Saturday, March 17, 2018

Foliage Follow-up - Standouts and Hidden Treasures

Rain and other demands on my time delayed my Foliage Follow-up post this month.  As early spring brings new blooms every day, it's also easy to lose track of the foliage for the flowers.  But, despite my seeming obsession with floral color, my garden actually has its share of attractive foliage.  I'll share a few of the standouts today, along with some plants my camera's missed in the past.

I love this Echium webbii both in and out of bloom.  In bloom, it looks like a dwarf version of E. fastuosum 'Pride of Madeira'.  Even though it's less flashy than the variegated 'Star of Madeira', its graceful form always draws my eye.

On the smaller end of the plant spectrum, this Abelia x grandflora 'Confetti' also earned my admiration this month.  Unlike most of my other Abelia, which throw out tall gangly branches on a haphazard basis, this one continues to form a nice neat clump.

This graceful Agave desmetiana 'Variegata', nicely framed by the bronzy new foliage of the Xylosma congestum behind it, also drew my eye

It looks great when viewed from the street too


After taking the first photo of the Agave desmettana shown above, I panned my camera further along the same bed and captured one of my favorite Agaves half-hidden from view.

Viewed from the back side of the street-facing succulent bed, this Agave 'Blue Glow' is partially screened by stems of the restio planted behind it.  The restio was sold to me years ago as the dwarf Chondropetalum tectorum (aka small cape rush) but, as explained in this article, it's probably C. elephantinum.

Here's another view from the street.  There are actually 3 'Blue Glow' Agaves in front of the restio.


I've pondered the fate of that restio many times, but it took years to become established and I lost 3 other specimens in the time that took that one to reach this point so it's going to stay.  Perhaps the 'Blue Glow' Agaves beneath its skirt will grow large enough to stand out on their own but, eventually, they'll bloom and die and I can replace them with something more appropriate in that spot.

You may remember that I faced a similar issue with out-of-control 'Cousin Itt' Acacias in my back garden (addressed in my October Foliage Follow-up post).  As mentioned in November's Foliage Follow-up, I moved the succulents swamped by the Acacias and planted several Lotus bethelotii to fill in as a groundcover in front of the Acacias.  The Lotus has always been a fast grower, with aggressive tendencies of its own, so I was perplexed by the failure of these plants to spread.  It soon became obvious that something was eating the infant plants as one after another virtually disappeared.  Disappearances and evidence of persistent nibbling occurred elsewhere in my garden too.  Insects?  Squirrels?  Birds?  I considered all of them.  Earlier this week, the culprit finally revealed itself.

Many of you may have immediately identified a bunny as the culprit but, although I know there are plenty of rabbits in a park a mile away, I've never seen any here.  I assumed they either had a territorial arrangement with the raccoons and skunks or their range was constrained by the coyotes.

My husband pulled video of the rabbit bouncing around our back garden in the early evening before my paparazzi effort sent it hopping.   Three screen shots are shown above.  Maybe the rabbits have expanded their range as more and more of my neighbors bring their dogs in at night due to the intensifying concerns about coyote attacks on pets. 


I'd already caged some of my plants and now the Lotus are covered too.

The bunny apparently loves the fresh foliage of Orlaya grandiflora (aka Minoan Lace).  A few of the plants completely disappeared overnight.  Caged, this one is now recovering.

I'm using empty flats turned upside-down to protect the Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset'.  They're held down with landscaping pins to prevent the bunny from moving them.  Why the bunny ignores the rampant Lotus on the other side of the path is a mystery.


Meanwhile, I've discovered that 'Cousin Itt' is now enveloping plants on the back side of that bed too.

Maybe the Duranta repens 'Gold Mound' can survive 'Cousin Itt's' embrace but, if it can't, it's not a big loss.


Oh well.  Visit Pam at Digging for more Foliage Follow-up posts.  Have a great weekend!


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

22 comments:

  1. Oh no, not bunnies! For the first couple of years we were here I didn’t see one. Then one. Now they are everywhere and given that it is Spring (allegedly, it is still snowing) I shall soon be out with the fortifications and the place will once again resemble Chicken Wire World. It is not a club I welcome you to.

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    1. Despite my problems with the raccoons, I've always counted myself lucky not to have bunnies, Jessica. I figured that, in this one thing, the ecosystem was tipped in my favor. Well, apparently, it's just shifted...

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  2. Hello Kris, I have been following your blog for a few weeks and have really enjoyed seeing photos of your garden. I’m in Australia and grow similar plants to you, although I suspect I have to be careful to choose more frost hardy ones than you do as we can have heavy frost here. We don’t have such a problem with animals though- I have a suburban garden. I loved the post about the squirrel on the bird feeder!

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    1. Nice to meet you, Jane! My coastal Southern California area has a Mediterranean climate like parts of Australia so I take advantage of many Australian plants. We're lucky to be frost-free here. My area would be considered semi-rural, at least by local standards, but the huge city of Los Angeles surrounds us. Still, the members of the local wildlife community pay regular visits. Raccoons and coyotes are the most troublesome but we even get the occasional wild peacock.

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  3. Hi Kris, So cute but so hungry bunnies definitely not wanted in our gardens. Hope it realizes you're onto it and will find another dinner table. I love Echiums and have a few in my garden but webbii is new to me. It does seem neater than E. candicans, the one that is common here. Happy spring. It's not going to be a good autumn for me unless we get some decent rain soon.

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    1. Echium webii is a relatively new offering from a mail order nursery in Northern California, Sue. I've never seen it offered anywhere else but I gather that the species hails from the Canary Islands.

      I can sympathize on the rain issue. Winter is our one and only real rainy season and, until this month, we'd had almost none. Even though we've had a few decent storms the last 2 weeks, we're not going to make up the difference and this season will go down as one of the driest on record and may even set a new record. I hope your story isn't as bleak.

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    2. I'm afraid it is. Also terrible bushfires in Victoria in the last few days. Canary Islands, California and Melbourne must share climate.

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    3. What the weather forecasters here call "a ridiculously resilient ridge" (of high pressure air) seems to be the main culprit preventing rain from moving into Southern California. Of course, that seems to link back to the global warming problem.

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  4. Aaarrggh! Bunnies! I had bunnies in my garden in Massachusetts, and they were worse pests than the raccoons. So sorry you have to deal with them. Nice shots of the Agave desmettiana!

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    1. I'd like to think the bunny's appearance is a fluke but unfortunately it's clear he and probably his pals have been visiting for 3-4 months now.

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  5. I absolutely love the photos with the Agave desmettiana, stunning! As is the Restio. Darn bunnies, I am sorry...

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    1. I'm hoping that the bunnies will continue to restrict their appetites to fresh young foliage as it appears they've been doing (given the fact they ignore the mature Lotus plants just feet away from the new ones). I can protect plants during their infancy but I don't want to have to cage off large sections of the garden. Ugh!

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  6. Your variegated agave is stunning. We saw a bunny a couple times last year and then it just vanished. However, it wasn't too long after we noticed the Great Horned Owl that patrolled the meadow behind our house. Kinda sorry about the bunny but knowing owls eat scorpions has made our owl into a super hero for us. Your garden areas are amazing. I was born in LA and received my undergrad degree at UC Santa Barbara. I love seeing glimpses of southern California through your photography.

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    1. Well, hey there fellow Gaucho! I also did my undergrad degree at UCSB, slc. I haven't heard owls in the vicinity of late but they're present in the area, as are hawks and coyotes, so perhaps they'll soon send the bunny and his friends packing.

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  7. Hi Kris. Your foliage combinations are indeed stunning and I especially like your Agave and Echium webbii. It is gorgeous even without the blooms. Now that you have captured the bunnies on video and covered your plants, hopefully they will be nice and move along!

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    1. I don't want to go all Mr. McGregor on the bunnies but I do hope that whatever balance of nature previously kept them out of my garden is soon restored.

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  8. Beautiful foliage - I esp. love the Agave and Firesticks together. Rabbits can be such a scourge in the garden! Last summer they ate every single larkspur I had, as well as Malva Zebrina, which self-sow rampantly, so that wasn't as bad - still so discouraging. Wren was no help, her investigations only caused more damage. More hawks and fox needed, me thinks!

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    1. Larkspur too! My bunny hasn't found that (yet), even though I'm now guessing he was responsible for consuming the nearby borage foliage. The coyotes are showing up in my garden more than ever before so there's probably a rabbit connection there too.

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  9. Wow wanna stuffed beautiful flowerbeds.
    Rabbits are not fun visitors even though they are cute.
    Mariana

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    1. No, I was not happy to see the rabbit at all, Mariana.

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  10. There is always something to thwart us in the garden. I was as surprised as you by the rabbit. I count myself lucky that my garden is fenced against most invading animals.

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    1. One of the things that surprised me when we moved here, Christina, was how few fences there are. Hedges just don't offer the same degree of protection. Even fences would keep the raccoons out (they're great climbers) but it would be nice if we could at least keep the coyotes at bay.

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