Foliage Follow-up

This week I'm posting a late edition of Foliage Follow-up, hosted by Pam at Digging. Typically posted on the 16th of every month, I was busy elsewhere and didn't even get all of my photos taken/assembled until yesterday. Spring is a busy time of year for gardeners, even if spring in the Pacific Northwest seems to be unfolding at a nearly glacial pace this year. While the blooms have become numerous enough again that it's a struggle to fit them all in one post, I'm most eager for new foliage and for everything to simply grow.

The cottonwoods and alders down in the valleys are leafing out rapidly, and the bigleaf maples are in full bloom. Meanwhile at 500 feet elevation, the alders still look bare and the buds on the maples are just starting to swell. It's amazing what a difference a few hundred feet and even just two or three degrees difference in temperature can make. While my high temperatures have been struggling to reach 60F, the lower elevations have had much more frequent temperatures of 60 to 65F, and it makes a huge difference in how fast spring progresses.

So I'm still eagerly observing new growth, silently urging it to grow faster. Here are some of my favorite bits of new foliage in the garden.

Blechnum penna-marina ssp. alpina is a tiny ground cover fern, much shorter than its name. The new growth is a bright pinkish color.

A native volunteer Luzula (guessing parviflora or multiflora) appeared in one of my patches of Satureja douglasia and I love the fresh green new growth. It's very much a spring green.

I love the golden fur on the new leaves of Magnolia globosa. They emerge upright and folded in half, so you get a good view of the indumentum before they unfold. The first year or two I had it, it suffered some tip damage during winter. It seems to have increased in hardiness, as it's completely fine after this hard winter.

One of my Mahonia eurybracteata is growing, with fiery red new growth on purple stems. This seedling matures to a metallic green, not quite silver, but still pretty. My silver eurybracteata has yet to put out new growth, but I still expect it to make a drastic improvement this year in its new location.

The next two photos are of plants I purchased at Hortlandia on Saturday. I should have included a photo of the third plant I purchased that day, a Helleborus foetidus 'Sopron', as it's a beautiful foliage plant. Ah well. There's always next month.

I love the furry knuckles of the tightly-furled croziers on Cyathea cooperi. This tree fern is decidedly not hardy in my climate, not even worth trying. At $6 for a gallon-size plant (plus several babies in the pot) it was too good to pass up (though I nearly did, trying to be "practical").

And my other purchase at Hortlandia, Opuntia cacanapa 'Ellisiana', the hardy, (nearly) spineless prickly pear. It does have a few glochids, but they seem unusually reluctant to leave their pad, unlike most glochids that are far too eager to transfer to unprotected skin. Yes, anyone who knows me can now give me a hard time. I've intentionally purchased a hardy cactus for the garden. Previously, my only hardy cactus was an Opuntia humifusa that hitched a ride in a pot as a loose pad, which I tossed in a garden bed on a whim and allowed it to grow.

I'm keeping the cactus in the greenhouse until spring decides to get a bit warmer and drier. While we're here, lets admire the silvery foliage of the Lupinus sericatus seedlings that are growing so well. They'll become even more silver, like that one leaf that's catching the light, after they're planted out in the garden.

Moving outside, I'm enjoying the new shoots of pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) emerging here and there throughout the garden. My seed sowing a year and a half ago was highly successful. The foliage is almost white when dry, and turns green in the rain.

The several dozen divisions of Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold' I planted last fall are coming up now and I can finally start to see my vision for this bed coming to life. It still has a ways to grow before I'm ready to show a wide shot, though...

And I'm still absolutely loving the young shoots of Macleaya microcarpa. Turns out it's one of those plants that holds water droplets well. I know these will eventually spread (possibly like wildfire), but I kind of want to add to my two little starts already. Gardeners are not always patient.

It's wonderful to see Acer circinatum leafing out again. I love this small native tree, one of my absolute favorites.

I've been calling this Pieris 'Mountain Fire', but while removing some deadwood I actually came across the tag, which says 'Forest Flame'. I knew it was one of those two, at least. I don't know how much difference there really is between those two cultivars. Whatever, that new growth is amazing!

The ajuga is exploding. I got this variety from my friend Anna at Flutter&Hum, but I've forgotten the name. The pieris in the previous photo also came from Anna's garden.

I have many large, healthy Primula bulleyana popping up this year. They've grown up from the seedlings they were a year or two ago and have been absolutely loving the rain. The flowers are just starting to appear in the center of some of the rosettes, but I'm just enjoying this bright green rosettes for now.

Another ajuga. This one is Ajuga pyramidalis 'Metallica Crispa' which goes by a host of other names. It's my favorite ajuga. Slower to spread than A. reptans varieties, and fairly small (those are crocus leaves sticking up through it), it has the most amazing, shiny, textured leaves.

I received a large gift of Adiantum venustum from a friend last year and planted the divisions mostly in one bed. I was a bit worried, as they didn't do much last year, but they must have been busy underground. Lots of happy new growth!

Like several other gardeners in my local group, I'm enjoying the furry umbrellas of new Syneilesis x hybrida foliage.

I've spent the last two weeks looking at photos of bamboo and wishing I had left room in the garden for more than the four varieties I have. I wonder if this latest obsession will last until I start my next garden. I think it might. The photo below shows the slender culms of a young Fargesia nitida. I love the contrast of the dark canes and tan sheaths.

This beautiful new growth belongs to a Callistemon 'Woodlander's Hardy Red' I purchased during a recent trip to Little Prince of Oregon (post to follow, eventually). The warmth of the greenhouses (even unheated greenhouses) allowed this plant to start growing. My other callistemons are showing buds slowly starting to swell, but that's it.

Here's 'Woodlander's Hardy Red' again, in a wide shot that shows one of my newest plantings. It's sparse right now, but I think it has promise. I've been dividing my bronze Carex comans to spread around here, interspersed with Mahonia nervosa, a red-flowered Phygelius, and Alstroemeria 'Glory of the Andes'. The swath of green in the back is all seed-grown yarrow, underneath Heptacodium miconioides. I should probably transplant some of that. Behind the callistemon is one of four Cordyline australis that I've added to the garden this year. Hopefully I didn't plant those too early. I don't want them to rot in the cold, wet soil, but I just couldn't wait any longer. Actually, even though these plants can be killed to the ground in winters like the one we just had, I kind of want to plant more...

Native Polypodium scouleri, newly purchased and added to this north-facing rock and stump wall outside the Acer griseum bed. They'll look great with the moss as they fill in.

I love the bright green iris shoots emerging amongst the bronze Carex comans. Hmm, I still have lots more of that I could divide...

It took far too long for the new shoots to appear on Molinia caerulea 'Variegata' after I cleaned up the old stems, but I'm so happy now that they're flushing out. Did I mention I've been rather impatient this spring?

I'll end with a favorite combination showing lush,bright new growth: native Asarum caudatum and (not native) lime thyme. Thyme and wild ginger, not really a combination that one would think of, given their different cultural needs. I planted the thyme around the base of the central planter in the driveway island. It's a bit shady here on the northeast side, but it seems to be doing fine. The Asarum seeded in right against the wall from the plants growing in the planter above and is very happy. What can I say? I'm happy that they're happy. This is also my Wednesday Vignette for this week, hosted by Anna at Flutter&Hum. Happy spring!


  1. My Heptacodium miconioides branches have tip die back each winter. does this happen to yours. Why have i never heard of or seen Molinia caerulea 'Variegata'? It is beautiful. The Lupinus sericatus seedlings are adorable yet elegant with that silver sheen. Does it get powdery mildew like other lupine?

    1. My Heptacodium has old flower stems on it that look like die back, especially where the ends of the inflorescence have broken off leaving a long, unbranched stub. They aren't the tidiest trees. I don't know yet if Lupinus sericatus gets powdery mildew. I grew it for the first time last year, and I didn't notice any, but it was only one plant. I don't notice much, if any, mildew on the native lupines, though, so it doesn't seem to be a big problem in my garden.

  2. Wow, looking great despite the stupid cold (we've set a new record here in Portland for the latest date to have NOT reached 65...yuck). I'm so glad people I know scooped up the $6 tree fern deal. I think I was one of the first at that table (I was in at 8:30) and at one point I had two of them in my flat. Then I put them back...

    1. I'll bet you're looking forward to that 70 degree day on Saturday even more than I am. I thought I saw Paul or Sean say something about 66 degrees, but maybe the sun was shining on their thermometer. ;-) I went back to that table a second time after I got my tree fern with Andreea from the Gerdemann Botanic Preserve and she got the last one.

    2. Well there is a lot of asphalt around Xera, and we all know Sean lives in the Portland tropics. Since the official recording sight is so near me (the airport) I'm going with it.

    3. I'll go with that, too. Seems more realistic. Portland isn't usually THAT much warmer than my area.

  3. I have an unlikely combo like that too. It's Vancouveria hexandra growing against the blue-green strappy foliage of a Siberian Iris. Totally different cultural req's, but somehow they both appear happy. And I love the looks of them together! The Ajuga you got from me is Black Scallop. And so glad to see the new foliage of Forest Flame - it always thrilled me!

    1. Unlikely combinations are so much fun, aren't they? And they're good reminders that many plants are more tolerant than what our books tell us. Thanks for the name on the ajuga! I'm glad to see Forest Flame blooming and growing well this year. It had a tough time settling in. I think it missed you. :)

  4. Love the clean new look of your blog not to mention the green new foliage in your garden. Spring is working its magic beautifully! Although heat loving plants aren't too happy about our cold season, blooms are lasting longer and that tired late summer look that sometimes creeps into my garden will take longer to get here.

    1. Thanks, Peter! Both good points in favor of the cool weather. I've been reminding myself of both of those, and that my many new plants will need less water this year, but I am still eager for the trees to leaf out and plants to start growing.

  5. When it finally warms up there, I expect your garden is going to explode! I'm impressed (and envious) that your Lupinus sericatus is so robust - mine, planted 7 months ago, doesn't look much bigger than your seedlings.

    1. I think you're right. Things are starting to show early signs of exploding. I'm really looking forward to it. I hope your Lupinus sericatus decide to grow.

  6. What a lot of wonderful foliage color and texture you have -- especially that "golden fur" on the magnolia and the red growth on the mahonia. Thanks for joining in for Foliage Foll0w-Up!


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