New year in green and gold: January Foliage Follow-Up


It’s a new year in the garden, and I haven’t really been out in it for a while. An unusually long stretch of cold, gray days had me feeling like I was in Seattle, and let me tell you, it made me feel pretty gray myself. But yesterday the sun came out, the skies turned blue, and with a pleasant chill in the air it was the stuff of winter-in-Texas dreams. So let’s kick off Foliage Follow-Up for 2015! I’ll start with my ever-so-slow-growing Berkeley sedge (Carex divulsa) lawn, studded with a few lemon-lime ‘Margaritaville’ yuccas. I love this little sedge lawn so much more than when it was St. Augustine grass, and I only have to mow twice a year (with a quiet, battery-operated mower). Yippee! If you’re curious about the palm in the middle-back, it’s a Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis), which will eventually fill that spot with tropical-looking foliage.


My pipe-planted toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum) is an FFU favorite of mine, but I have to show it off again but it looks so freaking fantastic, like a giant’s fiber-optic mood lamp shimmering by the front door. I felt like I was taking a chance on this plant when I bought it at Big Red Sun exactly 3 years ago, but boy has it paid off.


At the time (and even today) I rarely saw toothless sotol planted around town, and I wasn’t sure how it would hold up, especially in such an elevated, tight spot. However, it sails through winter freezes and blistering hot summers and only requires watering maybe once every two weeks in summer. I do think that sharp, sharp drainage and lots of sun is key to making it happy. For a laugh, here’s my post about my pipe-planting goof, but you can also see how much it’s grown since I planted it.


In the same space, softening a corner and screening the laundry room window from the western sun, is ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo, which I’m enjoying much more since I took the time to prune it up and show off its golden “legs” last fall. I need to stay on top of the pruning. Bamboo gets waaaay out of hand if you don’t, even clumping bamboo like this.


Foxtail ferns (Asparagus meyeri) in white pots sit atop short cantera stone columns gifted to me by my gardening friend Randy. (Thanks again, Randy!)


More golden foliage is glowing in the newish front-side garden, courtesy of two variegated maiden grasses (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’). Particularly observant readers may notice a lot more sunshine in this area now. Yes, indeed! While having my oaks trimmed last fall, I convinced my neighbor to have the arborist remove a half-dead, truly pitiful, tree-sized red-tip photinia from her side yard. Its trunk was at least a foot in diameter, and coppery, dead leaves clung to it all year, plus it was leaning over my new fence. Once it came down, the whole space was opened up, and now this part of the garden gets a good dose of morning sun, which should make everything quite happy.


What kind of foliage is making you happy in your January garden? Please join me for Foliage Follow-Up, giving foliage plants their 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.

34 Responses

  1. Helen says:

    I do like that Foxtail Fern, I admire it everytime you show it. I doubt I can get it here but will have to check it out.
    Here is my foliage post https://patientgardener.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/foliage-follow-up-january-2015/

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your sotol is gorgeous. It has grown a lot. It obviously likes being perched up there on that pipe. I love the foxtail fern. They aren’t readily available around here. They seem exotic to me because of that. Your stone pedestal is amazing. What a nice gift. Happy FF. http://greenbowgardens.blogspot.com/2014/12/garden-bloggers-bloom-day-and-foliage.html

  3. I always admire your interesting foliage as it is different from what we have here in the northeast. Your sotol is really amazing and I can tell you get a lot of enjoyment from it! Here is how the garden looks here on Long Island in January!
    http://landscapedesignbylee.blogspot.com/2015/01/garden-bloggers-bloom-day-and-foliage.html

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Lee, I delighted in your snow-dusted and ice-crusted foliage pics. Thanks for joining in. Your winter garden on Long Island is absolutely lovely. —Pam

  4. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Your sotol is incredible and your placement of it in that pipe is perfect, not to mention how great it looks with Agave ‘Jaws’ over which I also drool when you post photos of your front entry! Love the foxtail ferns grown that way!

    Isn’t it amazing how wonderful the sun feels (I’ve forgotten) after a long period of gray days?

    It’s a wet Foliage Follow-Up in Soggyville. http://outlawgarden.blogspot.com/2015/01/foliage-follow-up-january-2015.html

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Thanks for giving ‘Jaws’ that shout-out, as I forgot to mention him. He’s growing so fast I’ve started to second-guess my placement of him, since I have to walk by to get to the hose spigot. As you might imagine, he has quite a wicked bite. —Pam

  5. I wasn’t sure I was reading right…that you were excited about more sun in your side yard. I was thinking “but what about the Death Star?” But then I read “morning sun” so perhaps it will escape the heat of the day. Plus getting rid of an eyesore next door must have been wonderful.

    My post is a bit of a mishmash since I realized I was actually covering 3 blog themes (Foliage Follow-up being one of them) all while looking at my mahonia collection:
    http://dangergarden.blogspot.com/2015/01/mahonia-gracilipes-is-my-favorite-plant.html

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I’ve given the sun here quite a bad rap, haven’t I? But when I’m not shaking my fist at the Death Star, I’m wishing a few areas of my garden could receive a little more sunshine, since I have a LOT of trees. Morning sun is especially welcome — not so deadly. —Pam

  6. Alison says:

    I remember when you put in that gravel area near your front door and planted the big pipe and the rusty tractor rim. I think that was the first time I saw a Dasylirion on a blog. My January FF is here: http://bonneylassie.blogspot.com/2015/01/paperbark-maple-for-foliage-followup.html

    • Pam/Digging says:

      The courtyard garden has definitely filled in since those early days. I have one more small pipe to fill this spring though. Thanks for sharing the flaking beauty of the paperbark maple bark! —Pam

  7. I love the look of that Sotol. But, hey, I’d really like to have a green garden right now, in the depth of a dull, grey, New England winter. At least I have houseplants! And I even posted their foliage this month: http://gardenontheedge.blogspot.com/2015/01/foliage-follow-up-january-2015.html

  8. Kris P says:

    I have to look into the Dasylirion for the dry area on the northwest side of our property – I’d try it in the street-side succulent border but I’m afraid it might bite someone. My foliage follow-up provides overviews of areas I’ve planted within the last 2 years: http://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2015/01/foliage-follow-up-favorite-foliage.html

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Kris, this Dasylirion is spineless, hence the common name toothless sotol. Actually, its leaves are somewhat brittle, and it would be more in danger of being hurt by passersby than any people would be. So do give it plenty of room, for its own sake. It gets big! —Pam

  9. Indie says:

    Love the sedge lawn, and the sotol is just awesome! There are a few evergreens in my yard, but I haven’t been outside too much to take pictures – it’s cold out there up here in Massachusetts!

  10. Rebecca says:

    I love your foxtail fern! Looks like something I’ll need to add to my gardening wish list. With no blooms in my garden right now, I’m taking the time to appreciate the greenery in my garden and participating my first Foliage Follow-Up! http://rebeccastexasgarden.blogspot.com/2015/01/foliage-follow-up-january-2015.html

    Thanks for hosting!

  11. hb says:

    So you don’t miss mowing a lawn every week in summer heat? Can’t imagine why not!

    Your Dasylirion looks great in the pipe. The pipe mimics the trunk that will eventually form given enough time. Mine is preparing its very first bloom, so I’m excited!

    I know what you mean about a stretch of grey days–I tend to feel low then also. http://pieceofeden.blogspot.com/2015/01/pink-and-blue-for-foliage-follow-up.html

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I’m really hoping the pipe will not only mimic the Dasylirion trunk but substitute for it. I don’t want this plant to trunk! Hence I water it very sparingly, hoping to encourage sloooooow growth. I enjoyed your blue-and-pink foliage post. Thanks for joining in! —Pam

  12. Lori says:

    I love your sedge lawn! And ironically, I’ve been meaning to ask you about how you deal with any oak sprouts that come up in the sedges. Your sedge lawn has always seemed remarkably sprout-free!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      The sedge area has never been afflicted by many oak sprouts, the way other parts of my garden are. It just depends on the tree. Five or six of my oaks are prolific sprouters. They get a lot of fist-shaking. —Pam

  13. Astra says:

    We moved back here about 18 months ago. The woman who owned the house before us had a love of green, structural forms–not many flowering plants. What I’m loving this winter (and last one) are the hollies. Woody perennials didn’t do well in Colorado because of dramatic temperature swings, winter wind, etc. so the fact that I now have these gorgeous plants with their spiky leaves and red berries is still novel and exciting to me.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Hollies do make winter dreariness much brighter, don’t they? Welcome back, by the way! Will you miss any elements of Colorado gardening? —Pam

      • Astra says:

        Will you miss any elements of Colorado gardening?

        A few things: cold weather bulbs like crocus, tulips, dwarf iris, etc. I’ve found the southern bulbs and am loving them but the first crocus of the spring was such a welcome sight.

        I also miss the dryland plants like agastache, penstemon, lavender, etc. On the flip side, I now have 25+ agave growing outside rather than having to drag them in every winter.

  14. Astra says:

    What I’m not loving: cedar fever. I need to move into a bubble.

  15. Anna K says:

    I do love that Dasylirion so much! It is so cool! My post this month is not so much about what is in the garden right now, but more so some thoughts on one of our newest pests, and those pesky little bastards’ effect on much of the foliage of the Pacific NW. Still, there are a couple of cool foliage pix at the end, so I thought it would qualify – however belated! (It’s been a busy week.) https://flutterandhum.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/pesky-little-buggers-azalea-lace-bugs/

  16. rickii says:

    Elevating the sotol with the pipe planter really gives it dramatic pride of place…stunning, as nearly everyone else has noted. I’m arriving beyond “fashionably late”, but here goes: http://bannersbyricki.com/archives/4290

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