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.

Spiny fingers for Foliage Follow-Up


Amid the crazy busyness of December, I’m opting for a quick and easy subject for my monthly Foliage Follow-Up post: a cute, orange-spined, somewhat profane-looking cactus in a goofy, skeleton-decorated Rick Van Dyke pot. Sometimes you just have to indulge the whimsy.

What kind of foliage is making you happy in your December 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 © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Evergreen foundation garden for Foliage Follow-Up


What won’t block the windows and grows no taller than 3 feet? What remains evergreen? What can live in shade? What won’t the deer eat? These are the foundation-planting questions that haunt generations of gardeners (or me anyway), especially those in the South, where we expect the garden to be green year-round, those who must share the garden with deer, and those dealing with shade.

I’ve got a foundation combo that works for my particular circumstances, which I’m especially liking since I recently sprinkled Aztec grass along the front edge; its bright variegation keeps all the greens from getting too heavy. Notice I didn’t add “drought-tolerant” to my conditions above, since my home lacks gutters and these plants get waterfalled (is that a word?) when it rains, plus a dry stream in front funnels runoff from the driveway. My happy combo includes, from left to right, ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia (Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’), ‘Sparkler’ sedge (Carex phyllocephala ‘Sparkler’), ‘Everillo’ sedge (Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’), holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum), and Aztec grass (Liriope muscari ‘Aztec’). Just out of frame on the right is a pair of lovely Chinese mahonia (Mahonia fortunei) and more Aztec grass.

I should mention that ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia and Aztec grass have not proven deer-resistant in my larger garden, but here along the house they’ve been unmolested. And I used to hate ubiquitous holly fern for its lumpy form and inevitably browned fronds, but I may be coming to terms with it at last. I mean, anything the deer won’t eat can’t be all bad, right? The ‘Everillo’ Carex was sent to me for a free trial by Southern Living Plant Collection, and I dubiously plopped it in the ground thinking it would dry up and blow away by summer. No doubt it’s a testament to its north-facing, shady, dry-stream location, but this golden, diminutive sedge has thrived with once-a-week watering in summer and looks great.


And while it’s not a foundation plant, it could be! I love foxtail fern (Asparagus meyeri), and it works so well in pots. This one sits on my front porch, begging to be stroked by any passerby, and now it’s producing pretty, red berries, which gives it a festive look.

This is my November post for Foliage Follow-Up. What lovely leaves are making you happy in your November 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 here. 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.