Fresh greens and purple power for Foliage Follow-Up


Chartreuse and dark gray make a trendy combo that’s as pleasing in the garden as in the home. Evergreen Texas sedge (Carex texensis) practically glows in spring with the addition of nubby seedheads.


A wider view shows purple heart (Tradescantia pallida) romping through the sedge, with the orange and green of Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) in the background. Although the sedge–purple heart combo is an accident — the purple heart resprouted from an earlier removal — it makes a nice color echo of the dark gray wall, as a visitor pointed out to me last fall.


Speaking of purplish gray, ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave is looking fine. Pink knotweed (Persicaria capitata ‘Magic Carpet’), which I randomly planted in this dappled-shade spot a few years ago, makes a good partner for it, with a color echo and contrasting leaf size and form. Unfortunately, the knotweed has never taken off. Perhaps the soil is too dry.

Now that I see the possibilities of small pink flowers and low, narrow leaves to contrast with the muscular, eggplant-colored mangave, I’m wondering if pigeonberry (Rivina humilis) would be a good native substitute. I think I’ll try it.


Hulking over the scene (you can see a bit of the mangave at left) is Moby, my whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia). I’ve paired the glaucous agave with other favorite foliage plants that can handle dry soil and dappled shade: variegated flax lily, foxtail fern, ‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda, ‘Bloodspot’ mangave, and santolina.

This is my March 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.

I welcome your comments! If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.

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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Come meet me at Zilker Garden Festival, Austin, TX, April 2 & 3
Come see me at Zilker Fest between 10 am and 2 pm, on both Saturday and Sunday, at the Author Booth (near the main building entrance), where I’ll be signing and selling my books ($20 each). Zilker Fest offers all-day entertainment, vendor shopping, plant sales, demonstrations, live music, a beer garden and food vendors, children’s activities, a garden train, a flower show, and a docent-led tour of lovely Zilker Botanical Garden! Click here for full details.

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

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

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.

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