Thursday, March 16, 2017

Plants with Great Foliage and Flowers (Foliage Follow-up)

Many times, spring peaks in March here.  As is the case this year, temperatures can take a dramatic upswing, causing everything to bloom seemingly at once.  Remarkably, this is when I most appreciate the foliage in my garden.  Foliage gives the eye a place to rest when brightly colored flowers all seem to scream for attention.  Foliage also gives the garden the structure it needs to ground all that floral chaos.

While I tend to think of plant selections in terms of foliage versus flowers, there are a large number of plants in my garden that offer both.  For this month's Foliage Follow-up post hosted by Pam at Digging, I thought I'd feature some of the foliage plants I treasure in my garden for also offering floral interest, albeit not during the early spring floral fest.

Arthropodium cirratum (aka Renga Lily) is a graceful foliage plant for dry shade areas.  It usually blooms in late spring/early summer, producing beautiful sprays of white flowers with yellow and purple stamens.

Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid' is glorious when it produces flushes of delicate coral-pink bottle-brush blooms at intervals during the course of the year but its vase-like structure and silvery new growth make it a standout any time

Crassula multicava (aka Fairy Crassula) is new to my garden but I've long admired the sprays of tiny flowers the plants produce in winter.  Here, the undersides of the leaves offer an echo of the Cuphea 'Starfire Pink''s flowers above.

Echium candicans 'Star of Madiera' is already getting ready to produce its blue bloom spires but its variegated foliage makes it a focal point in my garden all year

Pelargonium 'Oldbury Duet' offers much the same effect as Echium 'Star of Madiera' albeit on a smaller scale.  Its variegated foliage is very attractive but so are its maroon and pink flowers.

Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder' offers quilted green leaves with purple veins and underside color all year but in fall, when there's not much else in bloom here, it bears delicate lavender flowers

Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata' is a gorgeous, if short-lived, shrub with scented foliage that also flowers

I have LOTS of rosemary but Rosmarinus 'Gold Dust' (shown here in front of yellow-flowered Bulbine frutescens) is my favorite.  Its medium blue flowers are an added bonus.

I haven't actually seen Yucca 'Bright Star' bloom in my own garden but the flowers I've seen in photos are impressive


There's another group of foliage plants with flowers that I can take or leave.  The flowers are fine but, if the plants don't bloom, it's really not an issue in my view.

Clockwise from the upper left, this group includes: Melianthus major, which has never bloomed in my garden; Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi', which produces small flower stems, leading to the plant's decline; Abelia 'Kaleidoscope', better know for its bright variegated foliage than its white, bell-shaped flowers; Agave attenuata, which produces an impressive "foxtail" bloom when mature, then dies; Correa 'Wyn's Wonder' with tiny coral pink flowers that are often hidden by the foliage; Pelargonium peltatum (aka peppermint geranium), another plant producing flowers almost lost within the foliage; and the green and lemon-lime forms of Santolina virens, which produce small yellow button-like flowers


And finally, there are some foliage plants that I like best without their flowers.

From the left, these include: Aeonium arboreum, the bright yellow flowers of which can be more freaky than decorative; Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', which produces tiny pale-pink flowers that strike me as being at odds with the strong gold foliage; and Senecio vitalis, whose dusty white blooms I usually cut off when they appear


For a look at other plants offering fabulous foliage, visit Pam at Digging.



All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

26 comments:

  1. Wow! You've beautifully covered the foliage spectrum! I can grow some of these, but most I must admire right here.

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    1. Thanks Linda! After 6 years here, I think I'm finally getting a handle of what can handle the climate extremes here.

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  2. The idea of an Echium that large makes me weak in the knees, can't even begin to imagine. Oh and that Crassula...wow!

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    1. Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria has an Echium 3x larger so mine may fill our still further! I've embraced Echiums since moving here - I now have 5, albeit only 2 'Star of Madiera'.

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  3. Good point about foliage providing a rest for the eyes amid the frenzy of spring blooms. I LOVE that golden rosemary. And the bottlebrush tree is indeed very handsome, even when not in bloom. Pam/Digging: penick.net

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    1. 'Gold Dust' is a fabulous rosemary. The individual leaves are variegated, which is what gives the foliage its glow. Thanks for hosting Foliage Follow-up, Pam!

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  4. Geez, as if the profusion of flowers you always post isn't enough reason to be jealous of your garden. Now this! I have that same Echium, and it's getting pretty big, but it's in a pot, of course, and lost a lot of lower leaves last year and didn't flower. I'm really hoping it flowers this year.

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    1. My Echium dropped a lot of leaves at the end of last season too, Alison, but it came back quickly bigger and better than ever. My 2 'Star of Madiera' both have buds so I'm anticipating flowers within the next month of so.

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  5. Lots of foliage to admire. I love the color echo of the crassula and cuphea. And that Callistemon is beautiful! Seeing that big peppermint geranium makes me want to grow one this year, even though it isn't hardy. I love that scent!

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    1. The peppermint geranium is relatively easy to propagate from cuttings so maybe you can keep it going by getting those started in your greenhouse over the winter months, Evan.

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  6. I'm amazed you could take so many images without flowers this month Kris, after the bloomday post it seemed that every possible plant had put on a show of blooms; but joking aside, I agree that without the foliage even so many flowers wouldn't give of their best. You have some reals stars!

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    1. I had something of that same reaction myself when I considered prospects for a foliage follow-up post, Christina. At this time of year, it can be hard to see the foliage for all the flowers!

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  7. I'm waiting for the day when I have enough shade somewhere to plant Arthropodium... Thanks for featuring Callistemon "Cane's Hybrid" out of flower too, letting us see its beautiful form!
    BTW, what are Barleria seedlings like? I have something coming up in the right spot, but have realized I don't know what I'm looking for! X)

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    1. The Barleria seedlings produce small pleated leaves. If I can find any small seedlings somewhere in my garden, I'll take a photo and email it to you.

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  8. Oh I enjoyed gazing at your foliage plants just as much as your March blooms Kris. i'm off to investigate that plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder' to see if it would grow here but am not that optimistic :)

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    1. That Plectranthus would almost certainly have to be a greenhouse plant in your climate, Anna. It's a lovely thing - one of my all-time favorite plants.

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  9. I'll take interesting foliage over flowers any day. When my garden was mostly shade I got used to designing my gardens with foliage so much so that when I actually acquired some sunny spots, I didn't know what to do with them. Love Melianthus and Plectranthus even though they are annuals here.

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    1. My tiny old garden was mostly shade too, Sue, and, although I squeezed in flowers like begonias, true geraniums and fuchsias, I experienced a horticultural shock when we moved here. I got space, sun and more heat and wind than I'd dealt with before. Gardening here has been a real learning experience.

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  10. I wish we had the climate for Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira' all year round. It's a beautiful plant. I am with you on foliage and I am delighted to see the amazing range of shades of foliage in your garden!

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    1. I'm lucky to have inherited a good foliage foundation with the garden and I like to think I've only added to it since clearing out the thirsty lawn to make way for more drought tolerant plants.

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  11. Your foliage is as green as my envy. I've killed Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira' but the sight of yours makes me want to try again. Such a beautiful thing even when not in flower.

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    1. I always think I like that Echium best when it's not in flower but then I change my my when the flowers appear...

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  12. I keep seeing plectranthus in more and more gardens. Maybe my eyes are becoming more attuned to it? My mission is find some for my own garden. Needless to say it's not exactly common here. Ditto for Yucca 'Bright Star'.

    Thank you for once again serving up a visual wish list for me!

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    1. For years now (at least since I planted mine), Yucca 'Bright Star' has been available here only in 5-gallon containers - too rich for my taste! Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' is commonly available here but other varieties less so. I've had 'Zulu Wonder' forever, having brought it with me when we moved as a cutting, but I don't find it often in garden centers. Annie's carries several Plectranthus, albeit not P. ciliatus.

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  13. Lots of interesting foliage. I particularly love the Renga lily leaves they remind me of aspidistras. You forgot to include your Veltheimias. I have a Veltheimia bracteata in a pot inside and it has amazingly glossy leaves. I saw in your bloom day post that you have some.

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    1. The Veltheimia is another great example. However, in my garden, it's only visible for a few months each year - it drops out of sight when the temperatures go up.

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