Foliage Follow-up: May, 2016

I'm a little slow posting my Foliage Follow-up this month, hosted by Pam at Digging. Still fighting a cold. I haven't gotten any gardening done during this lovely cool weather, even though it's perfect for planting. At least I can manage computer work.

Maybe  I should show more restraint in my foliar photo selection, but I just don't want to. Despite having so many flowers this month, I think I've got just as much color in my garden in the form of foliage. More, in some areas.

First up, one of the Sempervivum I purchased from Little Prince of Oregon earlier this spring. I broke them up and planted them in the boxes lining the back deck. Now they're sending out little satellites. Soon I'll have lots to plant out in the garden.

I was so happy to finally get some rain and cooler weather this past week. Temperatures in the 80's (and even 90's) Fahrenheit are just not normal for the Pacific Northwest in April and May. With the return of more typical spring weather, the plants all breathed a sigh of relief. Some even broke out their finery in celebration, like the bejeweled Alchemilla ellenbeckii below:

Sedum 'Antique Grill' captures raindrops beautifully, as well.

One of the two Quercus garryana gifted to me by my friend Tamara at Chickadee Gardens. These make me so happy.

Most of the Quercus mexicana that I planted a couple months ago are finally starting to show signs of life. This one is the furthest along, but most of them look to be coming along, too.

I'm amassing quite the collection of gift plants from other gardeners. That's one of the best things about gardening. It generally attracts pretty nice people. Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea' from Anna at Flutter&Hum. Though the young foliage looks rather more grey than purple with its dense coating of fuzz.

Gentiana asclepiadea has beautiful, textural foliage. Another plant I can appreciate now that the deer are gone.

I've forgiven Eryngium agavifolium for being lazy and lying flat all winter. At least, I've forgiven it until next winter. I've added several small pups of Agave bracteosa to this bed to make up for it.

Taking pictures for this post reminded me that I left off my chronicle of the driveway island and need to get back to writing those posts. I will soon. In the meantime, the redesign is making me very happy with lots of great foliage. Here are a few examples:

Chartreuse and blue/grey/silver foliage is one of my favorite combinations, represented here by Origanum 'Kent Beauty' and a cultivar of Calluna vulgaris.

Adding to the blue foliage, most of the Euphorbia rigida seedlings I planted in fall survived and have taken off with the warm weather. Love that foliage!

More chartreuse and blue/grey/silver, this time with lime thyme and Artemisia abrotanum.

Here's Artemisia abrotanum with Carex testacea in the background. There's a very slight color echo in these two, as the artemisia has a tiny bit of yellow undertone. As the foliage ages, it will have more of an old gold tone mixed in with the grey and the echo will be even better. I need to divide a few of my Carex testacea to replace the divisions that I made early last fall. It stayed hot longer than I thought it would, and a few of them were too stressed from the dividing and heat to make it through winter.

A wider shot of the area with the Artemisia abrotanum. Before I redid this bed, this section was one of my least favorites. Now it may be my favorite!

It still has a lot of filling out to do. Like the Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten' in he middle of that big open space near the bottom of this picture. But I love the mix of grey, chartreuse, and orange. I mis-timed cutting back the Euphorbia 'Nothowlee', but they are resprouting, which will add a dramatic contrast to these colors.

Seseli gummiferum made it through winter with a tiny rosette of leaves atop the stems. Now it's producing bigger and better leaves that look wonderful against the silver-green of Carex comans...

...and even better against the chartreuse foliage of lime thyme. I can't believe I ever thought of trying to remove all of that thyme from this bed. We just need to remember to cut it back so it doesn't get dead patches again.

Moving on from the driveway island into the shade garden. It's not technically foliage, but the leaves of Arisaema nepenthoides are supported by these fantastically-patterned stems that just beg to be studied.

Overhead is a canopy formed by Clethra barbinervis. I have two of these beautiful shrubs, now. The one photographed here is the newer addition, but also the larger one, purchased for a steal from Kate Bryant. This one has much more attractive foliage than the first one I planted, with pink midveins and a curling, canoe-like shape that gives it a very textural appeal.

Athyrium erythrosora, another purchase from Little Prince this spring. Love those orange fronds, especially with the color echo with the stems, new leaves, and undersides of mature leaves on the unidentified Clethra growing behind it, a Far Reaches Farms purchase.

Epipactis gigantea 'Serpentine Night' was a sad discard that I honestly didn't expect to survive the winter, but look! Two stems! The color is just unreal.

Comptonia peregrina is pretty much a favorite at every stage. This ferny, cinnamon-scented foliage is some of my favorite of any plant.

The new foliage of Andromeda polifolia 'Blue Ice' looks even more stunning against the old foliage faded slightly to green after a rainy winter.

Geranium robustum stayed evergreen this winter, with a leaf here and there showing bright yellow to red color. Now it's growing like crazy, which is good because otherwise it would be engulfed by the Cistus 'Snowfire' growing next to it. I'll have to give both a severe haircut at some point.

My patch of Alchemilla alpina from Anna at Flutter&Hum is growing wonderfully now and filling in. Can't wait to start spreading this beautiful ground cover all over the shady areas of the garden. That silver edge to the leaves is so subtle, yet so enticing.

Lovely spotted foliage on Tricyrtis 'Blue Wonder'. It's months away from flowering, but I already love it.

Athyrium niponicum, either from Anna or someone from the local plant swap last fall. Or maybe from Kate. I got a lot of plants last fall. Hard to keep track!

After a harrowing period where I didn't know if my Mahonia 'Indianola Silver' would survive, it's regained much of its silver coloring and is sending out new growth. It got so hot and dry last summer that this plant turned a reddish purple and stayed that way through winter. I thought at least the tallest stem had died at the tip, but even that is sending out new growth. It still doesn't look as good as it should, but I'm tempted to leave it where it is and see if another year of getting established will make the difference this summer. That and a network of drip emitters and/or microsprinklers throughout this bed.

The largest of my three Magnolia 'Silk Road' x insignis seedlings has already grown about two feet this year. The biggest leaves are about a foot and a half long! 'Silk Road', one of the parents, is a big-leaf hybrid, and insignis, the other parent, is an evergreen species. So far, these seedlings have been semi-evergreen in my climate. It looks so tropical, it's hard to believe this plant could be hardy to USDA zone 6, maybe even 5.

I love the texture of western sword  fern (Polystichum munitum) grown in full sun.

 I scattered hundreds of seeds of Phacelia campanulata this spring. The results have been rather patchy and scattered, where they came up at all and survived slugs and unseasonable heat in the crappy "soil" I've mulched most of the new beds with, a nutrient deficient mix of composted bark and sand. I need to throw on some fertilizer and hope that this cooler, rainier weather continues for awhile. One area has been great, though, as shown below. This is discarded soil I've been bringing home from Cistus to build a berm near the road where I'm planting a drought-tolerant screen. Turns out it makes a good home for the Phacelia.

Planted in January, just before a surprise frost at about 20F, this Callistemon viridiflorus surprised me by surviving. And now it's growing!

As are the two Callistemon 'Eleanor' I planted last fall. What's more, they're sending out branches from the base, so no more sad, scrawny twigs in pots! Anything that can respond to truly horrible clay soil like this is a winner in my book. 'Eleanor' can be a little tender in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, or so I've read. Hot summers increase its hardiness, so in that regard I guess I should be grateful for the weather so far, but I think I'd rather just have mild winters.

So I'm now up to three callistemons, with my first one, Callistemon pityoides 'Kosciuszko Princess' now filled out nicely.

Another plant I've found to be great in bad soil are the smaller Podocarpus. 'Blue Gem' has been a favorite for several years. Now it's joined by 'County Park Fire', with brilliant yellow and orange new growth.

Finally, it's not a great picture, but I'm excited nonetheless. Last year I moved this Poncirus trifoliata 'Monstrosa' from an extremely dry, west-facing spot at the edge of the Douglas firs on the far side of the dry creek bed east of the house. Besides being too dry in that spot, some kind of ant kept chewing off the leaves. So I moved it. And then we had an unbearably hot summer and I worried all winter that it wouldn't survive the stress, or would rot in the clay soil of this bed. Look at it now! All leafed out, growing, and no pesky ants chewing off the foliage! (yet)

And so ends another incredibly lengthy Foliage Follow-up. Thanks for reading!


  1. Foliage posts can never be too long. I say, if you got it, flaunt it!

  2. OH my gosh Evan, you have been busy busy! Everything is looking dreamy, especially after the much appreciated rain. Glad the oaks survived, they look wonderful! I have a lot of ideas from this post, thank you! Also, the bed that was your least favorite is looking really great.

    1. This isn't the half of it. I'm looking forward to seeing what ideas you got from this post!

  3. One great plant after another, after another! I'm amazed by that Eryngium agavifolius but it looks as though that one would push my zone. I also love the Epipactis but its thirt would be an issue. Maybe someday I can create a bog garden.

    1. At least you have a wide selection of actual agaves you can plant. There are other eryngiums that have similar long, strappy leaves, too. Maybe one of them is better for your zone. I'm a little worried about the Epipactis even in my garden. I planted it in one of the wettest spots I could find.

  4. What's this about you planting several Agave bracteosa ... yay! And that Epipactis gigantea, I've been lusting after that since seeing it at Dancing Oaks...does this mean Cistus has it?

    1. It's my favorite (hardy) agave, and safe to plant at my parents' house because they won't stab themselves on it. Hopefully they do better than the two agaves I planted last summer. Cistus does have the Epipactis!

  5. Beautiful selection! And still in the look out for an Indianola Silver here!

    1. Thanks! I hope silver mahonias make their way across the pond soon!

  6. Thanks for not showing restraint. If I can't finish reading your post all at once, I get back to it later.
    I think foliage can often be a grater attraction even then the flowers. The fuzz on young Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea' leafs is sweet When can you expect first grapes?. I'm happy to see all your Callistemon doing well; it's a childhood favorite. The Berggarten sage is another favorite. It will do a great job filling in bear spots in the bed. The party will really start when the bees find it's blooms!

  7. No restraint needed or expected! I didn't show any in my Foliage post this month either. There's just too much springy goodness right now. I'm glad to hear you're getting reasonable and seasonable temps now too.


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