Greens, Blues, Greys

I’m enjoying lovely leafiness which has come into its own in a bed adjacent to the  front entrance of my home.   Let’s take a wide view to get the bearings of this raised bed.

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I planted the Soft Leaf Yucca, Yucca recurvifolia and the Red YuccaHesperaloe parviflora as anchor plants in this bed because they are both evergreen and grow to respectable sizes.  Most of the other plants are smaller shrubs or groundcover-type perennials: some are evergreen, some are herbaceous perennials, and a couple are annuals.  There are also some other native perennials, a smaller yucca, and a native perennial grass, all located out of view of these photos.

Reminding me of tiny hands that are spread wide, I’m pleased with the deeply lobed foliage of this little annual/bi-annual thing, a native Wild Geranium, Geranium carolinianum.  It was a gift from birds, or maybe, the wind, but grows well with other pretty-leafed plants.

Tiny, dark green and fragrant leaves of Damianita, combine with soft, frilly poppy leaves, complement the ornate leaves of Wild Geranium.

Tiny, dark green and fragrant leaves of Damianita, combine with soft, frilly poppy leaves, complement the ornate leaves of Wild Geranium.

I noticed one Wild Geranium in the garden a few years ago, left it to seed, and each late winter, more return.  I like its sprawling nature, lacy foliage, and sweet, tiny blooms.  I’ll pull up all of the individuals soon because a few seeds left assure plants for next spring, but many seeds left guarantee too many future Wild Geraniums–much more weeding work–and who wants that?

The Wild Geranium foliage clamors for well-deserved attention underneath the Red Yucca,

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…while a seedling Mexican Feathergrass, Nassella tenuissima echoes the spray of the Red Yucca.

This extravagant set of leaves belongs to another spring annual, a member of the Papaver family, seeds of which were generously gifted to me last year by TexasDeb of the charming  Austin Agrodolce.

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Poppies popped in my spring garden for many years, seeds of which were given to me by a German friend long ago, but over time they’d declined and last year I had few poppies to ooh and aah over.  The new poppy seeds from Deb were a timely and quite welcomed gift.  With or without raindrops, I love the scalloped edges of poppy foliage, either alone,

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…or in concert with other interesting foliage.  This one poppy certainly holds its own alongside the petite grey leaves of  Germander Sage, Salvia chamaedryoides, the Wild Geranium, and blooming DamianitaChrysactinia mexicana–as well as the points of the Soft Leaf Yucca, bearing down on the rest.

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A wider look includes both newly planted Globe MallowSphaeralcea ambigua allowing for some silvery leaf action,

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…not to mention a couple of orange beauty blooms.

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The Germander Sage was an impulse purchase, but I like it–the blue flowers and grey-green leaves are hard to beat.  It’s hardy and easy to grow–a requirement in my garden–and it’s definitely a water-wise addition to this sunny, dry bed.

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The sunshiny blooms of the Damiantia almost steal the show from their foliage host and plant partners.

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Almost, but perhaps, not quite.

Tidy, smooth leaves of the not-in-bloom Rock Penstemon, Penstemon baccharifolius contrast in form and shape with matte, wavy poppy leaves.

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Spiky Twistleaf Yucca, Yucca rupicola appear to reach out from frilly poppy foliage, giving fair warning of their pointy ends as I lean into the garden to weed or photograph.

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I’m always poked–somewhere–by those ends. Always.

And from another angle,

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…blue-green Soft Leaf Yucca, minty-green poppy foliage, and vivid green Twistleaf Yucca are a verdant combination worthy of any celebration of green in the March garden.

This Green Anole certainly approves–of the straps of the Soft Leaf Yucca, if not of the photographer’s intrusion,

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…while his bigger buddy looks askance at me.  Does he know how well he reflects the colors of the Soft Leaf Yucca?  Or, is it the other way around?IMGP6271.new

In celebration of the foliage in the March garden, many thanks to Christina and her lovely Creating my own garden of the Hesperides.   Check out her Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day for a look at foliage in many gardens, from many places.

 

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!

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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.  

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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.

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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,

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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’,

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

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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’.

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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.

 

Wildflower Wednesday, June 2014

Summer is in full swing in Austin–heat, blooms, heat, blooms.  I tire of the heat and humidity, but beautiful native wildflowers thrive in our sticky summers and today is the day to show them off.  Thanks to Gail at clay and limestone for hosting and promoting the use of native plants and wildflowers in the home garden.

A few years ago at the Lady Bird Johnson  Wildflower Center’s fall native plant sale, I bought a Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta.

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It was a total impulse purchase and I’m glad for that particular lack of impulse control!  Each spring, this little annual (for me) pops up in a different place in my gardens.  This year?  It’s on the back patio, keeping the potted bougainvillaea company.  I’ll let it seed out this summer and who knows where it will appear next summer.

I must share a photo or two of my wonderful Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea.

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The quintessential summer perennial in my gardens, Coneflowers are tough, happy summer flowers.  They are great for pollinators and also are terrific as cut flowers indoors, if you’re so inclined.

The  Zexmenia, Wedelia texana, began blooming a little late this year, but is in full force now.

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Zexmenia is a lovely Texas flowering perennial and performs no matter how hot it is in Austin.

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I often pair Zexmenia with Rock Rose, Pavonia lasiopetala, in my gardens.

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From morning through mid-afternoon, the combination of the pink Rock Rose and the yellow  Zexmenia is pretty and fresh.  Both perennials require little water and are favorites of native pollinators. The hibiscus-like flowers of Rock Rose close with the heat mid-afternoon, leaving  the yellow Zexmenia to go it alone until the next sunrise.

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A few years ago, I collected seeds of Drummond’s Ruellia, Ruellia drummondiana. I caught the first bloom of the season recently.

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This ruellia, which isn’t commonly available, doesn’t usually begin blooming fully until mid-to-late summer.  I was tickled to see one open early in the growing season.  It looks like the ants are happy about that too!

The ‘Henry Duelberg’ Salvia, Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’ still sports its pretty bloom spikes.

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It’ll bloom until it’s too hot, then the ‘Henry’ rests, renewing its bloom cycle again with cooler autumn temperatures.  I’ll prune the ‘Henry’ to keep it tidy until its fall bloom cycle.

Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, is an excellent summer bloomer and another favorite of mine.

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It’s a superb  wildlife plant as well:  hummingbirds, bees and butterflies love its bright red blossoms and the birds devour its fruits in the fall.  It grows as a thick shrub,  so many lizards, birds and insects shelter in it.

The cheerful Engelmann’s Daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, should bloom through mid-summer.

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One reason I chose this wildflower for my gardens is that I noticed how many bees visit it in other gardens.  That hasn’t been true for this daisy this year and I’m not sure why, but Engelmann’s Daisy is still a bright spot in the garden.

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Lastly, this is a nice conglomeration of summer beauties together:

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Two native Texas perennials I haven’t profiled today, Damianita, Chrysactinia mexicana, and Rock Penstemon, Penstemon baccharifolius, are blooming in this photo.  Usually, the Damianita takes a break in the summer after its profusion of spring blossoms.  Rock Penstemon is a hardy summer/fall bloomer.

What native wildflowers are in your garden?  For more wildflower goodness from many places, check out clay and limestone and its celebration of June wildflowers.