Friday, March 27, 2020

Focusing on foliage

Despite my flower fixation, I've been making an effort to focus more attention on foliage over the last few years.  In Spring, it's easy to ignore foliage altogether as there's always another flower making an appearance but during the last couple of weeks (when I've had so much unexpected time at home!) I've paid more attention to the foliage in my garden.  Here are some of the plants that have stood out:

I featured the Cordyline 'Can Can' shown in the background here in my February foliage post but the focal point of this photo is Abelia x grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope'.  I cut this particular specimen back harder than I usually do and it's responded by coming back as a very tidy mound.

I have 3 Japanese maples but this dwarf variety, Acer palmatium "Mikawa Yatsubusa', is the first of these to leaf out

This Aeonium arboreum 'Velour' forms large ruby-tipped rosettes

I added 2 drought-tolerant Astelia 'Silver Shadow' to my back garden in February in the hope that they'll survive in this particularly dry area

I seem to have become a Begonia collector.  From left to right in my shade house I have: Begonia 'Champagne Bubbles', 'B. Escargot', and what I think may be B. rhizomatous 'Nautilus Lilac'.

Several specimens of Calliandra haematocephala (aka pink powder puff bush) came with the garden as foundation plants.  As such, they get sheared several times a year to keep them from spilling into walkways.  However, as you can see here, their fresh new foliage is very attractive when the plant's actually allowed to do its thing.

This isn't the flashiest Hebe in my collection and I value it mostly for the flowers but Hebe 'Wiri Blush' holds up better than most members of this genus in my garden and flaunts touches of red in the undersides of its glossy leaves

I've allowed this grass to spread in one area of my garden in the hope that I've correctly identified the seedlings as Lagurus ovatus (aka bunny tail grass).  If I'm wrong I'm going to be very unhappy in a couple of months.

This small shrub is one I routinely forget about because it's grown so slowly and tends to get hidden underneath surrounding plants when they flush out.  It's Ochna serrulata, a South African shrub commonly known as the Mickey Mouse plant because its black berries and red sepals are said to resemble Mickey's face.  Although the plant's been in my garden for 5 years, I've yet to see its flowers or its berries.

This is the foliage of Itoh peony 'Keiko'.  Planted in 2013, its foliage appears regularly but it has yet to flower for me.

This moss-like plant is Scleranthus biflorus, aka Australian astroturf.  I planted 3 of these clumps near the Astelia shown earlier because it's supposed to get by with little water once established and spread as much as 3 feet while maintaining a very low profile.  We shall see if it lives up to its reputation.


That's my wrap-up for this week's blog posts.  Be sure to give your foliage some attention while you're admiring your Spring flowers!


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

24 comments:

  1. My experience Scleranthus biflorus prefers fairly moist soil and cooler temperatures or at least no reflected heat. My two died, rapidly in a dry place, eventually, given some water. Of course YMMV.

    "Found in Alpine to sub Alpine areas from Tasmania, through Victoria, to New south Wales"

    I love that Abelia. So easy, so brightly cheerful. And the 'Escargot', a garden "snail" that doesn't need squashing!

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    1. I vaguely recall trying Scleranthus at some point in the past without success, HB, so this experiment may end as you've described. We shall see...

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  2. Must be a maturing gardener thing because I look for plants with really interesting foliage now more so than flowers. The Abelia and the Aeonium are gorgeous. The most common reason peony's don't bloom is they are planted too deeply. Might be worth checking out.

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    1. Peonies aren't generally happy here, Elaine. According to the Sunset Western Garden Book, I'm well outside the range for both herbaceous and intersectional peonies and even slightly outside the range specified for tree peonies. However, I got a tree peony to bloom twice in my former garden after a 5-year wait so I'm giving this Itoh peony a little more rope. It has about a year more to go before I dig it up.

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  3. I love your begonia collection. I had Escargot for some time before it died on me. I think I have seen the other two before. That Abelia is gorgeous. I have a variegated Weigela that looks a lot like that only I let mine sprawl. I can't wait to see more foliage here. It won't be long if it stays this warm. Have a great weekend.

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    1. I've got a few 'Kaleidoscope' Abelias I've led sprawl here, Lisa. As this one demonstrates how well they'll respond to a good haircut, I should probably go after the rest of them.

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  4. P.S. I love that moss like plant you have there. It wouldn't live here or I would give it a try.

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    1. As HB indicated, it may not make it here either, Lisa.

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  5. Everywhere one looks in your garden, there is something precious and beautiful.
    Rex hybrids are amazing! I'd be a begonia collector if I had conditions they liked.

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    1. The lath/shade house was the ticket in growing the Rex Begonias here, Eliza. I still manage to kill them here or there, though.

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  6. As usual, it all looks good, Kris. But oh my gosh, the leaves on your Kaleidoscope abelia are much heftier looking than the ones on mine. I'm a little envious.

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    1. I tell you, Barbara, that Abelia liked being cut back! My others look shabby by comparison.

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  7. Some luscious foliage! Your begonias are fabulous; I can see it would be easy to accidentally become a collector. ;-)
    The Scleranthus looks like an exciting addition.
    Here the best foliage is coming from Heuchera, rather to my surprise.

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    1. Some plants just find their sweet spot to thrive, Amy. I wish I had luck with Heuchera. They don't generally last long here.

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  8. Despite your flower fixation you do foliage very well!

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    1. Thank you, Loree. Bloggers like you have has an impact on me it appears ;)

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  9. Wonderful photos! The sun is finally shining here in Wales (after such a rough start to the year).

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    1. I'm sure you're enjoying the weather, if not necessarily the circumstances, Nikki.

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  10. I have kaleidoscope, too. :o) Everything looks great! I love my virtual walks through your garden because most of the plants don't grow here. My garden is just now waking up and my huge pink cherry tree will be blooming any second! Woohoo!

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    1. Spring usually kicks in very early here, Tammy. There were signs of it in February when we had temperatures in the low 70s at times but we got colder again this month, which slowed things a bit. You may catch up with us soon!

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  11. Begonias are addictive. Mine lies in waiting to trap us as we step out the door.
    My barely surviving Japanese maple might be happier in the ground, instead of a pot?

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    1. Although mine is planted in the ground, this particular Japanese maple ('Mikawa Yatsubusa') is reportedly often used as a bonsai subject so it might actually be fine in a pot! Maybe you could to swap yours out for a dwarf variety.

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  12. You have as many varieties of foliage as you do flowers. It is lovely how it all adds to the finished look of the garden. But what I like most are those little white and pink daisies in the background. They look like very sweet and precious little things.

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    1. The pink and white daisies are Ergeron karvinsianus, aka Santa Barbara daisies. They've actually more of a weed here, Cindy, but one most of us willingly share our gardens with because they're pretty, drought-tolerant and resilient.

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