Foliage Follow-up - April, 2016

The day after Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is dedicated to appreciation of foliage, when Pam at Digging reminds us of the importance of foliage in the garden. With spring full upon us and blooms abounding, it's easy to get over-excited about the flowers and overlook the emerging foliage that will carry the garden through the coming seasons.

So it's only fitting that I provide a glut of foliar photos after my lengthy bloom day post yesterday, right?

This Cryptanthus I picked up at Portland Nursery on Division is coloring up with the stronger light of spring. It's starting to look more like the 'Red Baron' that I tentatively identified it as after finding some labelled plants at the Stark location during their houseplant sale. The pattern of silvery trichomes down the center of the leaves, and the overall shape and habit of the plant were the same, but my plant is mostly green while those were completely red. Many bromeliads change color according to the lighting conditions they're grown in.

 Last summer I moved my Poncirus trifoliata 'Monstrosa' (aka Flying Dragon) and was worried it might have been over-stressed, but it's leafing out again! Hopefully those nasty ants that were chewing the leaves off in its old location by the woods don't find it here.

I planted this Callistemon viridiflorus, which my boss insisted I have (he really had to twist my arm) in January, not expecting the drop to 20F that came a week or two later. Most of the leaves turned brown on the south side, and I was worried, but this tough little plant is growing after all. Not bad for an 8" tall twig in a 2" band planted in winter.

I love the orange blush on some of the foliage of Cornus alternifolia 'Wstackman' (aka Golden Shadows).

It may be odd to appreciate senescing leaves in spring, but I am anyway. With all the evergreen oaks I've been planting, I'm going to have to get used to fall in spring. I'm ok with that. I love fall. The Quercus mexicana that I so violently dug and transplanted from the display gardens at work have mostly dropped all their leaves in shock, though the stems and buds remain firm and healthy looking. The three Quercus suber (one shown below) are full of golden highlights as the oldest leaves start to drop. It's really a rather beautiful effect, and an unexpected one in spring.

I scattered seed of Phacelia campanulata all over the garden a couple weeks ago. The cotyledons are speckled like little oblong pebbles. Most of them aren't sown this densely. Obviously I didn't use any kind of spreader, and my hand-sowing got them a bit thick here.

Alchemilla alpina is my favorite in the genus for the silvery edges of the rich green leaves. Thanks to Anna at Flutter & Hum for sharing this with me!

Another gift from Anna is this Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea'. We chopped off a lot of its root system when we dug it out of her garden, and I eyed it worriedly all winter, but the buds are finally swelling. The heat this weekend should produce some actual growth.

I love the foliage of Cotinus 'Grace', from the moment it emerges to the very last leaf that drops in autumn.

Purplish-pink new stems are emerging thickly on my Parahebe perfoliata, even up to 6 inches from the main plant. It's more of a spreader than I thought, but I'm happy with that.

Last summer, a friend shared with me a tuber of Tropaeolum speciosum. I planted it in front of my Arctostaphylos sylvicola 'Ghostly'  on the south end of the house, over a foot deep (you'll find recommendations for planting the tubers about 18 inches down) in compacted clay soil. I did add a bit of gravel to the planting hole, but I worried that the hole would become a well, full of water. The Arctostaphylos has thrived there for several years, but I didn't plant it 18 inches deep. It has the opportunity to keep its roots near the surface, and is fairly clay tolerant to begin with. So I was amazed to find this popping up, a shoot of the Tropaeolum! This is one tough plant! If you can find it, it's worth trying.

Not as densely-furred as when they emerged, the expanded foliage of this Syneilesis hybrid is still attractive in its unique shape.

I scattered seed from my Primula bulleyana in the new shade beds last fall. Now they're popping up. In a couple years, the show will be amazing. Planting a large garden often requires a lot of patience.

Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies' has shown its appreciation of being rescued from the Tough Love sale at Cistus by nearly doubling in size with one spurt of growth.

I love the new growth on pieris. This one is another from Anna's garden. She wasn't confident about her memory of the cultivar (that never happens to anyone else, right?) but thought it was 'Mountain Fire'.

Hydrangea quercifolia is my favorite hydrangea. Love those leaves!

This variegated Davidia involucrata, a Dan Hinkley selection, is always a favorite.

Alison, do you recognize the Acer circinatum you gave me? It's leafing out beautifully. You'd never know it sat in a pot all crispy last summer.

I'm still giddy over all the plants that are growing, realizing they won't be mowed down by voracious deer. This Vaccinium parvifolium, or red huckleberry, will actually be able to grow this year.

Same for this Amelanchier alnifolia, known locally as saskatoon. So many native trees and shrubs will be able to grow more than a half inch this year because they are protected by the deer fence.

The flowers of Epimedium wushanense are nice, but the real reason I grow this plant is for the foliage.

The rare reticulated form of Gaultheria shallon? No, just a generous coating of Douglas fir pollen. The heat wave last week seemed to cause all the catkin-bearing plants to release their pollen all at once. Everything was turning yellow. My sinuses and I are thankful for the rain this week, clearing the air at least for a time, and washing most of the pollen off the foliage.

Geranium 'Dark Reiter' popping up through Hutchinsia alpina provides a strong contrast.

I've shared this vignette before, but I still love it. The Carex comans has grown considerably since the last time I showed it here. Eventually it may cover the Asarum caudatum entirely. The asarum probably wouldn't care, especially with summer coming, but the vignette would be lost.

Seseli gummiferum persisted through winter with a small rosette of leaves atop their stems. With the warmer weather, larger leaves are emerging.

With no thirsty deer to hoover them up last summer, my sedums are growing lush and full. Sedum oreganum shown here.

Running along one side of a dry creekbed in the driveway island is this swath of Sedum spathulifolium and Sedum spurium 'Red Carpet', with a few Sempervivum mixed in.

This is one of the "weeds" I allowed to grow out of curiosity. It turned out to be a perennial, or perhaps a biennial. Maybe it will bloom this year and I'll find out what it is. I love the silver foliage.

Bits of Satureja douglasii that I transplanted last fall are bursting with growth in one of the shade beds started on last summer.

The emerging foliage of Tricyrtis 'Blue Wonder' has attractive purplish mottling.

I just planted this Heucherella from Little Prince a couple weeks ago, and I'm already having trouble remembering the name. Hunting down the label would take too much time.

The Heucherella above is a nice compliment to the warm coppery new growth and stems on this Clethra species from Far Reaches.

The purple new foliage on Acer metcalfii is a favorite of mine.

My Schefflera taiwaniana lost most of its leaves by the end of last summer, and it had grown so well, too. I'm glad it's leafing out again. I feared, stressed as it was, that it wouldn't survive winter. This year I need to remember to fluff the mulch in this bed and work the soil with a garden fork a bit, so that summer irrigation can penetrate deeply. Setting up a better system than a clogged soaker hose would be a good idea, too.

Vaccinium ovatum seems to be settling into this bed nicely, though. I need to get more of these.

With the emergence of new foliage, I suddenly find myself forgiving 'Seafoam' artemisia it's winter deciduousness.

Melianthus villosus surprised me by coming back from the roots. When the top died, I assumed I had killed this plant a second time.

I planted a variegated yucca of unknown identity in the spot I previously grew Dracunculus vulgaris. Apparently I missed one. It will have to go, because it's blocking the yucca, which has held a bluish purple color all winter. In summer it has a beautiful bluish green-on-green variegation.

Golden, fuzzy new croziers emerge on Polystichum setiferum Divisilobum Group. If I had been on top of things, I'd have harvested the plantlets forming on the older fronds to share at the Portland Garden Bloggers' spring swap. Maybe I'll have them ready for the fall swap.

Last week I was fretting over the seeds I had sown, fearing they would dry out while I was staying in Portland for part of the week. Thankfully, my dad was on vacation and was able to keep things watered. The heat and moisture resulted in lots of seedlings of native bunchgrass and wildflowers. Like the Phacelia, I got a few spots a bit too thick, like this bit shown below.

Quercus douglasiana 'Cache Creek Form', from Cistus Nursery, may well be my favorite foliage in the garden right now. Fuzzy, pale blue green, with purple edging. Tiny black spiders seem to be enjoying it, too.

 Did you know Catalpa bignonioides 'Aurea', the golden catalpa, starts out purple? News to me. I like it.


  1. Your posts always remind me that I lack imagination when it comes to my foliage collection. I love that Cornus 'Golden Shadows' but I suspect it wouldn't enjoy my zone or my soil. I'm also very envious of the Callistemon viridiflora - after looking for one here for months, I gave up an settled for a C. pinifolius, which may or may not produce green flowers. It's confined to its nursery pot until it shows its true colors.

    1. Awe, that's flattering, but I think you're being too hard on yourself. You can always order Callistemon viridiflorus from Cistus!

  2. Wow so much beauty and yet it's that silver leafed weed that I find myself drawn back to...

    1. It's a pretty little weed, isn't it? Maybe this year I'll find out what it is.

  3. Lots of good foliage plants, Evan, I will have to be on the lookout for some of them, like the Artemesia 'Seafoam'. Your mystery silver fuzzy plant looks like the Lychnis coronaria that seeds itself along my driveway but doesn't seem to spread elsewhere.

    1. It could be Lychnis. I think one of the neighbors has it. The foliage isn't quite right to me, though.

  4. In Austin we have a rather fall-like spring too, at least those of us with live oaks. I'm finally done with raking up all the fallen leaves, thank heavens. I love that carex-asarum combo, but you have lots of great looking spring foliage.

    1. Thanks, Pam! My oaks aren't big enough to make a mess, yet. I wonder if I'll regret this exuberant planting of them when they are...naw.

  5. I hope my recent seed sowings will be as successful as yours. Do you do a lot of thinning, or let nature take its course? That dark leav ed geranium is stunning.

    1. I haven't really done direct sowing before, other than vegetables like carrots, so it's all an experiment for me. Most of the areas I sowed aren't nearly as thick as the area I showed. That's just a spot where I clumped things a bit, accidentally, but it made for a more impressive picture. I don't plan on thinning. I want it to be a bit too thick at first to help reduce weeds from sowing themselves in. Most of the areas I scattered seed also are lasagna mulched with cardboard and about 4-5 inches of soil on top, so I'm not sure how well things will grow, either. I'll be doing a lot of watering, I think.

  6. You are lucky to be able to grow Callistemon. I'll be looking forward to seeing more of this plant. The leaves on Cornus alternifolia 'Wstackman' are very attractive. I love dogwoods of all shapes and forms.

    1. You should be able to grow Callistemon, too. Is size or hardiness the issue for you? The solution to both would be the smaller cultivars of Callistemon pytioides, like Kosciuszko Princess. Hardy to zone 7 and grows very slowly to 3 feet tall. Potentially 6 feet, but like dwarf conifers, it takes a long, long time to get there.


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