New Year’s wishes for the garden


As we ring in 2012 tonight, here’s to a happy and bountiful new year in the garden.


May you have plenty of beckoning flowers


And glowing foliage


Enough rainwater to slake the garden’s thirst


Sunny days to lift your spirit and a shady spot to sit and enjoy this beautiful world.

Happy New Year!

All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Agaves green up the winter garden


Southern gardens traditionally rely on evergreen shrubs for winter structure and greenery. In my Southern meets Southwestern garden, agaves serve the same purpose. Pictured here is ‘Moby,’ the white whale of my garden—‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave (A. ovatifolia), whose broad, cupped leaves, each serrated with thorns and tipped with a spike, arch gracefully and play with shadows.


Diminutive ‘Queen Victoria’ agave (A. victoriae-reginae) reigns over her own small kingdom: a raised bed where her symmetrical perfection and neat, white edging lines can be better appreciated.


Chunky, triangular, white-edged leaves are eyecatching in any season.


Is Moby jealous? He waves his flukes in the blue light shining through the bottle tree, showing off a bit.


Long-limbed variegated American agave (A. americana var. mariginata) lets its snazzy yellow and green stripes do all the talking. Unlike the other plants pictured here, this agave is somewhat cold-tender in Austin. It can take hard freezes, but not prolonged ones, and last winter’s extended freeze killed off its predecessor. Luckily this variety is a dime-a-dozen around here and a fast grower. It also pups (creates offset baby agaves) frequently, and those often survive under their mother’s skirts after a hard freeze.


Manfredas, or false agaves, also earn a place in my garden, along with beautiful cousins like mangaves (agave-manfreda hybrids). Pictured here are the wavy-edged leaves of ‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda and the freckled rosette of ‘Bloodspot’ mangave. Gray santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus) softens the pairing with its feathery texture.


I took these pictures yesterday afternoon, my first foray into the garden in more than a week, as I’d been so busy with Christmas preparations and visitors. While the grasses and perennials are brown or frost-blackened, the fresh greens (and yellows, burgundies, and blues) of these spiny beauties reminded me why I love them so.

All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Christmastime Autumn leaves for Foliage Follow Up


Although Christmas is only a week away, fall color is just now peaking in Austin. Buttery yellow cedar elms, rusty red oaks, and, in my garden, a red-orange Japanese maple brighten the neighborhood along with colored Christmas lights. Yeah, it’s a little disconcerting, but officially it is still autumn.


So, what foliage is inspiring you today? Join me in posting about your lovely leaves of December for Foliage Follow-Up, a way to remind ourselves of the importance of foliage in the garden. Just leave a comment here with a link to your foliage post, and please include a link to Digging in your post. If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it.

All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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