Foliage Follow-up: July 2016

I keep trying to find new things to show for foliage follow-up, but I feel like I keep getting drawn back to the same plants every month. So I really tried to get a few new things in this edition, and perhaps some new angles on some old subjects. Thanks to Pam Penick at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-up every month the day after (more or less) Garden Blogger's Bloom Day to remind us of the importance of foliage in the garden. Now onto my customary foliar smorgasborg.

I know I haven't shown this one before, though I've been ogling it at every opportunity for a couple weeks now. The orange new growth on Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ogon Nishiki'  is positively drool-worthy. I need more!

Cussonia transvaalensis, aka the grey cabbage tree, was very green when it arrived from Annie's last fall. Now it's taking on some distinctive grey tones. I happened to look at the picture I took when it first arrived, and was amazed at how much it's grown.

Crassula alba var. parvisepala has wonderful red-patterned foliage. I almost lost it this winter in the too cold and humid greenhouse. Glad it pulled through!

Begonia 'Little Brother Montgomery' and Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spears' are continual favorites.

This Phlebodium aureum was a hitch hiker in an orchid that I got a couple years ago. It wasn't even an inch tall then. Despite some setbacks, it's now over a foot tall and the rhizome is starting to branch. One of my favorite hitch hikers in a pot ever.

I did eventually plant out the Glaucium flavum var. aurantiacum I grew from seed. I tried a variety of locations. They're all still alive, but most of them are barely larger than when I planted them, obviously protesting their placement and my negligent watering during our scorching late spring. At least a few of them are growing well.

I now have large amounts of Matthiola fruticulosa ssp. perennis 'Alba', especially in the Acer griseum bed. They won't bloom until next year, but they have beautiful grey foliage that's worth having for itself.

The delicate foliage of California poppies. I should have taken a picture of one of the really blue-leaved plants. Next month!

 I've started experimenting with some of the naturally-occurring carex on the property. This is one of them, though I'm not sure of its identity. It seems to occur in locations that are wet to only somewhat moist in winter but that can be very dry in summer. They all seem to have this bright chartreuse color. I'll keep working on trying to identify it. There's a second species, not shown, that has much broader, darker green leaves that seems to enjoy growing right at the bases of the Douglas firs in the dryer areas. Of course, none of my books have particularly extensive sections on native carex, and I'm not particularly good at identifying grassy things to begin with, so they may remain mysteries. Hopefully they become useful ones, adding to the mix of low ground covers that I'd like to establish in many places.

I know I've shown this chartreuse Corylopsis seedling before, but I'm just so happy with it. It was a random seedling I found under a Corylopsis spicata. It was a fairly typical green then. It turned yellow in some rather terrible potting soil, and I wasn't at all sure what it would do when I planted it in the ground. It's been a couple years in the ground now, and it's kept this amazing color. It's also growing very strongly.

I've joined the giant dandelion crowd (it's a very exclusive group). I was given two of these Dendroseris macrophylla while I was working at Cistus. They took awhile to get going, but now they're taking off. It will be interesting to see what they do.

Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies' sent out another flush of new growth, bigger than the first. I love the reddish color and the texture of the leaves.

Comptonia peregrina remains one of my favorite plants. That foliage texture... I was surprised to find it had set seed this year. I guess they're self-fertile. It's also sending out copious new plants around the base via rhizomes.

Can't help loving the bronzy brown Carex comans seedlings that appeared spontaneously from my silver-leaved plants.

An accidental foliar mosaic of Leptinella squallida 'Platt's Black' and Antennaria microphylla. The leptinella invaded the antennaria. Hopefully they'll play nicely, as I rather like the contrast.

Leptospermum lanigerum 'Silver Form' delights with it's structure, texture, and grey leaves on red stems.

My favorite California fuchsia, so far at least, Zauschneria 'Wayne's Silver'. Surprisingly tolerant of clay and winter wet, and lusciously silver. It also has a wonderful low, compact form.

Taller and not as shiny, though just as grey, Zauschneria 'Catalina' is also doing well in clay.

The bright chartreuse new growth of Erica arborea 'Estrella Gold' is shocking emerging from the top of the faded brown flowers.

Geranium harveyi is turning into one of my favorite ground covers. Here it is forming a pool of molten silver on west-facing clay slope with a bright green Erica and a woolly grey-green Calluna vulgaris. It's a trouble spot where few things grow well. So far, heaths, heathers, and Berberis x stenophylla 'Corallina Compacta' seem to be the most successful, with Euphorbia rigida showing promise. I think this geranium may be the best yet. The euphorbia and geranium offer some much-needed textural variety to the heaths and heathers.

Further along the front of the house, in loose, sandy/silty soil, it's growing equally well with orange Carex testacea. It's a bit taller and looser in this soil. Still wonderful, but I think it's actually better on that awful clay slope.

Geranium harveyi, Carex testacea, Erysimum, and Thymus 'Fragrantissimus'. I love the colors and textures here.

Carex testacea, Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten', Artemisia abrotanum 'Silver', and lime thyme. The new palette of the driveway island, installed last year, continues to provide visual delight.

I really love this artemisia. It has a similar texture to Artemisia 'Seafoam', just without the curl, but it has a more intricate play of colors, with cool greys and warm golds intermingling.

Lime thyme, Euphorbia 'Nothowlee' (Blackbird), some sort of weedy grey Gnaphalium that I've adopted as a desirable, and Carex testacea. So much color and interest, and it's all foliage.

Lupinus sericatus, like Lupinus albifrons on steroids and even more molten silver. My little plant had a couple spikes of flowers. I collected most of the seed, so hopefully I'll have more plants next year.

Sesseli gummiferum backed by lime thyme. Love that feathery blue foliage.

An orange Calluna vulgaris, Berggarten sage, a particularly blue-grey Erysimum, and some contrasting dark green Erica foliage. In some ways, this bed could use more of that regular green, both to pacify and contrast with the other colors. Parahebe perfoliata and Geranium 'Dark Reiter' peek in at the top right, and there's just a tiny touch of flowers from the Origanum 'Kent Beauty' in the lower right.

 I always love the combination of dark laceleaf maple foliage and Asarum caudatum, augmented here with a bit of lime thyme and a weed like irish moss.

And I'll leave you with this vignette of Carex testacea surrounding Salvia officinalis 'Purpurascens', with an Erysimum in the background. Something, or a combination of somethings, was chewing on the salvia for most of the spring. It's only in the last couple weeks that the salvia has managed to outgrow the pests, or they've slowed down in their feeding. I'm surprised it was a problem with this salvia, as herbs are usually relatively pest free. It was a fairly minor annoyance, though, and I still want more of this beautiful purple foliage.


  1. You can repeat yourself all you'd like as you always serve up a beautiful collection of foliage plants. I just put 2 of those in your post on my Annie's wish list. I'm really trying to hold out on another purchase until the worst of the summer heat is behind us here but there's no telling as to whether I'll be successful with that goal. I love all the foliage combinations you shared too.

    1. Thanks, Kris! Ooh, what did you add to the wishlist? The lupine? The crassula? Harvey the geranium? Can't wait to see what you add to the garden this fall! I'm trying to hold off on any more plant acquisitions until fall, too, though I do keep meaning to peruse the sales tables at the big box stores for discount herbs like sage to put in this fall.

  2. Wow! That's a lot of delectable foliage - so many interesting and beautiful plants!

  3. So many gorgeous foliage plants you have there, especially the comptonia!

    1. Thanks! I should see if I have a photo of the comptonia when I first got it. It's incredible how well it's filled in.

  4. I've flirted with Astelia chathamica 'Silver Spears' but never bought one, why not? Must correct that, soon. Also your Artemisia abrotanum 'Silver' is quite attractive. Where did you find that one? Oh and I must try Lupinus sericatus again. So much good silver in your garden!

    1. Oh, probably because it's a bit tender and you've only so much room in your winter shelters? Then again... I got mine at Cistus. It's part of my "Brookings collection" that I'm assembling for when I move. It's an aspirational collection.

  5. Don't hold back, Evan. Your foliage plants are looking splendid! I'm especially fond of your sedges, especially that golden one.

    1. Thanks, Pam! I do love the sedges. There's at least one for any situation!


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