Summer-tough Foliage Follow-Up


Summer is my most challenging season as a gardener. Yes, really — not winter. I don’t care at all for hot weather, so I retreat indoors and don’t venture outside much until that first hint of cooler air and lessening of the Death Star that typically occurs in early October. (And then I enjoy being outdoors from October through May, a good 8 months, so don’t feel sorry for my being cooped up all summer. It’s like a northerner’s winter.)

The plants in my garden don’t have the luxury of hanging out in the A/C, so they’ve got to be tough enough not only to withstand months of 95-to-100-degree heat, Gulf Coast humidity, and (sometimes) lack of rain but also the neglect of a summer-wimpy gardener.


I fear perhaps I overshare about such plants, like an adoring parent with a precocious child, but here I am again for Foliage Follow-Up, touting the beauty and toughness of winter-hardy agaves and succulents, like this container combo of Agave parryi var. truncata and Manfreda maculosa, aka Texas tuberose, a South Texas native. Neither heat nor cold has touched this slow-growing small agave. While the purple-spotted manfreda died back in last winter’s freezes, it sprang back quickly in the spring.

I also really like the ‘Quicksilver’ artemisia (a trial plant from Proven Winners) filling in around them. I don’t know if it would be overly aggressive if planted out in the garden, the way ‘Oriental Limelight’ artemisia can be. But in a container it’s perfectly behaved and looks great even when I forget to water. I’m growing this combo in bright shade with a little afternoon sun.


Another combo I’m always appreciative of in the summer is variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’) and Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera), which are not only heat tolerant but shade tolerant and deer resistant. They aren’t quite as winter hardy as I’d like in Austin’s hardiness zone 8b; both died back messily during last winter’s Arctic blast. But hey, they came back this spring and now look great, and on a hot summer’s day, what more can one ask of the garden?

This is my July post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is happening in your garden this month? Please join me in giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I’d appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Summer solstice evening


A pink sunset through the trees drew me outside this evening, but then I got sidetracked by the garden, including this pretty combo of ‘Color Guard’ yucca, Mexican oregano (Poliomintha longiflora), and ‘Vertigo’ pennisetum, which has been a successful trial plant from Proven Winners for me, returning more faithfully each spring than regular purple fountain grass ever did.


Nearby, like outstretched hands, our native Texas dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) waves hello.


As the garden goes to sleep on the summer solstice, our shortest night of the year, I give thanks for summer’s official arrival…and shorter days to follow. Take that, Death Star!

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

A little winter greenery, and trying to find a plant I love


It’s been raining since last Friday, so I thought I’d share a few garden pics taken before the deluge. This is one of my favorite combos for winter and indeed all year long (clockwise from top): ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia, Everillo sedge (Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’), and ‘Sparkler’ sedge. (The glossy leaves on the right are holly fern.)

‘Soft Caress’ mahonia stays low, about 2 feet high and wide, and the sedges are even smaller, making for a lovely foundation-height combo for shade or light morning sun. ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia has been nibbled by deer in other parts of my front yard, although not here next to the house. If you have a serious deer problem, it’s probably not bulletproof. The sedge has been very deer-safe for me.

This combo has been so successful and admired by visitors that I’d like to replicate it in other parts of my garden. Alas, while ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia is relatively easy to find at local nurseries (it’s part of the Southern Living Plant Collection), the sedges are proving elusive. Southern Living sent me the ‘Everillo’ sedge to trial in my garden a couple of years ago, and I haven’t seen it locally since then, although you can order it directly from their SL Plant Collection.

‘Sparkler’ sedge (Carex phyllocephala ‘Sparkler’) is even harder to find. Once widely available in Austin nurseries, it’s been MIA for a year. I called several local nurseries last week to find out why, including The Natural Gardener and Shoal Creek Nursery, and learned that there was just one grower of ‘Sparkler’ sedge for all of Texas, and it got flooded out earlier this year, losing its stock. The grower told the buyer at The Natural Gardener that they have no plans to wholesale ‘Sparkler’ sedge again any time soon. What?? It’s crazy that such a wonderful plant for dry shade in central Texas isn’t available. I searched for an online supplier, but every place is sold out or sells only tiny 4-inch plants. It’s a slow grower, so I really wanted a few 1-gallons. I guess I will be forced to divide my existing plants, even though their slow growth means I’ll have to be very patient for a few years.


Moving on, here’s a little cactus and succulent combo in a wall planter. The leggy ghost plant is climbing the back of the cactus and resting on top, like a succulent flower!


Catching a few rays of sunshine last week, the fan-like leaves of our native dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) add drama and year-round greenery.


They seem to be peeking through their fingers at the sunrise, don’t they?

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Need a holiday gift for the gardener, new homeowner, or environmentalist on your list?
Please consider giving one (or both!) of my books. They’re packed with plenty of how-to info for newbies as well as lots of inspirational photos and design ideas for more experienced gardeners! Order today from Amazon (Water-Saving Garden / Lawn Gone!) or other online booksellers (Water-Saving Garden / Lawn Gone!), or find them anywhere books are sold.

“In an era of drought and unpredictable weather patterns, The Water-Saving Garden could not come at a better time. With striking photographs and a designer’s eye, Penick shows us just how gorgeous a water-wise garden can be. This is the must-have garden book of the year!”
Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants

“This thoughtful, inviting, and thoroughly useful book should be required for every new homeowner at closing. It has the power to transform residential landscapes from coast to coast and change the world we all share.”
Lauren Springer Ogden, author of The Undaunted Garden and coauthor of Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Follow