Twilight garden for Foliage Follow-Up


Last evening the garden was bathed in the soft glow of a spring twilight. After a day of planting, mulching, and general tidying, I was glad for a quiet moment to just stop and enjoy the garden. The new “monolith” wall has made a handy spot to display a ‘Color Guard’ yucca, I’ve found. I love those stripey, sunshine-yellow leaves.

In front of the wall, and behind the others, I’ve planted ‘Blonde Ambition’ grama grass in sun and Texas sedge in shade, accented with a couple of Indian mallows (Abutilon palmeri) that are tiny right now but will, I hope, put on a great summer show.


Looking the other way it was On Golden Pond, thanks to the low light. ‘Winter Gem’ boxwoods pair off at the path thresholds around the pond, with Texas sedge and lamb’s ear filling in beneath.


On the right, the blue-green leaves of heartleaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata) crowd the path. Soon lavender bloom spikes will appear. Behind the skullcap, a trio of squid agaves in culvert-pipe planters arc around the curve.

For new readers, the shed is really a disguise for the pool pump. Those turquoise double doors? Faux. The real door is on the side. My husband built this beautiful structure to my design and did a terrific job.


I finally planted up this pretty, blue-glass hanging planter, a birthday gift from my friend Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden. What did I choose? Blue-leaved succulents, of course. You might also notice a bunch of blue bottles in the background. I’ve been livening up the shady, dim lower garden with a liberal sprinkling of shiny, light-catching garden art. That’s a double row of bottles on rebar stakes — an honor guard for the stepping-stone path that runs between them.

Why? Because it’s fun.


Stepping back, here’s a wider view of the Mexican buckeye that the planter hangs from. I’ve had that enormous potted Texas nolina for years and brought it with me from my former garden, but now it’s in a new spot, on a ledge of rock between the pool patio and the lower garden. I moved it when I had an outdoor fan post installed by the patio, and now I wonder why I never thought to move it here earlier. I love it in this spot! It has room to spread out its weeping leaves and makes a lovely focal point for the lower garden. To its right is a row of dwarf Barbados cherries.


Now we’re in the lower garden, looking toward the new Yucca rostrata, framed by the wine-colored leaves of ‘Sizzling Pink’ loropetalum. One of these days I will get the weeds under control back here.


A front view, without the backlighting, but I’m still loving the rich coloring. In the purple pot are paleleaf yucca and ghost plant, and in the culvert pipe are squid agave and more ghost plant. The small green shrub with cream variegation is ‘Cream de Mint’ pittosporum, which stays tidy and small.


Another angle on the pond garden, with mass plantings of ‘Color Guard’ yucca, bamboo muhly, fall aster, and more — a tapestry of greens.

So what leafy love is going on in your April garden? Please join me for Foliage Follow-Up, giving foliage its 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.

Foliage Follow-Up: Colorful new pots and plants for spring


Yesterday was one of those perfect days for working in the garden all day long. And that’s exactly what I did, including potting up this beautiful new purple pot with the twistiest paleleaf yucca (Y. pallida) I’ve ever seen. The leaves look like ribbons curled with scissors, don’t they? A ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense), which picks up the purple, will eventually spread and spill over the edge, or so I hope. The heart stones were given to me many years ago by my husband’s sweet grandmother.


An old concrete pedestal gives the pot a lift and a little more oomph in the lower garden. I chose the purple pot to complement the dusky purple leaves of an existing ‘Sizzling Pink’ Chinese fringeflower (Loropetalum chinense). That’s a ‘Cream de Mint’ pittosporum on the left, a cute little shrub for shade.


A wider view shows the newly replanted culvert-pipe planter too. The pipe planter used to hold a ‘Margaritaville’ yucca, but the yucca was looking ratty after a rough move during my stucco wall construction.


Its replacement is one of my favorite agaves for shade: squid agave (A. bracteosa), with wavy, green leaves like tentacles. I underplanted it with ghost plant too.


It’s pretty from every direction, especially with the loropetalum’s fading pink blooms visible in the background.


And now for something different! I recently spray-painted my metal phormium (?) silver because, why not? When it was green it often passed for real, at least in photos. But real isn’t really the point. It’s plant art, and I thought it would be fun to make a focal point out of it. Now it’s what you see as you walk down the steps into the lower garden, and I’ve placed it in a semicircle of ‘Will Fleming’ yaupon hollies, which I hope will eventually form a curved green wall around it, like ta-da!


Meanwhile, Moby the ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave (A. ovatifolia) and its escorts are looking particularly fine, luxuriating in the spring sunshine.


And it’s finally warmed up enough for me to put my new Pilocereus azureus outdoors. You may remember that Reuben of Rancho Reubidoux recently shared this cutting with me. That big nail is an improvised plant stake, keeping it from leaning over until it grows a root system. A golden barrel cactus keeps it company for now.

So what sort of foliage is making you happy in your March 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!

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

If I’d gnome you were coming: February Foliage Follow-Up


Can it already be mid-February and time for Foliage Follow-Up? Here in Austin, winter may yet drop in for a surprise visit, but spring has already stepped inside and hung up her coat and hat. She’ll be putting her feet up on the ottoman soon. I saw a Mexican plum in full bloom today, as well as a row of yellow daffodils. Primrose jasmine is flowering too.

But Bloom Day was yesterday. Today we’re giving foliage special recognition. As is so often the case in my garden, succulents are stealing the show. The little gnome is surrounded by ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense), Sedum acre ‘Elegans’, and coppertone stonecrop (Sedum nussbaumerianum). All three make it through our winters with only a sheet for protection. In the red pot is a Yucca desmetiana ‘Blue Boy’, which I got at Annie’s Annuals a couple years ago. In winter it regains the purple coloring I bought it for (it turns green during our hot summers).


In the cinderblock wall planter, the succulents have held on through winter very well — so far. After last year’s deep freeze, I had to replace many of them, but in mild winters most survive. One is even blooming.

Every time I show the cinderblock wall, people email to ask how the soil stays in the pockets, so here’s my wall-making tutorial. All mystery is revealed there!


‘Blue Elf’ aloe’s blue-green, spear-like leaves are always attractive. As a bonus, at this time of year it sends up asparagus-like bloom stalks, whose tubular orange flowers are just beginning to open. This aloe benefits from a heat-holding wall in winter, and I throw a sheet over it when a hard freeze is expected. Sometimes its flowers are killed by a late freeze, but most years it gives a good show.


So what sort of foliage is making you happy in your February 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.