Native Texas Plant Week and Foliage Follow-Up–October 2012

Joining Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow-Up and celebrating Native Texas Plant Week, I’ll focus on some of the lovely Texas plants currently wowing with interesting foliage in my garden.

Or, as in the case of the Big Muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri), showing off its slender foliage and its magnificent inflorescence.  Fall has arrived with the plumes of native grasses entering their full glory.  Sigh.  So beautiful.

This Silver Ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea) augments the brighter green and blooming perennials around it.

Its creeping habit is graceful as it spills over edges and rocks.

Most people in Texas would consider this plant, Horseherb (Calyptocarpus vialis),

an obnoxious weed.  I’ve found many of these hardy, drought tolerant plants insinuating themselves in cracks between stepping-stones or at the base of raised beds.  I had so many individual mats that I decided to plant as many as possible in a sitting area that was once grass, but has been a mulched area for about ten years.

I planted the left side after some heavy rains last May and the right side, after rains  during the summer. The Horseherb has filled in remarkably well.  Scarily so. I hope I don’t regret have this tough plant so close to a more formal garden.  I’ll need to keep it tidy with a line trimmer, but the area is almost completely shaded, so it won’t need extra water and Horseherb can handle moderate foot traffic.

Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) is sporting its tawny seeds for fall.

Although the pretty yellow blooms of the Lindheimer’s Senna (Senna lindheimeriana) are all but gone and the seeds are ripening for the birds, I still love the beautiful soft grey-green foliage of this native perennial.

Lindheimer’s Senna is especially nice paired with the bright green, more tropical looking leaves of the ‘Esparanza’ Yellow Bells (Tacoma stans).

The always elegant Mexican Feathergrass  (Nasella tenuissima), softens gardens with its thread-like shimmery green to golden brown leaves.

Years ago, someone shared their White Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) with me.  Yarrow is a favorite of mine because of its beauty and durability.  Best in shade, it grows well in even the driest of summers; its blooms are long-lasting.  By this time of year, I’ve pruned the flower stalks, but the leaves remain lush.

This Retama is about seven years old.  It’s grown tall and has yellow flowers all summer.  The bloom cycle is toward its end, but the delicate, feathery leaves are fetching.

Be STILL my beating heart!  I love Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris).

I love it!  Although my little Muhly is no rival for some of the beauties of this species that I see around Austin, I’m still thrilled that I have some plumage.  Someday, little Muhly, someday!

Glory in both blooms and foliage! And if you live in Texas, happy Native Plants Week!  Wherever you live, try native plants for your garden. For more information about North American native plants, check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center site.

Tardy Again! This Time to Foliage Follow-up

Like Pam of Digging, I’ve also admired the landscaping at the North Star Home Center  in Austin.  I live near this commercial site and drive by often. I greatly appreciate that the owners of the property chose xeric, mostly regional plants to landscape with, rather than the typical needy and boring turf.  I’ve long admired the combination of the deep purple of the Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) combined with the blue-green of the Agave and Sotol in that garden.  It is a stunning contrast. Inspired by the beauty  of this commercial garden, I planted an Agave (Agave americana)  in concert with a long-established group of Purple Heart.

This area is part-shade, so the Purple Heart doesn’t bloom much and the Agave will be slower growing than in full sun.  The tree that shades the spot is in decline, so I expect in the next few years to have more sun in this spot.

In Pam’s post, the Purple Heart is in full sun.  In my gardens there are six areas where Purple Heart is planted  and all are part to full shade.  It’s a very versatile ground cover.  It’s especially nice planted with evergreens such as Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) and Giant Lirope (Lirope muscari).

It tends to bloom more with more sun and sometimes has a tinge of green in the leaves.  In shade it remains a deep purple, usually with a few blooms and attendant bees.

Purple Heart can be a bit invasive, so in a cultivated garden, one must take a shovel or sharpshooter to it from time-to-time to keep it in bounds.

Every spring, I have to dig some of the Purple Heart out of this group to prevent encroachment into (from left to right), the  Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera), the Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala), the Chile Pequin (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum)  and Yarrow (Achillea spp.).

Purple Heart dies to the ground with the first freeze, but in Central Texas, it is root hardy.  In northern climates, it can be grown as a container plant.  It is not deer resistant.

Purple Heart is a native to Mexico and an extremely tough plant–it works well  in  most soil types and with minimal irrigation. It is a beautiful foliage ground cover that adds color to any garden. It’s an easy pass-along plant.  So find a gardening friend who has Purple Heart, snip a branch or two, stick in the ground and enjoy for years to come.