Foliage Follow-up

Today I finally join Pam Penick of Digging for Foliage Follow-up, a chance for leaves to show that they are every bit as ornamental and fascinating as foliage. Be sure to stop over at her blog to see more fabulous foliage. Various combinations of life have prevented me from joining foliage follow-up until now, but I'm so happy that the stars have aligned and I'm finally making a foliage follow-up post. As much as I enjoy flowers, I am a firm believer in foliage and structure (natural or hardscape) carrying the day in gardens. 

I find foliage of even more importance when choosing container plants, both indoors and outdoors.
A perfect example of how foliage can fascinate resides in this young leaf of Begonia 'Old Blue'. On a fully expanded leaf, these hairs are spread out and are of only minor note compared to the opalescent sheen of the leaf surface. But in the unfurling leaves, they create a tiny crystalline forest in a bowl-shaped valley. 

Hoyas not only have endlessly fascinating flowers, they also have diverse and attractive foliage. This hoya, which I believe is Hoya 'Minibelle', has leaves that can be 7-8 inches long, dark green with white speckles. I love the patterns made by the light shining through them.

Begonia 'Starry Night' never fails to please. It didn't miss a beat after being shipped across the country during my move.

My newest begonia, 'Little Brother Montgomery' catches my attention whenever the light shines through it's jagged, maple-like leaves.

Chamaeranthemum venosum was displeased with the shipping (and a little with it's aftercare until I caught up with it) but it finally perked up and has responded with a bumper crop of flowers and, even more importantly, it is finally producing new leaves. This small, tropical member of the Acanthus family can be hard to find except for a handful of mail-order sources that offer it occasionally, which is surprising given the beautiful foliage and tough constitution.

This is my favorite Cryptanthus in my small collection. The leaves have a thick, almost succulent area along the midrib that leads me to believe this is Cryptanthus fosterianus, rather than the thinner-leaved zonatus. Either way, I love the stiff leaves radiating out in a star-like shape, giving this genus its common name of earth stars and the warm brown and white crossbanding.

One of my latest acquisitions is this Cunninghamia lanceolata 'Glauca' or blue Chinese fir. This is one of my favorite trees. It bears some resemblance to monkey puzzle trees, but in addition to plain green it comes in this gorgeous powder blue.

I was so happy to find one of these. It can be hard to locate. Mine came from Garland Nursery just north of Corvallis, but it was the last one they had at the time.

While not as stiff as monkey puzzle trees, the needles of Chinese fir are still quite sharp. Take that, deer!

While Petasites japonicus var. giganteus frightens me a little with it's spreading habit, the enormous leaves are beautiful when backlit by the sun. Besides, I do have 5 acres to fill (though I hope this butterbur doesn't fill them all itself).

One of my new rhododendrons, 'Gartendirektor Glocker' which I chose for the neat, attractive foliage and red new growth rather than the pink flowers.

I love watching the light shine through the blades of variegated purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea 'Variegata'.

The blue color of this heather (Calluna vulgaris) is enhanced by wooly white hairs catching the light.

A slightly different view of yellow Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold') from below showing the light shining through.


  1. Great foliage post! I haven't seen hoyas with long leaves like that before - will have to be on the lookout for them. And I love the woolly look to that heather, too. Beautiful photos all around. :-)

    1. Thanks, Kim. I got that hoya from my college's library in undergrad. It also has flowers that, to me, are not as overpowering or cloying as Hoya carnosa. The heather is a sport I selected myself from clippings that rooted and mutated.

  2. Welcome to Foliage Followup! Your Begonias are lovely. I've grown Petasites. Don 't be surprised if your joke about it filling your five acres comes true.

    1. Thanks, Alison! I know, I've seen Petasites growing in very harsh conditions and hardly slowed down at all.

  3. Beautiful foliage shots, Evan! I'll be interested to see how that Chinese fir grows. Seeing your begonias makes me miss the Rex begonias I had in my former, shady garden - I'll have to look around for a safe place to try them here. And I've always admired the huge leaves of the Petasites, although I haven't a prayer of growing them here even if I had the space.

    1. Thanks, Kris. I suppose even if you could provide the water for them, the winds would shred petasites in your area. I'd love to get some of the begonias hardy in my area, but I think the deer and slugs tag-teamed my grandis into oblivion when I tried that one. Have you ever seen a mature Chinese fir with the lower branches left on? It's amazing. Not only do new shoots form from the base, but the branches root and produce upright shoots where they touch the ground. The result is a totally enclosed grove you can crawl into. There's even a springy, though rather prickly, carpet of old needles and branchlets underneath. Some people don't like these attributes but I love them. I've even read about people cutting them down at ground level to rejuvenate them. They resprout quickly and grow fast. This would be a way to grow them in saller gardens.

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