Friday, March 29, 2019

Foliage: Lost among the flowers?

In early Spring even the most foliage-focused gardeners I know can be distracted by the colorful blooms that take the stage by storm.  For someone like me who's a bit flower-obsessed to begin with, it can be difficult to even see the foliage for the flowers.  I recently took time to survey the foliage in my garden in a effort to balance my outlook.  I won't share every one of my foliage stand-outs (I covered many of these back in late December), just those that grabbed my attention for one reason or another this month.

The first one is a new introduction to my garden.

This is Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum' (aka Golden Full Moon Maple), a dwarf Japanese maple I picked up at my local garden center in late February.  It reportedly has requirements similar to other Japanese maples; however, I belatedly discovered that my Sunset Western Garden Book doesn't recommend this species for my area.  So far, it's doing alright in a protected area with morning sun exposure.  I'm crossing my fingers that it'll survive our summer.


As usual, many of my top foliage picks are succulents.

I thought all the Crassula I planted here next to the Aeonium arboreum was C. pubescens radicans but only some of it's developed that variety's characteristic deep red color.  I like the mix of colors in any case.

I grow a lot of Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi'.  Last year, I added a variety called 'Kiwi Verde'.  I initially considered it 'Kiwi's' duller cousin but I've grown fond of it.  While it doesn't have the pronounced variegation 'Kiwi' is known for, the rosettes still develop attractive red edges and it's an even more robust grower.

Agave 'Blue Flame'  is making quite a statement in my south-side succulent bed this year

A couple of months ago, I added Aeonium 'Zwartkop' to embellish these 'Blue Glow' Agaves but  Lotus bethelotii 'Amazon Sunset' provides a nice accent too

Albuca spiralis 'Frizzle Sizzle' has emerged from its long underground nap


A variety of shrubs also caught my eye.

This is Artemisia californica, a California native as the name suggests.  It looked sad after summer's intense heat and I cut my 2 shrubs back hard.  They're looking great now.

Corokia x virgata 'Sunsplash' adds a subtle note of variegation to this bed in my front garden

Melianthus major has sprung back after I cut it nearly to the ground.  It provides a handsome contrast to Leucadendron 'Jester' and Phormium 'Amazing Red' here.

This is a plant I'd all but forgotten about until I cut back the ornamental grass that had threatened to envelop it.  It's Ochna serrulata, aka Mickey Mouse Bush.  I planted it in November 2014 and, even now, it's only a foot tall at best.  It's supposed to reach 8 feet in height at maturity but it certainly seems to be making a slow start.  It's an interesting plant, though, so I'll give it more time.

This is Pelargonium cucullatum 'Flore Plenum', possibly the most vigorous Pelargonium I've ever grown.  It produces pretty flowers but it's the foliage that originally attracted me.  Despite it's crinkly leaves, it's almost silky to the touch and it looks great when backlit.


I'll close with a succulent combination I'm particularly pleased with at the moment.

Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' and Hesperaloe parviflora make a happy combination


That's it for me this week.  Wherever you are, I hope you're treated to a warm, pleasant, sunny weekend.


All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

16 comments:

  1. It does feel strange to see a post from you that isn't chock full of flowers. I hope the Japanese maple grows well for you. It may require careful monitoring and might want more water than you're used to giving plants. The only Japanese maple that I planted a few years ago died one week in summer when it got hot and I forgot to check on it.

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    1. I've got 2 Acer palmatum, both growing in similar situations, protected to a large extent from the intense sun and wind I hold responsible for killing the other one I tried to grow here. However, this is the first one I've grown of this particular species. The new one is in an irrigated area, which I generally pass at least once a day, not that I'm incapable of turning a blind eye on occasion!

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  2. I love Japanese maples, I hope yours does well for you. The Melianthus photo with all its color and texture from foreground to background is splendid!

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    1. That Melianthus has been very rewarding. I largely ignore it most of the year, cut it back hard in the winter and, after a month or so, it springs back.

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  3. My Japanese maple is, thoughtful. I battle to prune it to a happy shape. Yours looks as if it has started right.

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    1. Luckily for me, this maple seems to develop a rounded shape naturally, Diana.

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  4. Oh that last photo is a winner! As is your Agave 'Blue Flame' and the trio of ‘Blue Glow’... you do foliage very well!

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    1. Many of my favorite foliage plants also bloom but I'm really hoping the Agaves don't go that route anytime soon!

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  5. The Albuca spiralis is fascinating Kris, and seeing your Lotus in the background of your Agaves reminds me that I planted one here, but it succumbed to the frost last winter. Yours is so bright. I have a maple in my garden but it’s leaves become crispy each summer and I never get the colourful display that I would love to see. Yet another bad choice on my part! The leaves in your garden are just as fascinating as your flowers.

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    1. Placing the maples (I now have 3) in spots protected from the strong afternoon sun and wind is critical here, Jane. Even so, the leaves can get a but crispy by late summer.

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  6. Now this is a coincidence - a couple of days ago, I was making a list of plants for an upcoming nursery trip. I was doing an online search for Japanese maple varieties to replace an ash that we have to remove this year (due to the ash borer). I decided on Autumn Moon because of the beautiful leaf shape - which I recognized immediately in your first photo. I'm so looking forward to getting it into my garden. I have my fingers crossed for you too!

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    1. May we both enjoy the luscious maple in our respective - and very different - environments, Margaret!

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  7. Wow, it's beautiful!
    Take it out here in Brazil now that are getting big succulents.
    But most people still prefer to plant in pots. Per
    here it is not very common to have only succulent gardens.
    Your garden is beautiful, I love it when you show us.
    So I have the opportunity to know more plants of your country.
    Have a good entry for the month of April.

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    1. A lot of what I grow actually comes from other countries, Janicce. Coastal Southern California has a Mediterranean climate (wet winters and hot dry summers) so plants that come from other Mediterranean climates do well here.

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  8. Sorry for the translation! it's not very good.

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    1. Do not worry about it, Janicce. I use Google Translate myself and I know it has real limitations!

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