follow-up, at Digging.


All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

27 comments:

  1. Melianthus thrives on being cut back hard (bit by bit, like the one third rule for roses). It will bounce back from being cut down by frost, they say.

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    1. I'd heard that about Melianthus. In this case, I didn't have much choice - one large stem of the plant had been broken nearly to the ground.

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  2. Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid': Thank you for giving me a new plant crush :-). I think it looks much more refined than the common 'Little John'.

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    1. I considered a lot of different options before selecting that Callistemon for the empty spot in my border, Gerhard. I'm not at all fond of the red-flowered Callistemons, probably because I saw them planted in every yard in my neighborhood and beyond growing up. My 'Cane's Hybrid' is still young but it's vigorous and has all the markings of a great plant. I've seen impressive photos of it in bloom too but, if it did nothing more than produce a few flowers like it did last year in my garden, I'd still love it.

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  3. Love all the orange tinted foliage, Kris - that Callistemon is so pretty! My Melianthys looks a bit ratty in places. Good to know that it bounces back from a little pruning.

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    1. I had another Melianthus planted in full sun here at one point, Anna, and it always looked ratty. Perhaps things would have improved as it matured but I gave up on it. The one in my photo receives partial shade and has done much better.

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  4. I was surprised to see feathery orange blooms on your Callistemon - until I read on LOL! But the new growth really is lovely enough on its own account.

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    1. The Callistemon does produce flowers, Amy, but they're a peachy pink color. They have the bottle-brush shape characteristic of Callistemons, although the flowers are narrower than those of the standard red-flowering species.

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  5. I love the texture of the Melianthus. Such a beautiful choice of plants you have!
    I read your back posts about the complaining neighbor - och, what a PITA. She probably helped draft the ordinance back in '89! Not much you can do about it, and I think you did opt for the path of least resistance. Stressful, but one must get on with life and I think the Callistemon is a sweet consolation. :)

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    1. Sadly, I knew nothing of the local "view conservation" ordinance before we moved in - whether or not it would have affected our purchase decision is hard to say but the trees surrounding the house and the opportunity to garden on a large scale that wasn't possible with the postage stamp-sized plot I formerly had was one of the main drivers in buying this property (at least for me). It's hard not to take these things personally but this neighbor is well known in the hood for threats based on the ordinance and some people here said I should have pushed back harder. Frankly, in a period of severe drought, hacking trees back, not to speak of taking them out, is almost unconscionable. (Australia planted more trees during its sever drought!) I know other communities have pushed the state to override local ordinances that run counter to the state's interest in responsible drought and green-space management so, if pushed to remove yet more mature trees, I may escalate the issue. Preventing the construction of multi-story mega-mansions is one thing but cutting down trees that we may be unable to replace is something else. Rant concluded ;)

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    2. Perhaps you could approach the town council to see what is required (usually canvassing for signatures) to update the ordinance to reflect current, ongoing drought conditions. Maybe a few neighbors might we willing to join your cause. Sounds like preemptive action might be necessary before she makes her next strike.

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  6. Ooh, you must update us on those cactus blooms! Your melianthus is looking better than mine. Mum grew one for me from a cutting, and it's slowwwwly coming along now that it's in the ground. It survived summer, so that's got to be a good sign, right? Haha, the raccoons just can't seem to leave you and your garden alone.

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    1. You can bet I'll post photos if the cactus blooms, Amy. I had a second Melianthus in full sun at one point but it really struggled and I finally put it out of its misery - the one I have left seems to like its partial shade location.

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  7. 29 trees!?! OMG. I knew your lot was big but WOW. That Callistemon is lovely, fabulous color!

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    1. Some of them are small trees...The lot is just over half an acre, big by LA standards but not by comparison to a lot of areas of the country. I always used to say I wanted 2 acres but what I've got is about as much as I can handle.

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  8. So much beautiful spring foliage. It's always a joy to see your garden!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoy your virtual visits to my garden as I enjoy my visits to yours, Peter!

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  9. Your foliage is just a stunning as your flowers Kris; you've chosen them all very well. I've sown Melianthus this year and yesterday I potted the seedlings into small pots, I'm hoping they will be large enough to go into the garden in autumn.

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    1. I hope your Melianthus flourishes, Christina. Those serrated, pleated leaves have a worthy place in the garden.

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  10. Lovely foliage, Kris. Don't you love the colors on that Hopley's abelia? I have several of them and use them for clients all the time. I'd love to have a melianthus - that's one of the plants I saw when we were there and really wanted. But their size and warnings of their invasiveness stopped me from getting one to plant here.

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    1. That Abelia took its time to gain girth in a relatively shady area of my garden but it really pops now, Diana. I wish I'd planted more a few years ago! Luckily for me, the Melianthus isn't invasive here, although it also seems far less vigorous than those grown in the PNW.

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  11. Love all the foliage! My persimmons and the red-leafed grape I planted in fall have yet to leaf out. I've noticed the buds starting to swell, though. I think this is the year I need to plant Melianthus major somewhere. It seems like I see it in everyone's garden but mine.

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    1. Melianthus seems to love the PNW, Evan, so it's definitely worth trying in your garden. It struggled in full day sun here during the hot summer months so mine gets some shade.

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  12. It seems Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid' was a happy solution to your neighbor's problem. I love seeing all the fresh new foliage. You are well ahead of me there, however. My Japanese maples are just now putting out leaf buds.

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    1. Spring usually comes early for us but then we don't get much of a winter to speak of either.

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  13. Fresh spring foliage is just as pretty as flowers and you have a lot of beautiful examples! The Callistenon is really striking.

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