New year in green and gold: January Foliage Follow-Up


It’s a new year in the garden, and I haven’t really been out in it for a while. An unusually long stretch of cold, gray days had me feeling like I was in Seattle, and let me tell you, it made me feel pretty gray myself. But yesterday the sun came out, the skies turned blue, and with a pleasant chill in the air it was the stuff of winter-in-Texas dreams. So let’s kick off Foliage Follow-Up for 2015! I’ll start with my ever-so-slow-growing Berkeley sedge (Carex divulsa) lawn, studded with a few lemon-lime ‘Margaritaville’ yuccas. I love this little sedge lawn so much more than when it was St. Augustine grass, and I only have to mow twice a year (with a quiet, battery-operated mower). Yippee! If you’re curious about the palm in the middle-back, it’s a Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis), which will eventually fill that spot with tropical-looking foliage.


My pipe-planted toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum) is an FFU favorite of mine, but I have to show it off again but it looks so freaking fantastic, like a giant’s fiber-optic mood lamp shimmering by the front door. I felt like I was taking a chance on this plant when I bought it at Big Red Sun exactly 3 years ago, but boy has it paid off.


At the time (and even today) I rarely saw toothless sotol planted around town, and I wasn’t sure how it would hold up, especially in such an elevated, tight spot. However, it sails through winter freezes and blistering hot summers and only requires watering maybe once every two weeks in summer. I do think that sharp, sharp drainage and lots of sun is key to making it happy. For a laugh, here’s my post about my pipe-planting goof, but you can also see how much it’s grown since I planted it.


In the same space, softening a corner and screening the laundry room window from the western sun, is ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo, which I’m enjoying much more since I took the time to prune it up and show off its golden “legs” last fall. I need to stay on top of the pruning. Bamboo gets waaaay out of hand if you don’t, even clumping bamboo like this.


Foxtail ferns (Asparagus meyeri) in white pots sit atop short cantera stone columns gifted to me by my gardening friend Randy. (Thanks again, Randy!)


More golden foliage is glowing in the newish front-side garden, courtesy of two variegated maiden grasses (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’). Particularly observant readers may notice a lot more sunshine in this area now. Yes, indeed! While having my oaks trimmed last fall, I convinced my neighbor to have the arborist remove a half-dead, truly pitiful, tree-sized red-tip photinia from her side yard. Its trunk was at least a foot in diameter, and coppery, dead leaves clung to it all year, plus it was leaning over my new fence. Once it came down, the whole space was opened up, and now this part of the garden gets a good dose of morning sun, which should make everything quite happy.


What kind of foliage is making you happy in your January garden? Please join me for Foliage Follow-Up, giving foliage plants their due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I really appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it. I look forward to seeing your foliage faves!

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Trying Duranta ‘Sapphire Showers’ for end-of-summer color


My late-summer garden was feeling kind of puny to me last week — before we got the November-worthy cold front yesterday that dropped Austin’s high temperature to 65 incredible-freaking degrees and brought 1-1/4 inches of rain to my garden!!

Sorry, I digress.

Before that blessed weather event happened I was feeling the late-summer doldrums, as I always do before our weather breaks in October, and so I was easily snared by this beautiful, tropical-style perennial that was waving at me at The Natural Gardener and promising to deliver flowery beauty to my summer-weary garden.


It’s Duranta ‘Sapphire Showers’, and I have to admit it’s really not my usual style of plant. It’s thirstier than I would normally buy, probably requiring twice-weekly watering to keep it going in summer. It can be cold-tender in pots. I figure I’ll enjoy it through the rest of the summer and fall and, assuming it returns in spring, however long it lasts next summer, when I tend to travel a bit and expect my plants to get by on once-a-week watering, or less if necessary.

Despite all those caveats, I’m enjoying the grape-like clusters of violet flowers on arching stems. I need to plant a groundcover underneath it though — maybe ‘Silver Falls’ ponyfoot? Then I could enjoy Sapphire Showers and Silver Falls, which has a certain ring to it.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Succulent and cactus container garden thrives under Death Star: August Foliage Follow-Up


Two months ago I acquired another steel pipe remnant and set it in the gravel garden by the front door. There it sat empty for nearly 8 weeks as I traveled and debated what to plant in it. Finally, taking my own advice not to plant anything in August except cactus, I decided on an opuntia.

I was one of only two customers at The Natural Gardener yesterday at 5 pm in 102 F heat. Blech. Well, the Death Star can set its laser beam on high and still not harm this cute bunny ears cactus (Opuntia microdasys). ‘Jaws’ agave, next to it, doesn’t mind the heat either, although it may have a little sunburn. Behind both is a beautiful pine muhly (Muhlenbergia dubia), a passalong from Michael at Plano Prairie Garden.


This is becoming quite a spiky forest. I need to stop.


I did pick up one more little cactus for my sadly underplanted steel wall planter, Coahuila lace cactus (Echinocereus pectinatus var. coahuila).


Well, that helps a little. Birds have been nipping leaf-pads off the ghost plant. Grr.


In contrast, my Hover Dish planter has filled out beautifully this summer. The tall succulent is blue chalk fingers (Senecio vitalis), with a graptoveria and jelly bean plant (Sedum rubrotinctum) beneath and ‘Blue Spruce’ sedum spilling over the edge.


Foxtail fern (Asparagus meyeri) and a dyckia add more fun foliage below.


Also out front, along the driveway, this chartreuse cloud of bamboo muhly (Muhlenberia dumosa) caught my eye yesterday afternoon. What a beautiful light-catcher!

So what lovely leaves are making you happy in your August garden? Please join me for Foliage Follow-Up, giving foliage plants their due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave your link to your Foliage Follow-Up post in a comment. I really appreciate it if you’ll also include a link to this post in your own post (sharing link love!). If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.