Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Foliage Follow-Up - June, 2015

The day after Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day means it's time to give foliage its due. Pam Penick of Digging hosts Foliage Follow-Up to remind us of the importance foliage. I've been going more and more towards foliage in designing my garden, viewing flowers more as exclamation points or highlights than the main attraction. Of course, I've already been parading most of my new foliage plants soon after I acquire them and they're the ones I'm really excited about at the moment, but let's see what else we can find.

Arachnoides simulans is a little-known fern with gorgeous new growth. The fronds emerge bright green with ruddy pink edges. Mine is a small division, but whenever it starts producing spores I intend to help spread this gorgeous fern around.

A closer view of the front to get a better look at the pinkish leaf margins.

Many of my new additions are primarily foliage plants. Below, Carex testacea, Sedum 'Bertram Anderson' and an orange/chartreuse heather create a striking combination with no flowers needed.

Veronica spicata ssp. incana is perhaps equal parts foliage and flowers, though the furry grey leaves with white reverses will last much longer than the tall spikes of blue flowers.
The heather from the previous photo sneaks a couple stems in to photobomb this picture and say, "Hey, I look pretty good with this plant, too!"

With so much exciting new foliage, I can't forget the plants I already have, though. Molinia caerulea 'Variegata', Crocosmia 'Lucifer', and red laceleaf Japanese maple make a wonderful combo, with just a touch of lime thyme peeking in behind the Molinia. You don't even need the red blooms of the crocosmia, though the hummingbirds would mount a furious protest if they didn't appear.

This year I've been looking closely at my abundance of volunteer Carex comans and have noticed a couple of interesting variations. The seedling below is one of a handful of bronze variants. The bronze coloration is more obvious at the base and once you move out to the tips the blades are a striking silver, though not the same silver as the typical color. There are already multiple bronze and olive selections of Carex comans on the market, so I don't need to concern myself with developing these seedlings. But isn't it nice to get them for free?

A better look at the olive/bronze coloration. Carex comans seedlings are rather difficult to photograph, but it's quite attractive in person, especially the contrast created by the darker base and bright tips.

The other variation I've noticed is in the width of the leaves. The two seedlings below are the typical silver-green color, but the one on the left has much wider leaves, making it appear brighter. I'm going to start selectively weeding to keep the wide-leaf seedlings. The finer-leaf seedlings may simply be discarded or I may move them to their own area.

My Xerophyllum tenax is still rather yellow from its harrowing experience with division last summer. Three of the twelve or so divisions survived, so it is most emphatically not a process I will be repeating. However, the yellow foliage does pair nicely with this Eryngium variifolium. This eryngium proved to be very weedy in this bed, so I had tried to weed them all out. After two years of laboriously digging out the long taproots from hard clay soil, I thought I had them all, but this one got past me. I've allowed it to grow and may collect seed from it to sow in the driveway island. I've got some time to think about it, though. I've already noticed some sort of moth or butterfly caterpillars on the leaves, which is another reason I decided to dig out the hundreds of seedlings after the original plants bloomed. They looked rather ratty after being riddled with larvae. I'll reassess this one after it blooms to see if the caterpillar-chewed look is as bad as I remember.

The glaucous blue foliage of Penstemon rupicola makes this one of my favorite native penstemon.

I've commented before on how I consider Verbascum thapsus a weed, but I easily admit it is an attractive weed. I may even upgrade my label for it to "self-sowing biennial." This one and a few others really should have been pulled out though. They're sort of smothering a mountain laurel.

Salvia forskaohlei is another rather weedy plant, but it has huge, furry green leaves and grows even in dry shade. Here you can see the leaves of the salvia with a couple larger hellebore leaves for scale. They can get even larger with a bit more water. Please excuse the weeds. This is in a rather neglected area at the edge of the garden where I decided to see how the salvia would serve as a ground cover in dry shade. Plus it's in a wire cage that was preventing the deer from eating a young Styrax japonica. Now that the fence is up, the cage can be taken off and then maybe some of these weeds will be pulled.

My black and green Ophiopogon is sending out new leaves and it looks like they will be bicolored as well. This was a sport from a patch of black mondo grass that couldn't decide whether to be black or green, with many individual clumps on the fence. I've only had this plant for a year and I want to see how it grows over time to see how stable the color is. It will probably need careful grooming to weed out all green or all black shoots.

The Arctostaphylos silvicola 'Ghostly' I planted last summer survived the winter without any problems, even growing in clay as it is. The new growth is stunning, nearly white with a faint ruddy blush. Unfortunately, I've been unable to take a picture that relates the beauty of this plant to my satisfaction. The photo below will have to do.

And to finish off this follow-up, the silver and copper leaves of Kalanchoe orgyalis. It really earns the common name "copper spoons." The fine, dense hairs that cover the leaves make the foliage sparkle in the sunlight. My plant is small, and my constant ogling probably isn't helping it grow any faster, but I look forward to having a big specimen. The color should intensify as it ages and as new foliage develops under more sun and less water than the nursery was offering it.



11 comments:

  1. So glad you've got a Kalanchoe orgyalis. I saw a rather sad one for sale at Fred Meyer last week and thought about grabbing it for you. However I decided it was just too ugly to gift to someone.

    Love that variegated mondo grass!

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    1. I found mine at Greg's Gardens in Longview this spring. I love it! Thanks for thinking of me.

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  2. No flowers necessary, and you just proved it...not that we don't celebrate them when they do appear.

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    1. Oh yes, flowers are worth a celebration when they appear! But then the foliage is there to carry us through the lulls.

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  3. I love that Molinia-Crocosmia-maple mix and the black and green mondo grass!

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    1. Thanks, Kris. It's a beautiful combo this time of year. I'm working on ways to fill the gaps these plants leave in winter, though.

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  4. Those narrow-leaf Carex that you don't want will get snapped up next year at the next Bloggers Bazaar! Put them all together somewhere in a nursery bed and keep them going till next year, then pot them up to sell. I love the olive/bronze colors on the Carex comans seedlings. And how cool is that black and green Ophiopogon sport? Love it.

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    1. Good idea, Alison! I hadn't thought of that.

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  5. That two-tone mondo grass is awesome! Hope it maintains this unique variegation.

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