Leafy spring Foliage Follow-Up


In the wake of the bombing in Boston yesterday, putting together a Foliage Follow-Up post seemed awfully trivial, and I didn’t have the heart for it last night, even though I’d already taken my photos that morning. As the wife of a former marathoner, I’ve stood at many finish lines with my children, cheering runners as they lift their arms and sail or stagger across the line. I can’t fathom the evil in a person’s heart that would lead him to maim innocent people waiting for their loved ones in a finish-line ritual that’s inherently celebratory.

We’ll find out who did it and try to understand why. But all that matters is that people’s lives were destroyed yesterday, senselessly. And yet responding with despair about the world or with fear is giving the bomber exactly what he wants. So, as trivial as it is, I’m going on with my post and my daily work, and maybe I’ll make time for a stroll through my garden at the end of the day. And when my son comes home from school, we’ll celebrate his 17th birthday and I’ll give him an extra-long hug and remind myself how precious each day is.


So…Foliage Follow-Up. I bet a lot of readers don’t associate my mostly xeric garden with Japanese maples. I inherited a beautiful one with the house, tucked under the north eave of the house, in the shade of live oaks. Cloaked in fresh green leaves with delicate, rosy stems, the little tree is delightfully lush and graceful as it bends over a dry streambed and a bank of river ferns, which are just beginning to unfurl their fronds.


A wider view from the driveway shows one of my new planting beds. (Yes, it’s covered in leaves and pollen tassels; this is the “drop” season for live oaks.) This used to be all lawn, except for a strip along the foundation of the house. I ran a flagstone path to the gate, making it easier to get the trash bins in and out from behind the fence, and I planted up the whole strip along the drive with low-maintenance, deer-resistant foliage plants like variegated dianella, bamboo muhly, ‘Red Rooster’ carex (I’m trying this out for the first time), Lindheimer muhly, and Chinese mahonia. More pics to come as the plants begin to fill in.


I’m still loving my steel, wall-hanging succulent planters.


In the island bed, heartleaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata) cloaks the ground with its blue-green leaves, wrapping even the Texas dwarf palmettos (Sabal minor) in its velvety embrace. It’ll send up bloom spires soon.


And in the gravel garden to the left of my front door, where grass once struggled to survive, foliage plants reign supreme, like this sparkler-shaped toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum) in a steel pipe planter.

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 © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

26 Responses

  1. Peter says:

    Thank you for this sobering post, a reminder to remember the loss and be thankful for our loved ones in the midst of our celebration of spring green.

    Your japanese maple is, indeed, a surprise. Your Dasylirion longissimum in the steel pipe planter next to Agave ‘Jaws’ is one of my favorite (there are many) combinatons in your garden.

    http://outlawgarden.blogspot.com/2013/04/april-2013-foliage-follow-up.html

  2. Thank you Pam for your post as we do have to go on and not give in to this person who did this horrific thing.

    Well we finally have foliage starting so here is my post Pam:

    http://gardenseyeview.com/2013/04/15/the-first-colors-of-spring/

  3. Holleygarden says:

    Having lost a son a few years ago, it’s heartbreaking to hear of others losing family members so senselessly. Do hug your son extra hard. It’s hard to say that life goes on, but somehow,
    it does. I have joined in with my post:
    http://dreamingofroses.blogspot.com/2013/04/be-patient.html

    Hi, Holley. I wasn’t able to leave a comment on your post without an account (I use the Name/URL option), but here’s what I wanted to say: Patience isn’t easy, especially at this time of year. But you have a lot to look forward to, and beautiful leaves to enjoy now. Thanks for your fun take on Foliage Follow-Up. —Pam

  4. Pam — Mark ran his first 10K last year and we have so many friends who are marathoners. Frankly I need this foliage event to keep some positive thoughts in the forefront of my mind and my day, so thanks for posting. Everything looks great in your garden and I am going to be watching your new sedge project with interest. Congrats on a 2nd printing of the book! http://eachlittleworld.typepad.com/each_little_world/2013/04/foliage-follow-up-4162013.html

  5. It’s an awkward balance isn’t it? The need to honor those who have been killed and injured and let their loved ones know we haven’t forgotten, while not letting the evil behind the act get away with even more destruction in our lives.

    http://dangergarden.blogspot.com/2013/04/fine-foliage-for-foliage-follow-up.html

  6. Daricia says:

    Nicely worded, Pam. Beautiful plants as always. Happy Birthday to your son!

    http://acharlottegarden.blogspot.com/2013/04/fabulous-foliage.html

    Hi, Daricia. Thanks for joining in with your leaf love. I didn’t see a way to leave a comment on your post without a Google account (I use the Name/URL option), but I enjoyed your pics and wish you a happy spring! —Pam

  7. Like you, Pam, I’d drafted my post before I heard the news about Boston last night. What happened in Boston is tragic, heart-breaking, and mind-boggling, a manifestation of evil and ugliness. But at times like this we need reminders that there is also beauty, peace and love in the world. Thanks for hosting foliage follow-up. My contribution can be found here: http://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2013/04/april-foliage-follow-up.html

  8. Nice post, Pam.
    I’ll never, ever understand these people. It’s so senseless.

    Hug that son of yours…daughter, too…real tight. They grow up SO fast.

    Here’s my foliage:
    http://patchworkgarden.blogspot.com/2013/04/foliage-follow-upapril-2013.html

    Hi, Linda. I’m not able to comment on your blog without an account (I use the Name/URL option), but here’s what I wanted to say: We have a lot of the same plants, and yet they look fresh and different in your garden, Linda. Hopefully the deer will find tender new growth in the woods to nibble on soon, and leave your garden alone. —Pam

  9. Tamara says:

    I know that I am hugging my children even closer today than usual. Thank you for the lovely Spring post. Just started my little blog…with hope that it will inspire a little cheer.

    http://dextresgarden.blogspot.com/2013/04/foliage-follow-up.html

    Hi, Tamara. I wasn’t able to comment on your blog without an account (I use the Name/URL option), but I hope you’ll see my comment here: Are you in Hutto, Tammy? I love the hippo mascot — so cute! Thanks for joining in for Foliage Follow-Up this month, and welcome to the blogosphere too. —Pam

  10. Thanks for bringing our attention to yesterday’s events. Thinking a lot about my sister and her husband, Boston residents, avid gardeners, and have run the Boston Marathon multiple times — took this year off. Japanese maple casts the loveliest shade — thanks for sharing. http://portlandtreetour.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/april-2013-foliage-follow-up-delta-park-again/

  11. ricki says:

    Healing words, followed by a good example of how we must all go on and celebrate the good things in life.
    http://bannersbyricki.com/archives/2930

  12. Love that spiky grass in the gravel garden.

    In part 2 of my tale about installing our dry creek bed foliage plays a critical role. Not many blooms there but lots of shades of green.

    http://astudentgardener.blogspot.ca/2013/04/dry-creek-bed-part-2-of-2.html

  13. Dear Pam: Thank you for your wise words and kindness. And thanks for hosting this life-affirming meme. Happy birthday to your son. http://plantpostings.blogspot.com/2013/04/abiding-blooms-and-frozen-foliage.html

    Hi, PP. I wasn’t able to post a comment to your blog without an account (I use the Name/URL option), so I hope you’ll see my comment here: Those first shy leaves poking up give us hope that spring is nearly here. I hope it is for you — and soon! Thanks for joining in for Foliage Follow-Up. —Pam

  14. Jenny says:

    It is hard to understand what such individuals gain from an act of terror. Something that none of us can understand. What happened in their life that they grow up to get pleasure out of such an act. We must continue to go on with our lives. Happy birthday to your son and happy foliage follow up day. It is uplifting to go out into the garden and be with nature.

  15. Jason says:

    For foliage, we have mainly the new growth or our bulbs and perennials. As for the events in Boston, words fail me.

    http://gardeninacity.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/foliage-follow-up-the-fresh-new-leaves-of-april/

  16. Shirley says:

    I wasn’t going to post today until I found an idea by reading Louis’ post.

    http://rockoakdeer.blogspot.com/2013/04/foliage-follow-up-april-2013-black.html

  17. The horrific event in Boston serves as a reminder to savor every day for all the positive joy it brings. Your continuing with Foliage Follow-Up today is one of millions of hopeful steps forward for us all.

    http://mulchmaid.blogspot.com/2013/04/foliage-follow-up-april-2013.html

  18. peter schaar says:

    Well said, Pam. Every word exactly right. Thank you. And thank you for the foliage followup post. The maple is a great gift to inherit, such a wonderful contrast for your spiky garden. The D. longissimum (aka D. quadrangulatum) in the iron container inspired me to put one in one of the cobalt blue egg pots in my “homage a Jacques Majorelle” vignette. It looks almost as good as yours, but not quite.

  19. Amy says:

    Thank you for hosting foliage follow-up, and for your thoughtful words. When something like what happened in Boston upends what we take for granted, there’s something very soothing about routine and communing quietly with the garden. And, yes, remembering how precious each day is.
    http://waitingforplumeria.blogspot.com/2013/04/foliage-follow-up-april-2013.html

    Hi, Amy. I wasn’t able to comment on your blog without an account (I use the Name/URL option), so I hope you’ll see my comment here: I absolutely LOVE your first image! And that artichoke foliage—wow. —Pam

  20. Renee says:

    Thank you for hosting Foliage follow up, and thank you for your words – you said it better than I could have…

    My foliage post this month is various unrelated-to-each-other pictures, mostly just what captured my attention: http://gardeninguptoeleven.blogspot.com/2013/04/foliage-follow-up-april-2013.html

    I wish I could grow a Japanese maple, but it would hate it here, and shrivel up all sad-looking… I'll just stick to admiring yours, and the ones I see in every botanical garden I visit!

  21. Randy Hyden says:

    I sure like the Heartleaf, need some for my garden ! Dirt fever bad here !

  22. Happy birthday to your son :) and happy foliage follow-up to you Pam! My your toothless sotol has grown!

  23. Beth Cawein says:

    I have been reading your blog for a year now, and have just begun my own garden blog. So this is my first Foliage Follow-up post. I’m in a suburb of Memphis, TN. http://whatsthebuzzin.blogspot.com/2013/04/foliage-follow-up-april-2013.html

  24. Cynthia says:

    I do love that Japanese maple. There used to be one at our local library in a white rock garden, but it was finally removed. I’m combining GBBD and FFU (like the acronyms?), because you know how we are these days: all about the multitasking! http://onahayscountyhill.blogspot.com/2013/04/april-showers-bring-april-flowers.html