Succulent lusciousness for Foliage Follow-Up


After the deep freeze that Austin experienced last winter, I had to replace three-quarters of the succulents in my cinderblock wall planter (click for the how-to) this spring. It’s still a bit sparse, but it’s nice to see all that pinchable — like a plump baby’s cheek — foliage settling in, knowing it’ll sail through the dog days of summer with only an occasional sprinkling of water.


With some extra cuttings, I filled my red Circle Pot, which hangs amid the live oaks for a dash of hot color in the dappled shade.


And the tapestry of succulents in my new Hover Dish is growing well — on one side, anyway. I’d neglected to turn the pot around so that both sides get light, but I remedied that yesterday evening.


I think I get more questions about the toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum) in the steel pipe than any other plant in my garden. Toothless sotol is not commonly grown in Austin, although you do see it around. This one came through the winter with absolutely no damage, and it just laughs at the Death Star.


Plus it’s shaped like a 1970s fiber-optic light. What’s not to love? The toothy agave in the tractor-rim planter at its feet is ‘Jaws’.


Variegated Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia ‘Variegata’) is a relatively new addition, an impulse purchase from Vivero Growers. I like its verticality. I did have to cage it last fall and winter, fearing that the deer would antler it to oblivion.


Of course not all my plants are spiky and succulent. The Japanese maple (a species Acer palmatum) delights me in spring with leaves that glow like stained glass. Native river ferns (Thelypteris kunthii) are coming up at its feet.


Also glowing with new growth are a trio of giant mullein (Verbascum thapsus) in the raised bed out front. Their fuzzy texture is irresistible to one’s fingers when passing by.

Please join me in posting about your lovely leaves of May for Foliage Follow-Up, a way to remind ourselves of the importance of foliage in the garden on the day after Bloom Day. Leave your link to your Foliage Follow-Up post in a comment. 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.

Fixing a floppy Will Fleming yaupon for Foliage Follow-Up


‘Will Fleming’ yaupon (Ilex vomitoria ‘Will Fleming’), a fastigiate cultivar of our native yaupon holly, is one of my go-to vertical accent plants. It’s a green punctuation mark, ideal for adding height to a flat bed or using in multiples as a narrow hedge to screen an ugly view. In sun or shade it’ll grow to 10 or 15 feet (I like to give mine flat-top haircuts at about 6 feet tall) but only 1 to 2 feet wide. Sometimes, however, the outer branches go a bit floppy, ruining the vertical shape.


Like this — not the look I was going for.


You might think this calls for the pruners. Stop! Put the pruners down and grab a pair of scissors and a spool of fishing line instead. Tie one end of a length of fishing line loosely around a branch, leaving room for the branch to grow. Loosely wrap the fishing line in a spiral around the body of the tree, thereby creating a neat column again. Tie it off, taking care not to tie or wrap any part of the line tightly. You don’t want to strangle your tree. A gentle touch is all that’s needed.


And voila! A columnar ‘Will Fleming’ is restored.


One more time — floppy!


And fixed!

‘Will Fleming’ yaupon is my Foliage Follow-Up featured plant this month. Please join me in posting about your lovely leaves of April for Foliage Follow-Up, a way to remind ourselves of the importance of foliage in the garden on the day after Bloom Day. Leave your link to your Foliage Follow-Up post in a comment. 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.

Zoom out, zoom in for Foliage Follow-Up


Hey, all you leaf lovers! Today is Foliage Follow-Up, and I had fun with my zoom lens in two foliage-driven sections of my garden. Oh, who am I kidding? All of my garden is foliage-driven. Sometimes I regret not having a big, seasonal flower display, but I’m generally content with pops of flowers amid a tapestry of green and blue-green foliage. Especially when the foliage is big and bold!


Regular readers will recognize Moby, my ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave (A. ovatifolia), the big boy in the center, now approaching 6 feet in diameter. Swimming alongside Moby are a school of smaller agaves — from right to left, ‘Quadricolor’ agave, Agave stricta, and Queen Victoria agave (Agave victoriae-reginae) — as well as ‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda and ‘Bloodspot’ mangave.

(As a sidenote, did you know that I keep a list of all the plants in my garden in I’m Growing… under the Resources tab, with links to my plant-profile posts? Please visit if you’re curious to know more about any of my plants. Over time I hope to profile all of them.)


And zooming out all the way, the bottle tree comes into view. My bottle tree is not only a nod to a Southern folk art tradition but also a stylized agave bloom spike — my own version of SXSW!


Turning the camera on another section of the garden, here we see a mellow-yellow, leafy combo starring ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo, with supporting actors ‘Color Guard’ yucca and Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima) in the blue pots. Texas sotol (Dasylirion texana) and ‘Bright Edge’ yucca add strappy foliage in the background.


Zooming in, the supporting players assume a more prominent role.


And up close, the variegated ‘Color Guard’ yucca is the star.

Please join me in posting about your lovely leaves of March for Foliage Follow-Up, a way to remind ourselves of the importance of foliage in the garden on the day after Bloom Day. Leave your link to your Foliage Follow-Up post in a comment. 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.