With the blossoms of blooms that spring inevitably gifts our gardens, it’s easy to overlook the foliage of spring. New foliage emerges from winter-dormant perennials, evergreen plants flush fresh foliage distinct from older leafy brethren, and gardeners take notice at the greening of their space. In one corner of my garden, there’s little floral interest at the moment, but plenty of foliage fanfare.
The focal point of this part-shade garden rests on a blue pot full of an eye-catching silver-green American century plant, Agave americana.
Hugging the fence line is a large clump of emerging-from-winter native Turkscap, Malvaviscus arboreus. I like the bright green leaves and softer form of Turkscap neighboring the spiky, silvery agave. Another North American green-grey foliaged native, Heartleaf skullcap, Scutellaria ovata, accompanies the agave and fronts the Turkscap, as well as filling in other spots of this garden.
The leaves of Turkscap are wide and mallow-like, which makes sense because Turkscap is in the mallow, Malvaceae, family.
Heartleaf skullcap is an aggressive, but easily controllable perennial sporting beautiful, soft-to-touch foliage.
Heartleaf also flowers lovely blue/blue-violet bloom spikes from spring to early summer. The plant is at the beginning of its flowering season and in fact, there are some blooming in other parts of my garden.
Oops–I meant to talk only about foliage for this post!
Blue-grey in color and barb-sharp in form is this Pale-leaf yucca, Yucca pallida, sitting alongside the Heartleaf skullcap,
…and photobombed here by the same plant.
I like this yucca: tidy, hardy, and attractive year round, it’s also one of the few yucca plants that is happy growing in shade and part-shade–and that’s a win for my sun-limited garden.
An emerging Big muhly, Muhlenbergia lindheimeri, just in front of the silly bird, tolerates the Heartleaf buddying-up to it.
The Big muhly complements both agave plants with its similar shape and slender, grass-like foliage. Unfortunately, this specimen struggles a bit and doesn’t grow as large or as full as it should; it would thrive with more sun.
Shy, retiring muhly is nearly hidden and definitely overshadowed by the garish Turkscap and the elegant Heartleaf skullcap and Pale-leaf yucca. The bird shows well though, don’t you think?
Like the juxtaposition of the the silver foliaged agave with the brilliant green Turkscap, Turkscap and Heartleaf (and Pale-leaf yucca!) are opposites which nicely pair with one another.
The Heartleaf continues–yes, there’s plenty of it in this garden– beyond the Turkscap and fronts yet one more yucca-type plant that’s actually another species of agave: Red yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora.
Red yucca’s graceful, slightly arching foliage is a genuine, deep green, rather than the silver/grey/blue greens of Heartleaf skullcap, Pale-leaf yucca, and American agave. It’s also a gentler plant: no sharp needles in which to poke the gardener when she’s bumbling around the garden!
Heartleaf drifts into and around three groups of Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum. The chives look spiky, but are soft and malleable. They’re a cheery green, harmonizing well with the Heartleaf, and fragrant too, when stepped on or handled.
At the end of this corner bed, one last vivid green foliage perennial partnering with Heartleaf is Fall aster, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium.
The new aster leaves trend chartreuse, which brightens this particular combination.
There are a few blooms happening in this garden–the large volunteer sunflower and a couple of red blooms on an Autumn sage, Salvia greggii, but right now this bed is all about foliage and structural plants–both valuable assets in a garden.
Whatever foliage is gracing your garden this April, please check out Christina’s lovely Creating my own garden of the Hesperides Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day. Also, happy Earth Day! Christina’s advice about planting a tree (or two or three!) is excellent; native trees are best, but trees are the life-blood of this planet. Additionally, funding for and promotion of science and research institutions will be this planet’s saving.
You have some great plants in your shady area. I particularly like the soft leaf Agave; the silvery colours and greens work really well together, they must receive some sun or the silvers would turn to green. I’ve only just sown my sunflowers so I was very surprised to see yours flowering. Thanks for continuing to participate in GBFD
Oh, yes–it’s a part-shade/part-sun garden, that’s true. There are certain plants I’d love to grow there that just won’t work because there’s not enough sunshine year-round, but I’m generally happy with this spot. It’s a little early for us to have sunflowers up and blooming, too, but that seems to be the trend and the year. Alas.
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Flowers in bloom or not – your garden spaces are lovely, thoughtful, and reflective of many wise choices. Nobody beats you when it comes to combining plants to effect!
BTW – Those garlic chives are delicious added to spring salads and egg dishes. If you haven’t tried cooking with them yet you should.
You should know about the garlic chives, Deb–those are the ones you gave to me! Loving them, btw, and yes, they’re so nice in salads, etc.!
New foliage always has such pretty shades.
I agree–spring greens are something to celebrate.
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Tina her shade garden is beautiful. All the plants I like a lot but especially the American Agate, the Yucca pallida and the Chives that smell very good and they taste better! The photos are magnificent. The contrast between the silver gray foliage and the green is beautiful. The Sunflower is cute and the bird knows how to sing? Because it is very beautiful. Happy Earth Day. Greetings from Margarita.
Happy (belated) Earth Day to you, too! I also like the contrasting greens of the foliage. It’s subtle, but lovely in differing light.
Lovely! And still the most amazing weather for being out in it. Here’s to a long spring!
YES to a long spring!
Your combinations are lovely. I didn’t know this muhly, and like it very much. I read that it makes a fine substitute for Pampas grass, and that’s all to the good. I didn’t know about the red yucca, either. I saw my first twist-leaf yucca this year; there’s so much variety, and it’s all delightful.
I saw three century plants blooming in Fredericksburg this weekend — all on the same corner of a lot. It made an impressive display, believe me. And I found some wonderful, wholly unexpected combinations out on the Willow City Loop, including rain lilies blooming while snuggled up next to prickly pear. Apparently, anything is possible for Mother Nature!
Thanks–it takes so long for things to grow in, but I’m mostly happy with most of that corner situation. I love Big muhly. I have a couple of really nice ones in my front garden, they get lots more sun there. I’ll bet that trifecta of blooming agave was something to see! They do make a show, don’t they? Rain lilies are so, so lovely–that’s a plant I haven’t had any long-term luck with, but I sure enjoy them along roadsides.