A Corner Full of Foliage

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.

Garlic chives (bottom left), Pale-leaf yucca (center), and Autumn sage (bottom right) round out the perennial plants in this garden.

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.

A closer look at Heartleaf leaves and bloom spikes against the Turkscap leaves.

 

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 yuccaYucca 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 muhlyMuhlenbergia 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 yuccaHesperaloe parviflora.

Garlic chives fill in the bottom right of the photo.

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 chivesAllium 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 asterSymphyotrichum 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.

 

Foliage Follow-up, September 2014

As with our blooms, the Central Texas foliage perks up with September rains, shorter days, and the suggestion of cooler temperature ahead.  I join with Pam at Digging to celebrate the end of summer, new beginnings for autumn, and all things leafy.

The pond garden is a riot of fascinating foliage.  Just take a look! P1070046.new

Lots of foliage action in this shot!  Clockwise from the bottom, the actual water plants include the lily pads of the two lilies I grow (Colorado and Claude Ikins), the Ruby Red Runner, and the showy leaves of the Pickerel RushPontederia cordata.   All three pond plants contribute to the biological filtration of my pond, though I also have a mechanical filter.

Continuing with the tour d’ foliage, the plants adjacent to the pond include tropical Yellow Bells, Tecoma stans, Soft-leaf Yucca, Yucca recurvifolia, Firecracker Plant, Russelia equisetiformis, Martha Gonzales Roses, Iris, Autumn Sage, Salvia greggii, and Mexican Feathergrass, Nassella tenuissima.  All of these perennials sport differing widths, textures, and colors of leaves.

P1070034.new

Ruby Red Runner dies back in the winter, but by late summer into fall it’s full-on lovely and spreading.

P1070042.new

 

P1070035.new

It’s seeded out in several places around the pond. This plant, usually used as a waterfall biological filter and prized for its attractive foliage, produces teensy puff-ball flowers,

IMGP0402_cropped_3073x3308..new

…which go to seed, thus, the spread.

Another view of the plants near the pond…

20140914_19.new

Not much blooming in those photos, but a variety of leaf beauty.

I particularly like these water shots with the creeping roots of the Ruby Red Runner, spreading its spidery fingers toward the lily pads,

P1070057.new

P1070056.new

…as if the roots are creeping outward to grab the pads.  Or maybe they’re just reaching out for a watery hug!

The soft, elegant foliage of Lindheimer’s Senna, Senna lindheimeriana,

20140914_11.new

lends structure to, but also softens the back of my garden.  Combined with the bright green leaves of the Yellow Bells and spiky, but matching-in-color American Century Plant, Agave americana,

P1070358.new

20140914_14.new

…the Senna fits well in this spot.

The morning after a recent rain,  the foliage of the Purple Heart, Setcreasea pallida, retained droplets along its edges.

20140914_54.new

With “traditional” autumn coloring, (which doesn’t happen for Central Texas on a large-scale until late November/December), the plumes of the Maiden Grass, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’, beautifully complement the flowers of Turk’s CapMalvaviscus arboreus, and the orange blossoms of Flame Acanthus, Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii.

P1070133.new

Here’s a closer look at the inflorescence of the Maiden Grass.IMGP0268.new

Along with the orange-y and autumn-y color theme, this new ceramic container is planted with the ‘Color Guard’ YuccaYucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’, accompanied by Woolly Stemodia, Stemodia lanata.

P1070197.new

The container sits amidst a nest of blooming and berrying Pigeonberry, Rivina humilis.

What interesting foliage is gracing your garden space now?  Celebrate foliage in your gardens and learn about other foliage by visiting Digging for September Foliage Follow-up.

 

Foliage Follow-up, June 2014

As The Warm settles in for the duration here in Austin, Texas, interesting and lush foliage positions well alongside flowers in our early summer gardens.

Yes, summer in Texas is hot.  But here in Texas reside tough, tough plants that shrug off the heat and the dry and are magnificent to behold.  One such is the Retama, Parkinsonia aculeata.  Retama is a small, airy tree which grows along highways receiving no care and yet is stunning: in form, bloom and  foliage.

P1040311.new

The leaves are tiny, delicate and bright green. They form on a long leaf stalk and are paired opposite one another.

P1040994.new

P1040995.new

The Retama is a Texas beauty.  I’m glad it graces my garden.

The pairing of a not-in-bloom Goldeneye, Viguiera dentata and Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, provides lots of lushness.

P1040482.new

The Mexican Orchid TreeBauhinia mexicana, returned after our cold winter.  It hasn’t bloomed yet, but the leaves on this little tree have always reminded me of ungulate hooves.

P1040314.new

Really, how often does one have an excuse to use that word??  Ungulate

The American Agave, Agave americana, in the container  provides a striking contrast with the Cast Iron Plant, Aspidistra elatior.

P1040484.new

If you look closely at the photo, top right, you can see The Husband’s bicycle, wheel a whirl, as he pedals to work. That’s a brave man in Austin’s traffic.

The unfurling of new Agave growth.

P1040786_cropped_1766x3176..new

Beautiful.

The Mexican Feathergrass, Nassella tenuissima, is lovely with the YarrowAchillea millefolium, in the background.

P1040565.new

Both plants have delicate-looking foliage, but are hardy choices for our challenging soil and climate.

Another look at the Yarrow,  a summertime favorite of mine.

P1040566.new

I love this shot of the Sparkler SedgeCarex phyllocephala ‘Sparkler’, behind (and above!) the Uruguayan Firecracker Plant, Dicliptera suberecta.

P1040573.new

The spiky, variegated ‘Sparkler’ looms over the soft, gray-green Firecracker Plant–they are opposite in  the foliage spectrum, but a nice combination.  The Firecracker doesn’t  bloom often, though it’s pretty when it happens.  I chose this plant primarily for its lovely foliage.  The ‘Sparkler’ is relatively new for me and so far, I love it.  It was evergreen during the winter and seems like a winner for summer as well.

Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting this festival of June foliage!