Foliage Day, January 2015

It went from this: …to this,

…to this,

…and finally, this.

The Shumard Oak leaves responded to the shorter and cooler days, but are no longer much in play on this Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day.  It’s winter, such that it is, here in Austin, Texas.  Our winters are generally mild and quite pleasant, though occasionally  blasted by cold snaps that send our temperatures from mild 50s-70s into the low 30s, or 20s, and even into the teens (Fahrenheit!)–sometimes within hours.

A stout and flexible gardening heart is a requirement for Central Texas gardeners.

The first part of January saw cold and cloudy days, one after another, with no peek-a-boo play from the sun.  I just returned from a short trip to Oregon and enjoyed more sunshine there than I’d seen in Austin in those first weeks of January.  Additionally, it wasn’t as cold as it’s been in Austin.  How weird is that?  To travel to the Pacific Northwest, in January, to experience more sun and warmer temperatures?

Austin revelled in sunshine while I was away and everyone was happier for it.  I’m back in Austin and so is the gloom and drizzle and chill. No whining allowed though, I’m enjoying and appreciating the foliage of winter-worthy shrubs and perennials and thanking Christina of Creating my own garden of the Hesperides for hosting this monthly look at foliage in the garden.

The Columbines, Aquilegia hinckleyanand  Aquilegia canadensis,

… are lush and generous evergreens during winter.   Equally delicate-looking,  Bronze Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare,

…and Green Fennel, too,

…add daintiness and feathery beauty, but remain green-n-growing during winter’s chill.  I like them as winter interest plants, but I grow fennel for the spring, summer, and autumn butterflies, or more accurately, their larvae.

Of sturdier structure is the Leatherleaf MahoniaMahonia bealei, which fades into the background during most of the growing season, but lends both floral and foliage interest throughout the winter months.


Soft-leaf YuccaYucca recurvifolia, makes a statement with its bold straps,

…as does the American Century PlantAgave americana.

Variegated Flax Lily or Dianella, Dianella tasmanica, ‘Variegata’, is snazzy year-round.  I grow several groups and they are the only plants I routinely cover during the coldest freezes.

When covered, Dianella retain their stripy charm and they march through our hot summers with aplomb.  All of my Dianella are several years old.

Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora, is an evergreen, native Texas member of the Agavaceae family. The Red Yucca foliage is attractive in the winter garden,

…though it would be more so if I would prune its dormant bloom stalks,

…and clean out the fallen and trapped tree leaves from its basal leaves.


More leaf removal is on the gardening agenda for this week  I have a long list of garden chores after that, so I’d better get off the computer and get to gardening!

Pop on over and check out Creating my own garden of the Hesperides to view beautiful January foliage from many places around the world.


14 thoughts on “Foliage Day, January 2015

  1. Those first images of your oak are lovely, especially interesting to see ice in Texas, I am reviewing I mis-held ideas about the climate there completely! It must be very tough on the plants to have to deal with summer drought and then temperatures as low as you’ve been experiencing. You have lots of very beautiful foliage plants. Do show some wider shots of your garden sometime so I can see how it all fits together. Thank you for joining GBFD and sharing some special foliage.


    • I’m very happy to dispel popular notions of Texas, Christina! 🙂 Texas is a big place: the northern part (Panhandle) can receive some of the first snows/freezing weather in all of the US, the southern tip (Valley) is tropical, though can freeze, which is a problem for its valuable production of citrus fruit. Far West Texas is high desert mountains, and East Texas is forest, with more rainfall and acidic soils. Central Texas is at the confluence of competing weather patterns and geology, so our summers are hot and generally dry (though humid), spring and autumn are mild, and winters bounce back and forth. I’ve only received one hard freeze (will a little moisture, thus the icicles from the leaves), in my garden. I live in the central part of Austin, a large city. Folks who live outwards from Austin and into the Hill Country, have experienced several hard freezes by now. Today? Lots of rain–an inch overnight and more to come.

      Thank you for hosting–it’s always enjoyable to focus on foliage in the garden!


  2. That shot of the ice hanging on the Shumard leaves is stunning. The pomegranate trees here have just switched from green abruptly to a lemon yellow, and they are falling, a few at a time, though more in today’s rain. I enjoy their color even if it feels out of season.

    I’m going to look for the variegated flax lilies. I love those stripes.


    • I’ve loved those oak leaves this year–they colored and hung on for such a long time! Pomegranate has nice color. I understand what you mean though–the leaves should have dropped. My oaks were really slow to drop this year. While I was gone this past week, most have fallen, but that’s a bit out of the norm–usually, they’re done by late December.

      I just love the Flax Lilies. I think where you are, you’ll need to cover them well during freeze time, as they are sensitive to cold, but I’ve so enjoyed mine!


      • Hope you don’t mind if I pop in. As I read your comment about the pomegranate I realized that the low growing nandina (I know but it was here when we moved in) that usually turns a deep purple around this time of year is still green. This has been a weird winter for colour.

        Liked by 2 people

      • You know, you’re right about the nandina–I have some ‘Nana’ in my front garden and they’re usually splattered with red by now. We’ve been quite cloudy though this year–I don’t know if it’s any sort of record-breaker, but it seems like we’ve not been the sunny Austin that we usually are. The nandina respond to sunlight, so maybe…?


  3. Love the baby icicles. =) The last leaves on my oak have just finally fallen this week. So grateful for the rain. Everything was getting pretty crunchy out there.


  4. Enjoyed seeing your foliage review, especially the Variegated Flax Lily. I took a flower design class this week and the teacher had not been able to find flax leaves for us to use in the arrangement. From her description I’m guessing she was talking about your flax lily.


    • That’s interesting. I’ll bet the leaves would be pretty in an arrangement. The Flax Lily blooms too. The blooms are tiny, medium blue along a slender panicle–but I think most gardeners (myself included) prize it for the foliage, as the flowers are rather insignificant. Funnily enough, it was the flowers that I first noticed on a plant in a public garden.


  5. Evergreen Columbines?! Wow! I can’t even imagine that. Mine, of course, go completely dormant during our long, cold winters here in Wisconsin. We get those dramatic temperature swings, too, but they usually occur in November or March. I did notice, however, that Austin has been cold (colder than I would have guessed) this winter. But you have Mahonias in bloom! Lucky you!


    • I guess everything you have is covered with snow? My Columbines can be covered with ice (which happens, frequently in February) and be blooming within a week or so.

      Actually, our winter hasn’t been very cold, as in freezing temperatures on a regular basis, but it has been quite chilly–many days in the low to mid 30s and drizzling, or like today raining.

      And the Mahonias are nice in winter–that yellow is cheery!


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