Friday, February 12, 2021

Fabulous February Foliage

As the title of this post indicates, I do love alliteration.  But before spring formally arrives and flowers dominate the scene, February is a good time to take stock of the foliage plants that add so much to my garden.  This won't be a comprehensive review as I've skipped some of the major players that are at risk of overexposure after repeated inclusion in my posts, like Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'.  I should also note that many of the plants I've included here flower at some point during the year; however, I want to emphasize that these are plants that won a place in my garden in large part because of their foliage.

I'll start with those that shine in different shades of green.

Acanthus mollis was a major player in my former shady garden.  In contrast, the plants have struggled here, although I have at least three clumps like this one that appear in response to rain every year.  They usually fade away as the soil gets drier and our temperatures rise.  I only occasionally get flowers but I value those large leaves, which are relatively unusual in my climate.

I introduced Arthropodium cirratum (aka Renga Lily), a New Zealand native, to my garden in 2011 and it's proliferated, mostly through divisions of my original plants.  I've found it to be an excellent plant for use in dry shade.  The graceful foliage is evergreen and the flowers that appear in May are a plus.

I expect most people grow Echium webbii principally for its brilliant blue flowers but I'd grow this plant even if it didn't flower.  It has a beautiful shape (at least until it gets old and woody) and the foliage gives off a silvery-blue glint in the sun.

Next up are the standouts in shades of silver.

Centaurea 'Silver Feather' is another plant I'd grow even if it didn't flower.  I planted an excess of these in my back garden, underestimating their mature size but, positioned at appropriate distance from one another, they make a stunning statement in the garden.  One of my plants in the front garden died back but I rooted a cutting to fill the empty spot.

I wish these Helichrysum thianschanicum 'Icicles' didn't bloom.  After bloom, they looked misshapen.  I cut them back hard in late summer, not sure they'd survive, but I'm happy with how they look now.

Salvia canariensis var candidissima has fuzzy silvery-white foliage.  It produces interesting flowers in summer.

Variegated plants and those with unusual foliage color also play important roles.

I determined that, in my garden, Cordyline 'Can Can' is happier in a pot than in the ground.  The smaller plant is Cordyline terminalis 'Chocolate Queen', a recent mail order purchase from Little Prince of Oregon.

Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira' has great presence in my front garden in bloom and out.  It does get woody over time and in another year or so I expect I'll have to replace it.  I'll try taking cuttings this spring to get a replacement queued up.

Hebe 'Purple Shamrock' is a dwarf evergreen shrub.  It needs a regular trim to keep its shape (something I don't always handle on a timely basis) but it's otherwise a carefree plant.  It produces small purple flowers in summer but, with foliage like that, who cares?

Yucca 'Blue Boy' has wonderful purple foliage.  It's supposed to grow 4-6 feet tall by 3-5 feet wide but mine have stayed smaller (or are just biding their time).

When we acquired this garden just over ten years ago, the only succulent plant in the garden was a single clump of Agave attenuata in the front garden.  In every year since, they've gained a larger foothold.  If I were to venture a guess, I'd say succulents now account for roughly one quarter of the plants in my garden.  Many of these, like the larger agaves, regularly crop up in my posts so I've included just a few of the more demure specimens in this one.

These two 'Joe Hoak' Agaves have been in place since 2015, slowly growing in size.  One came to me as a pup from blogger friend Denise of A Growing Obsession.   

I showed this Crassula Senecio amaniensis in a recent post but here it is again.  I love its shape.  The one in my street-side bed develops long decumbent branches, which is apparently a response to receiving less water.

Years ago, I stuck a tiny cutting of Crassula ovata 'Gollum' below the Xylosma hedge running along the street.  It's become a nice accent with its orange-red tips and I've now used other cuttings as fillers among succulents elsewhere.

Graptoveria 'Fred Ives', shown here in front of three Hesperaloes, remains one of my favorite succulents.  It's tough as well as pretty.

Mangave 'Jaguar', a birthday gift from my husband the year before last, has proven to be a very attractive plant.  I need to surround it with more succulents that'll pick up the copper and burgundy tones in its foliage.

Mangave 'Spotty Dotty' has been happier since I relocated it to this sunnier spot.  Its coloring is unusual, even for a Mangave.

I took numerous photos of Aeoniums in preparing this post but I decided they deserve their own separate post, which I'll share sometime later this month.

That's it from me this week.  I had my first Covid-19 vaccine shot yesterday and I'm starting the weekend with a positive outlook as a result.  I hope you find something to put a positive spin on your weekend too.


All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


23 comments:

  1. Oh, I so hope that's actually Senecio amaniensis...two babies of said just hit my doorstep based on your photos from earlier this week. And although it's not where I ordered them from, a shout out to Annie whose catalog I got this morning, and I know many of the plants in your garden are hers as well; it's been a great run!

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    1. I'm very certain that my 2 plants are Senecio amaniensis. I recorded it as such in the massive Excel file I keep on what I plant and I even vaguely recall that purchase from Solana Succulents in 2014. My ID mess-ups, when they occur, are more generally related to the failure to record a purchase, or a later move within my garden that I don't record.

      Annie's is indeed a great source for mail order plants. Even pre-pandemic, I ordered from there several times a year.

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    2. I'm sorry, I belatedly realized that I confused identification of the plant in question when I typed "Crassula" instead of "Senecio" in this post. It IS Senecio amaniensis!

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    3. Thanks! Your garden has been such an inspiration. When I typed Senecio amaniensis into your search engine, a post from 2014 when you first did the street succulent bed popped up; so cool to see that compared to the recent revision posts :)

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  2. The Graptoveria/Hesperaloe combo is breathtaking!
    Glad the Covid shot went well, the first step to plant hunting again. It's almost a year since I set foot in a plant nursery, March 9, I even remember the date.

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    1. Ha! A friend (who coincidentally popped by to pick up some succulent cuttings today) and I've reminisced about our last lunch outing in a restaurant, which happened in March 2020 on Friday the 13th! My local garden center is close by and I popped in there regularly until the situation in Los Angeles became especially dire. I haven't been there (or anywhere except the grocery store and post office) since mid-December, which is surely a record!

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  3. I don't think I've ever looked forward to a shot so much! I love succulents as the Crassula ovata 'Gollum' is so unusual - love it! As usual, you are an inspiration - I can't wait until my garden is chock full of wonderful plants, all of which I know the botanical name for ;)

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    1. My garden has more empty spaces than it has since my husband and I first began tearing out large sections of lawn years ago. I really want to pay a visit to at least my local garden center soon - I may do that even before my second shot, wearing a double mask as I've been doing on trips to the grocery store. I'm going a little crazy...

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  4. I am always amazed at all the shapes and textures in your garden. Another thing that amazes me is that you can start plants and they grow so fast. I could start a lot of plants but goodness when our winters stop things from growing for about 6 months it takes far longer to get things growing.

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    1. I can't even imagine dealing with real winters like those you face, Lisa. As it is, I get frustrated by the seemingly slow process of plants grown from seed at this time of year. I'm seriously thinking of asking my husband to build me a cold frame to facilitate seed development. I don't have room to set up a seed growing station unless I put it in the kitchen, which I'm afraid would really annoy my husband...

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  5. I love your Mangave 'Jaguar', what a looker! Lots of good texture in your garden, foliage really is the backbone of a garden. It's the glue that holds things together.

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    1. So true, Eliza. When I step back, I think I have a lot of "green blobs" that don't contribute much that I need to change out but then those revisions and adjustments are a normal part of a garden's evolution.

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  6. I really like Crassula amaniensis (which I grew when it was a senecio!) but it does have an awkward habit. I like how yours is coming along. I've been trying to get Marty the vaccine, and Long Beach was doing a stellar job for a while, but the supplies ran out, and then it was time for everyone's second shot so no first-timers. So glad you're in the pipeline!

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    1. Denise, it is Senecio amaniensis - I misidentified it in my post and corrected that this morning. The vaccine search has been a major challenge. I'd filed a couple of requests for alerts but, if I hadn't received heads-up messages from two friends about local Rite Aid pharmacies offering the vaccine and acted immediately upon seeing these, we'd still be waiting. When I got my shot, the pharmacist told me that they filled their slots for a 2-month period almost immediately.

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  7. Hello Kris,

    We totally agree with you. Foliage plants, so often overlooked in favour of their more flowery counterparts, are definitely the mainstays of a garden, keeping the structure and 'bones' to a design when there are few flowers on show.

    However, we have long since favoured plants with all green foliage compared with their variegated varieties. Choisya, Eleagnus, Spirea, Weigela and Euphorbia all look so much better in our view than the variegated versions which tend, we feel to look rather diseased [which, of course, they are].

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    1. I know that many gardeners share your dislike for variegation. I'm fond of variegated plants myself but I admit they can be overused. Yes, variegation can be caused by exposure to a virus - which can be cured as I discovered in the case of one Plectranthus neochilus - but, when the variegation is stable, I understand that it's more generally due to a genetic mutation.

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  8. It seems that in every plant's life there is a period of grace, when it is just perfect in every way: size, shape, color. Case in point: your Echium webbii clump. It looks its absolute best right now. Same for Helichrysum thianschanicum 'Icicles': simply fabulous.
    Crassula ovata 'Gollum' is adorable! Wouldn't it make a well behaved filler just about anywhere? (I've grown it indoors once, but once the bugs got to it, it had to go).

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    1. I agree with you - plants do have their moments of absolute perfection! The only problem with Crassula ovata 'Gollum' from my perspective is that it can grow up to 3 feet tall, which is larger than I like for most of my fillers within my succulent beds. It's a slow grower, though, at least when kept on a low-water diet, so I expect (hope?!) I can keep it under control.

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  9. You're such a flower lover (I was going to say flower pusher but that sounded negative) it's easy to forget your gorgeous foliage collection—so many fabulous plants!

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    1. There are plenty of them out there, Loree. They just tend to get lost sometimes during my enthusiasm for floral color.

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  10. Yes, fabulous foliage, indeed! I wish I was there with you right now. We are piled with snow (thankfully!) and we'll have polar double-digit subzero temps tonight and tomorrow night. I'm dreaming of anything green right now. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It seems that much of the country is in the same ugly situation, Beth. We're experiencing another round of high winds - and no rain - but I know we're a lot luckier than most. I hope the situation turns around for you soon.

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  11. Wow ! Kris I am completely envious of your succulent collection ,Mangaves variety is beautiful. Thanks for joining in Garden Affair .

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