Shrub trouble for Foliage Follow-Up


I have shrub trouble (shrubble?). No, this isn’t a picture of it. This is my succulent wall, which is doing beautifully this mild, dry winter, and which simply glows in late afternoon light.


Here’s the “shrubble.” One of my favorite evergreens for shade and deer resistance, Chinese mahonia (Mahonia fortunei) has, for the second winter in a row, developed a bad case of powdery mildew. It looks as if a careless painter has splattered it with white paint.


I’m generally laissez-faire about plant diseases and pests, and last winter when the leaves got all mildewy I did nothing and hoped for the best. And it worked — or seemed to. The problem cleared up by summer.


But now it’s back, and worse than ever. I think I’m going to have to take action. Any suggestions?


Rather than end on a sad foliage note, let’s have another look at the beautiful succulents. No powdery mildew there!

This is my February post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on 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! 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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Upcoming Events and News

Join me for my kick-off garden talk for my new book, The Water-Saving Garden, on February 27, at 10 am, at The Natural Gardener nursery in southwest Austin. My talk is called “Hold the Hose! How to Make Your Garden Water Thrifty and Beautiful,” and it’s free to the public. Afterward I’ll have books available for purchase and will be glad to autograph one for you! Dress for the weather, as the talk will be held in the big tent outside.

Look for me on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

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

Sunshine and succulents for January Foliage Follow-Up


I wait all summer for winter days like these. China-blue skies. Warm sunshine on my face, the Death Star tame and friendly. A garden as yet untouched by a freeze — which is unusual, actually. We would normally have had several overnight freezes by mid-January, but so far central Austin remains unscathed.


Which means that all kinds of foliage look pretty good. Of course, Moby, my whale’s tongue agave (Agave ovatifolia), looks handsome all year long.


So does ‘Quadricolor’ agave, the green-and-gold agave in the background, in front of Moby. Surprisingly, one of the soap aloes (Aloe maculata) threw up a bloom spike late in the fall and is nursing it along, despite cool days and several near-freezing nights.


Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) isn’t blooming, but it’s still green. Grassy variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’) is enjoying this warm winter.


I couldn’t resist snapping a few pics of Cosmo, sitting sphinx-like on the wall. That’s more flax lily and ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia behind him.


Squirrel?


What a handsome boy!


I can’t believe forsythia sage (Salvia madrensis) is still blooming this late in the season. Its spade-shaped leaves have a raspy, cat’s tongue texture.


I’m enjoying this combo of potted succulents, ‘Cream de Mint’ pittosporum, and ‘Sizzling Pink’ loropetalum. Paleleaf yucca (Yucca pallida) shines in the purple pot, along with a sprig of cold-hardy ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense). In the culvert pipe, a shade-tolerant squid agave (Agave bracteosa) is still small but will one day sprawl nicely over the edges. More ghost plant crowds around the edges.


I’ve always liked this sun person ornament, partly because its sunburst-shaped head reminds me of an agave’s form. A purple-leaved ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave is partly visible in the foreground. A baby winecup (Callirhoe involucrata), ‘Bloodspot’ mangave, and ‘Frazzle Dazzle’ dyckia line up behind it.


Let’s finish the foliage tour with the cinderblock succulent wall (click for the how-to) on the upper patio.


Sans freeze, the succulents are all looking really good.


I think the cool weather suits them, so long as it doesn’t get too cold.


One last view, with Moby looming in the background.

This is my January post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on 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! 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 © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Grasses and deer-smashes for December Foliage Follow-Up


A hard freeze has not yet walloped my garden, but even if it had I’d still be able to enjoy the plants I’m showing today for Foliage Follow-Up. Take pearl millet, aka ‘Vertigo’ grass (Pennisetum purpureum ‘Vertigo’), for example. This was the most-asked-about plant on my garden tour in October, and it still looks handsome today, even though its dark leaves have lost their warm-season luster. A few tufty blooms poke up here and there, which surprised me since I’d read this plant was sterile and wouldn’t bloom.

I’ve been trialing this freebie from Proven Winners in my garden all year. Click for an earlier post I wrote about ‘Vertigo’.


My most shade-tolerant grass is native inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), which I grow as a tall groundcover in my shady, deer-infested front-side garden.


One day the Texas mountain laurel in the middle will be a spreading ornamental, and the sea oats will be the understory. For now the sea oats are the dominant feature. (Ignore the live oak sprouts coming up in the gravel path, please.) I like sea oats in all seasons: fresh spring sprigs to abundant summer leaves to fall’s dangling seedheads. I leave it standing until mid-February, and when I whack it back, new sprigs are already coming up.


Speaking of deer infestation, a buck has made me very unhappy lately by rubbing its antlers into the crown of my wide-leaf giant hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera ssp. chiangii), which after a few years had attained a beautiful, vase-like form and good height. Imagine my stream of muttered curses when I came outside one morning and saw what he’d done: a smashed center, sword-like leaves torn off, and a flattened plant. Too late, I took action, spraying deer repellent, placing these wire plant supports around the plant for (hopefully) some protection and to prop it back up, and putting out my Wireless Deer Fence posts (more on these later). I hope the plant will recover its form next spring.


Lastly, the Chinese mahonia (Mahonia fortunei) along the foundation and in a hedge along the property line have responded with vigor to all the fall rain. They’ve put out a flush of new leaves, shrugged off a fungal or mildew issue that was beginning to concern me, and are looking great again. Sometimes you don’t have to do anything but just wait out a problem, am I right?

This is my December post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is going on in your garden, or one you’ve visited, 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 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.

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