Foliage Follow-Up: Dynamic xeric gardens in Serene Hills


Billowy, chartreuse clouds of bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa), shimmering balls of Yucca rostrata, Mickey Mouse-eared prickly pears, feathery firecracker fern (Russelia equisetiformis), and a silver carpet of ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea): could you ask for a more striking, drought-tolerant garden for a full-sun, fast-draining site in central Texas?


Believe it or not, this is the entry garden for the Serene Hills neighborhood in Lakeway, just west of Austin. Designed by Curt Arnette of Sitio Design, the plant combos are ripe for emulation by any central Texan with a hot, sunny, rocky slope where traditional lawn grass fails to thrive.


Aside from summer color provided by the firecracker fern, a creamy yellow lantana, and red yucca (below), all the color and interest in this bed comes from foliage.


Spiky or feathery, stiff-leaved or cascading, blue-green, olive-green, chartreuse, or silver — leaves are the show-stoppers here.


One of my favorite vignettes is also one of the simplest: Agave (americana?), ‘Green Goblet’ agave, and spineless prickly pear (Opuntia), backed by bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa) and underplanted with wooly stemodia (Stemodia lanata).


Curt also designed this contemporary re-imagining of a mission bell tower, a focal point along the neighborhood’s main drive. Broad, terraced steps edged with Corten steel and paved in pale gravel are punctuated by a desert-style landscape of Yucca rostrata, red yucca, cholla, and prickly pear — all foliage plants with bold forms and extremely low water needs.


Another view


Annual spicy jatropha (Jatropha integerrima ‘Compacta’) and perennial lantana offer spots of seasonal color, but they can’t eclipse the shimmering yucca heads as they catch the last light of sunset.


Gotta love that fab foliage!

Please join me in posting about your lovely leaves of October 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 © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Green texture for September Foliage Follow-Up


I know I keep coming back to this part of my garden for Foliage Follow-Up, but I just can’t help it. Planted earlier this year, its growth has been explosive, especially of the silvery groundcover pictured here, our native wooly stemodia (Stemodia lanata).


Here’s another look. Silver-green leaves spread on rooting stems, and tiny, lavender flowers appear throughout the summer. The color complements the silvery green hue of the ‘Green Goblet’ agave.


A wider view reveals the velvety texture of giant mullein (Verbascum thapsus) leaves, tiered up the base of bloom stalks that have soared to 5 feet over the course of the summer. I can’t walk by without petting them.


One more step back and you see even more green texture, including the yellow-green of a new variegated miscanthus and the kelly green of the Berkeley sedge (Carex divulsa) lawn at right. So many greens, so much great texture. The bees are enjoying the flowers atop the mullein and those sprinkled amid the stemodia leaves, but I’m not missing any big floral show.

Please join me in posting about your lovely leaves of September 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 © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Berkeley sedge for Foliage Follow-Up


I’ve promised a post about my new Berkeley sedge (Carex divulsa) lawn, but it’s filling in so slowly that I keep putting it off, waiting for better “after” pics. I swear I will post all about it this fall. But in honor of Foliage Follow-Up, here’s a teaser photo. I planted Berkeley sedge specifically for its tousled, meadowy texture, and I love that it’s finally getting thicker.

In the foreground there’s more good, leafy texture with giant mullein (Verbascum thapsus) and wooly stemodia (Stemodia lanata).

Please join me in posting about your lovely leaves of August 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 © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.