Leaf love for Foliage Follow-Up

I hope you’ll join me today for Foliage Follow-Up, the day after Bloom Day when we celebrate leaves, bark, seedheads, etc.—plant characteristics often overlooked in favor of flowers. Share your favorite foliage for October, and then leave a link here in the comments so we can find your post.

My favorite foliage this month varies between lush and strappy. Lush is a bit of a rarity in my xeric garden. The biggest leaves usually belong to spiny agaves. But I have a little lushness in the combination pictured above: the broad, palmate leaves of variegated tapioca (Manihot esculenta), paired with the long, thin leaves of Mexican weeping bamboo (Otatea acuminata aztecorum).

This pretty, leafy groundcover for shade is called red dragon knotweed (Persicaria microcephala), a passalong from RBell at The Lazy Shady Gardener. Planted in the heat of summer and watered only when I remembered (not often), this tough plant rallied and grew.

And with the cooler weather, tiny white flowers have appeared.

The leaves of purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) are a strappy explosion of purple, burgundy, and green at this time of year.

Softleaf yucca (Y. recurvifolia) foliage is more understated, but subtle lines run the length of the leaves, like strie. It’s quite pretty.

Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica) ‘Blue Ice’ and ‘Adagio’ miscanthus grass make a silver-and-gold combo in the sunny hillside garden.

Last but not least, the purple-freckled leaves of a ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave pup. I just love this plant. Cold-hardy (it survived last winter’s 17 degrees F in the ground, uncovered), heat-hardy, drought-tolerant, able to grow in light shade, beautifully shaped—just give it sharp-drained soil, and it will wow you. I had this one planted in too much shade under live oaks until recently, and it didn’t die but it sure didn’t look happy. As soon as I moved it to a sunnier spot, it perked right up and the purple freckles returned. Much better!

All material © 2006-2010 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

22 Responses

  1. Darla says:

    I love the variegated leaf to the right in the first photo and your silver and gold combo is so delightful too. We had that 17 degree winter blast here last year too. I wonder what this season will bring? Watching the squirrels it appears it’s going to be artic like again, sigh.

  2. Hi Pam, What lovely photos of your garden, i especially like the contrast of ‘Blue Ice’ and ‘Adagio’ – they look so fine and delicate but I imagine both are workhorses in your garden. I just posted pictures of the foliage in my garden and the leaves of my oakleaf hydrangea are starting to get speckled, just like your ‘Macho Mocha’. http://gardenofpossibilities.com/2010/10/16/foliage-follow-up-october-2010/

  3. Paul says:

    I did my first GBBD yesterday, and would have followed up with a foliage post, but the weather in Sydney has left me with precious little to show. I’ll try again next month. I think my purple fountain grass will have recovered enough to post.

  4. Amy says:

    It is a great feeling to move a plant and watch it thrive in a different spot. Your foliage is all very pretty!
    Also, I enjoyed looking at your Austin Spa garden tour. It is such a beautiful, relaxing place! I have been there once and had a wonderful time…of course. :)

  5. I love that Persicaria. The flowers are more dainty than I usually associate with members of that family. I wrote about the Japanese forest grass you admired when you visited in September. http://eachlittleworld.typepad.com/each_little_world/2010/10/foliage-follow-up-10162010.html

  6. The Yucca and Macho Mocho are very pretty. I wrote my Foliage Follow-Up post today about light, shadows and texture.

  7. Kanak says:

    Hi Pam, my post is up now. I love your foliage photos. The variegated tapioca is familiar but I’m not familiar with the other plants. The grass looks lovely!

  8. I love the contrast of the arizona cypress and the miscanthus – this time of year is so beautiful!

    Thanks for hosting Foliage Follow-up. I wasn’t going to post but you inspired me to get out in the garden this morning even though time was short. I’m so glad I did – it was a beautiful morning and the light for photographing was gorgeous! http://www.thewhimsicalgardener.com/2010/10/foliage-follow-up-few-stand-outs.html

  9. Macho Mocha sounds like something that might even work here in Portland OR. Guess I will need to be on the lookout for it. http://bannersbyricki.com/archives/1245

  10. Karen Mangan says:

    Foliage-the unsung hero of the garden! Great shots!

  11. Beautiful, as always, Pam. This time I am linking to my friend Rob Baldwin’s blog. Rob has a nursery here in NS. and I just did a post on evergreens for him at http://baldwinnurseries.blogspot.com/2010/10/fall-winter-colour-evergreens-part-1.html. Seems appropriate for Foliage Followup Day!

  12. David C says:

    Nice idea to showcase non-floral interest, too. But in my true form, I am “coloring outside the lines” a bit on the “foliage” term. Hope that’s OK. A funky, warped prickly pear is posted at: http://desertedge.blogspot.com/2010/10/warped.html

  13. gardener says:

    Hi Pam
    Love the purple and green combos this month pics. It’s getting frosty here, but the colours are heating up.

  14. David says:

    Wow! Love those variations on variegations! Red dragon knotweed is a new one to me. I’m going go hunting for it. Your garden is always on my favorites list.
    I’m up and running for this month’s Foliage Follow-up. http://tropicaltexana.blogspot.com/2010/10/foliage-follow-up-for-october.html
    David :-) in Houston

  15. RBell says:

    Glad the Red Dragon Knotweed is doing well for you – aren’t the little white flowers fun? And your ‘Macho Mocha’ certainly is looking happy. Here’s my contribution to Foliage Follow-up:

  16. Hi Pam,
    I enjoyed seeing your foliage. I just learned that your red dragon knotweed is related to painter’s palette, which I grow, and a red blooming knotweed that I recently got seeds for from a local friend. I think my favorite one of yours is the plants in the first photo.

    Here’s a link to my foliage post:


  17. Hi Pam,
    I have posted my first Foliage Follow-up post! Thanks for initiating this. I hope you get a chance to check out my post. I have the persicaria red dragon in my garden, too, started from just a cutting from a friend’s garden. It has returned faithfully for years. I also love the Variegated Tapioca! Jimmy Turner with the Dallas Arboretum says that it can handle blistering burning sun, and he is right! If only it were perennial in zone 7!

    Here’s my foliage post:


  18. Wow, I’m interested now to learn more about the tapioca. I loved my persicaria but either drought, freeze or both felled them. But I’ll try again! Great foliage follow-up!

  19. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I also have the perscaria in my garden but It must be a different variety because it grows about 3’tall. I love it though because it is so drought tolerant. It grows under a tree that gobbles up most of the moisture in the area. Those little white flowers do well in flower arrangements. You can strip off the leaves and they look a lot like baby’s breath. Beautiful foliage here. I love the first picture combo.

  20. Caroline says:

    Lovely, lovely! I’m a fan of that Persicaria (and your ability to capture its tiny white flowers without blowing them out). I’m sorry to report that the mangave pup you passed along to me did not survive, sob. Here’s my report on the foliage I’ve managed to keep alive: http://shovelreadygarden.blogspot.com/2010/10/foliage-follow-up-october-2010.html

  21. Loree says:

    Love that Manihot Pam!

  22. Dear Pam, I was directed to your site by Corner Garden Sue. How lovely that you hosted a foliage day. I missed GBBD as I was out of the country, but glad to say I have a foliage post. Love your pics. I will visit again. Pam