Foliage Follow-Up, February 2014

This February I’m glad that my garden has enough interesting foliage to grace a gloomier-than-normal garden space. The Leatherleaf Mahonia (Mahonia bealei),

remains a rich green, even with a thin coat of ice on the leaves.

I’ve fallen in love with ‘Sparkler’ Sedge  (Carex phyllocephala ‘Sparkler), a new addition to my gardens.

I planted  three in the fall and they’ve performed well this winter.  I hope ‘Sparkler’ can handle the upcoming heat and accompanying dry summer without much babying from this gardener.

A favorite of mine all year round, the Mexican Feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima), is always graceful.

A trio of nice foliage plants.  The two larger shrubs, ‘Nana’ Nandina, display a remarkable mosaic of winter color.

The ‘Nana’ are combined here with Yellow ‘Hinckley’ columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana) to the right and Berkeley sedge (Carex divulsa) on the left, at the bottom of the photo.

A closer look at the foliage of the ‘Nana’ Nandina, first on a cloudy day,

then on a bright, shiny day.

Either way, it  cheers up the winter garden.

Lastly, the Pale-leaf yucca (Yucca pallida),

always lends texture to the garden.  I especially love the yellow/orange-yellow strips bordering the leaves.  And the grey-blue of those leaves is striking all year-long.

Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting the tribute to foliage.

Foliage Follow-Up–February 2012–Good Nandinas

One of my favorite plants for nice winter foliage here in mild Austin, Texas is the Nandina domestica (Atropurpurea ‘Nana’).  Nandinas are not native to North America, but are originally from Asia.  The Nana variety is a dwarf (it gets about two feet tall) which doesn’t produce berries, but is grown for its dwarf habit, hardiness in the home/commercial landscape and its foliage.  Because the Nana doesn’t develop berries, it’s not considered an invasive plant in Central Texas, unlike its brethren with berries.

Nana Nandinas can be quite striking in the winter.  During the fall and winter, the Nana’s leaves turn colors ranging from green to yellow to rust to deep red and burgundy.  There’s even a little orang-y/coral-ly thing going on sometimes!

All of the Nanas in my personal gardens are in shade for most of the year, receiving full sun only once the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves. Unfortunately, my plants don’t turn the striking red coloration that shrubs in full sun do.  This Nana belongs to some nice neighbors and is absolutely stunning, I think.

My Nanas have bits of red here and there, but tend to be less dramatic in their coloring, though still attractive and they provide good contrast to evergreens during the winter months.

The Nana Nandina is a hardy plant which doesn’t require that much effort.  This Nana  is at the edge of a street/sidewalk and brightens this spot beautifully.

In my gardens, I water sparingly and they perform well in our hot summers. During the growing season, the Nana Nandina is nondescript looking, so I like to plant them alongside showy perennials like Turk’s Cap.  This is what one Nana looked like in October planted with a Turk’s Cap,

and here it is now.

I haven’t cut this Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) back yet, so the Nana is peeking out from under and behind its overgrowth.  But had the Mexican Honeysuckle succumbed to a hard freeze, the Nana would be colorful and provide structure in this spot.

I recommend the Nana Nandina as a great plant for the home gardener because of its hardiness, form and especially its gorgeous winter foliage.  It’s also non-invasive and that’s always a consideration for the gardener to make.

For more information about invasive plants in Texas and the Austin area, check out  Texas  This site has a great deal of information about problems that invasive plants cause and solutions to those problems.  It also has links to other sites for lists of plants which are not appropriate for our area and for alternatives that gardeners should use instead.

Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-Up this February 2012.