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.

 

Bees in Bloom

I suppose the title should read:  Bees in Blooms.

Bees of all stripes and wings are active in the late summer garden, sticking their probosces into the depths of flowers and reveling in pollen. This week, I’m crowning the honeybees as the winners of the bee beauty pageant. From a purely self-interested standpoint, honeybees are significantly easier to photograph, as they’re not speed fliers, nor teeny-tiny, like most of the native bees.

A preferred nectar source for honeybees are the charming blooms of the Coral Vine, Antigonon leptopus.

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I grow one small bit of this vine and from late summer into fall, the bees are all over it, all the time.  Tagged as an invasive plant here in Texas, as well as some other southern states, in all the years I’ve grown my vine I’ve only seen two or three seedlings develop. That said, I probably wouldn’t grow it if I live in a rural area and not smack-dab in the middle of a city, at some distance from a green belt.  Rural gardeners should steer clear of this plant and choose native-to-region plants instead.

Honeybees enjoy the flowerets of FrostweedVerbesina virginica, a native perennial best known as a migrating Monarch butterfly favorite and a post hard-freeze ice-sculpture plant.

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Majestic sageSalvia guaranitica, is lush with its royal blooms this wetter-than-normal summer.   Typically, I see one or two native bee species at this plant, but honeybees have shown interest in stealing nectar.

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ZexmeniaWedelia texensis, always hosts a variety of  native pollinators who work its cheery yellow blooms;  honeybees are included in that mix.

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Garlic chivesAllium tuberosum, recently began their short bloom cycle in my garden, but it didn’t take long for the honeys to find them.

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I wonder what garlic honey might taste like?  Mmmm!

 

Another perennial preference of honeybees and many other pollinators is the Rock rosePavonia lasiopetala.  I like this back-lit shot with the early morning sun, setting bee and bloom aglow.

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As well as this shot, which simply highlights both–and the foliage, as well.

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An impulse buy from a nursery a couple of years ago as I observed honeybees clamoring for nectar from its blooms, is this Shrubby blue sageSalvia ballotiflora.

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I’d say that the bee is busy and content with its bounty.  The Shrubby blue sage also attracts several species of native carpenter bees, as well as a variety of butterflies.

 

The native-to-South Texas, Yellow bellsTacoma stans, always has bee visitors, but rarely (or so it seems)  at the angle that I can easily photograph.  No bees at this bloom cluster, but these flowers always please.

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A bee-less photo, but of a great bloomer and nectar source for many different pollinators.

 

Another bee-less photo is of blooming Garlic chives and in the background, a purple blooming Autumn sageSalvia greggii.

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 Both typically have pollinators in attendance; I happened to catch the combo in a quiet moment.

I thank Carol at May Dreams Garden for hosting this monthly bloom bonanza known as Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  Join in, share your garden pretties, then click over to her lovely blog to see and learn about blooms from many places.