Foliage Follow-up, August 2014

Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-up, the monthly fanfare of foliage in the garden. As much as I love flowers, a plant’s foliage is often a deal-breaker when choosing for my gardens.  Especially in August when Austin blooms are a little scarce, the plant parts that are not flowers can lend beauty and definition to a garden space.

While not exactly foliage, seed heads certainly aren’t  blooms either.  Ex-flowers, I guess, but I’m including them because in mid-to-late summer, seed pods produced by former blooms impart interest to perennial gardens.  This group of seed heads of the Gulf Penstemon, Penstemon tenuis, are just about to POP open and spread their glory!

The Gulf Penstemon is a lovely lavender spring-blooming perennial.   I keep the seed heads as long as possible to give the seeds time to develop for propagation of new specimens for this short-lived perennial and also because I find them attractive.

Little, tawny turban-hats, the hard shell will burst open, spreading the seeds to nearby areas.  Or, the gardener (that’s me, folks) can prune the stems, crack open those turbans, shake out the seeds and in doing so, appear to evoke some pagan ritual while waving the stalks over the gardens.  I wonder what the neighbors think?

The Hill Country Penstemon, Penstemon triflorus, sports a larger, darker turban-capped seed head.

This year marks the latest I’ve ever left these seed pods on their bloom spikes. Usually, this plant topples over by early summer, I lose patience with the mess and cut it to the ground.

This seed pod of the RetamaParkinsonia aculeata, hangs from the tree’s slender branch like a pea ready for pickin’.

Retama is a member of the pea family (Fabaceae), so the pea analogy works.

This combination of varying foliage pleases me:  Mexican Feathergrass, Nassella tenuissima, Globe MallowSphaeralcea ambigua, and GoldeneyeViguiera dentata.

This trio includes some of the premier hardy perennials easily available for the Austin gardener.

If you have, have had or have ever seen a teenage boy of that certain age when the hair is long and a bit shaggy, close your eyes and visualize that in this DamianitaChrysactinia mexicana.

I love the swoosh of the “bangs” framed over the decorative stone.  Just imagine the teenage boy-head, constantly swooping his hair back to keep those bangs out of the eyes, in that annoyingly cute, but insolent way.

The wide, heart-shaped and deeply veined foliage of Coral VineAntigonon leptopus,

suggests a tropical lushness that is welcome this time of year.

I’m enamored with strappy, striped foliage, like that of this Dianella or Variegated Flax Lily, Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’,

…and this Color Guard YuccaYucca filamentosa, ‘Color Guard’.

Those banded beauties work nicely in concert with each other and with another pairing I like, the native ColumbineAquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana, mixed with the cultivar  Katie’s Dwarf RuelliaRuellia brittoniana, ‘Katie’s Dwarf’.

The evergreen Columbine, with its soft form and graceful foliage, blooms yellow in spring. Conversely, the deciduous Katie’s Dwarf Ruellia has dark, lance-like leaves and sports sprays of deep purple from July through October.  Opposites attract and work well together–at least that’s true of these two plants.

Head over to Digging to check out other accolades to the leafy among us.


11 thoughts on “Foliage Follow-up, August 2014

  1. What Deborah said. I love the penstemons. My neighbour has a little patch that just sprang up from nowhere. I am terribly jealous of couse.


    • I love my various penstemons–so tough and reliable. And beautiful, of course. I just came in from pulling off the remaining seed heads of the Hill Country Penstemon and scattering them in the garden. Maybe more in time….


  2. I am trying to resist writing (aka complaining) about how much the deer love to nibble on my Gulf penstemon. (Ooops.)

    I love your lyrical imagery – the teenaged boy bangs, the tawny turbans, you rattling out seeds in some pagan ritual. You aren’t just putting plants out lady – you are dancing with them! No wonder they thrive for you…


    • Thanks, Deb. Lyrical imagery aside, remember that I don’t plant with deer or thin soil. I’d love to take credit for my general success, but I have good “digs” to work with. Even with that, I’m never quite satisfied with how things are going. (Can you tell that I’m in the August doldrums, wanting to change some things and knowing that I can’t right now. Too hot. Too dry. Argh!!


      • I am counting the days until September. Even though the weather then won’t be much different than now, I’ll allow myself a few transplants just to get the Fall ball rolling. I can hand water those through September if I have to and by then the nights will be back to slightly cooler temps again. Hopefully…


      • I recently transplanted about 20-30 seedlings and newly purchased plants. All are doing well–surprisingly. I always become impatient this time of year to “get a move on in the garden”–to change the parts that I’m displeased with and fix all those mistakes I made last year that I’m living with now. And I can’t–I have to wait. Patience is a virtue.


  3. I like the look of Gulf Coast penstemon seedheads too, Tina, and I’ll have to remember to evoke my pagan rituals next time I knock them about to spread the seeds. Love your Bieber bangs imagery as well!


    • Thanks, Pam. I don’t know if your son ever had long hair, but mine did and yeah, that’s a memory for me. These days he’s West-coast handsome and chic. The waving of the penstemons must work–I always have plenty of seedlings around.


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