bonfire of the vain leaves

Crape Myrtle and Viburnum 'Blue Muffin'

Crape Myrtle and Viburnum ‘Blue Muffin’

A few show-offy plants take center stage this time of year. My Crape Myrtle from the Arbor Society never blooms but its incandescent burst of color more than makes up for that. Like a shadow behind it is ‘Blue Muffin’.


A closer look reveals the subtle range of colors that cause it to seem to shimmer, even on an overcast day.

Oxydendrum arboreum

Oxydendrum arboreum

The sourwood tree began a subtle shift in early September.


The beginning of a crescendo that led to this: Nothing subtle about it now.


In the green world of Delusional Drive, this little Viburnum (can’t tell you which one, since it was obviously mislabeled when I bought it) draws attention.



Soon the stormy weather will douse the flames and turn these Coleus to mush but what a glorious sendoff. Pam at Digging invites us to celebrate foliage on the 16th of every month. Click through to join the foliage fest.

vignette & more foliage


While out shooting foliage, this photo rose to the top to be featured as this week’s Wednesday Vignette, hosted by Anna (Flutter and Hum).


For this month’s Foliage Follow-up, hosted by Pam (Digging), I was attracted to newly emerging leaves and needles. Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’, or Bird’s Nest Spruce, is a uniformly colored background plant most of the year, but in early spring the new growth is a fresh spring green that raises its value considerably.


This little procumbent deodor cedar is interesting by virtue of its form, but even more so right now, with the new needles coming in.


Right after Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ finishes blooming (with flowers that look to me like dirty handkerchieves) the real show begins, earning it its name.


Here we have the Cotinus blushing bright red before putting on its ‘Purple Robe’ and cozying up to ‘Thunderhead’ pine sporting the “candles” that will become new foliage (at least the ones that escape being snapped off to control the growth pattern).


Ending, where we began, with Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula Purpurea’. It’s at its very best when the leaves are brand new and coppery and pleated like this.

begorra…it’s foliage follow-up


So of course I have to lead with shamrocks.


But let’s not stop there. I loved the way the raindrops sparkled on this unknown Verbascum.


And the play of textures that happen stepping back a ways.

Do visit Pam (Digging) to see her focus on foliage. I’ll be back with more on the 22nd, when Christina steps up with her foliage from another continent.

focus on foliage, both sides of the pond


My focus on foliage along one side of Delusional Drive is really beginning to pay off. Taking a cue from Christina (Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides), who hosts Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day on the 22nd of each month, I have been adding a few flowering plants to spice up the mix. These days, though, the mix of many shades and textures of green holds its own.


Here it is looking the other way.This is before I have even begun the yearly weeding and cutting back chores.


Thuja occidentalis ‘Yellow Ribbons’ introduces a nice bright note, backed by the dark form of Ceanothus impressus ‘Victoria’, which will be covered in blue blossoms later on. Another Ceanothus, ‘Blue Jeans’ blooms earlier at the other end of the border. A few tufts of Carex buchanii do bronze duty.


Arcostaphylos densiflora ‘Harmony’ is pruned to show off her shapely ankles, with Yucca filamentosa nearby for textural contrast.


The queen of the border right now, to my eyes, is this deodora cedar.


I’m fond of Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ when it is clothed in variegated pink, white and spring green leaves, but right now it’s showing off coral bark as new buds catch the light. The founder of the original Foliage Fan Club, Pam (Digging) invites us to strut our leafy wonders as a follow up to Bloom Day. She’s forgiving about when that happens (target day, 16th of any month). I’m so tardy this month that I couldn’t find a way to send you straight to her February post, but don’t let that stop you. Any visit to Pam’s blog is worth your while.

foliage follow-up

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I stayed indoors for my foliage shots this time, wimp that I am. The wonderful marbled leaves on red stems with red veining on the undersides came from Evan at the last plant swap. Maybe he can enlighten us as to its name.

Kalanchloe orgyalis

Kalanchloe orgyalis

Kalanchloe orgyalis is also known as copper spoons. It would take on a more coppery tone if it were to get direct sunlight.

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Shoddy record keeping strikes agin. I do love this little guy, whatever his name.

Sedum morganianum

Sedum morganianum

It has taken years for this lovely lady to grow her trailing locks of Burro’s Tail Sedum. Be sure to visit Pam (Digging) to see what foliage fanciers have in store for this month’s Foliage Follow-Up.

gbbd & ffu in a vase

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This dark and gloomy day made photographing this week’s vase challenging. Oh, well…must soldier on. Gathering tax records led to a swamping out of areas where all sorts of things had been gathering dust. Hence the tall vase, which I had completely forgotten about.

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The bright red leaves are from the sourwood tree, or Oxydendrum arboretum. Dark leaves come from Weigelia ‘Wine and Roses’. The dark red snapdragons are the last flowers to keep going strong and have earned a repeat and increased numbers for next year (I hardly expected such productivity from a humble six-pack). The last hot pink Zinnia is hiding in there somewhere too.


One branch of Cornus kousa ‘China Girl’ completes the picture.


That girl from China has been putting on a show, what with one thing after another, since early spring. She deserves a rest after this last glorious aria. This 3-in-one post links to (May Dreams Gardens) for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, (Rambling in the Garden) for In a Vase on Monday, and (Digging) for Foliage Follow Up.

foliage follow-up…all new

Schefflera delavyi

Schefflera delavyi

Finally, at the HPSO Plant Fest, I found a small Schefflera delavayi within my price range. Cistus was the vendor and here’s what the plant tag has to say about it: “In our never ending search for garden hardy evergreen Schefflera relatives, here’s one that’s actually a Schefflera. This Himalayan species grows eventually to 6 or 8 ft and can have leaves in excess of 2 ft with an exquisite tawny indumentum. So far has proven hardier that even Fatsia to a low USDA zone 7!!” Can you tell I’m just a little bit excited?

Brunnera 'Alexander's Great'

Brunnera ‘Alexander’s Great’

More Plant Fest finds: that’s Brunnera ‘Alexander’s Great’ in the background, even bigger and bolder than its predecessors. It and the Kniphofia ‘Orange Vanilla Popsicle’ in front of it came from the Jockey Hill stand.



This wonderful Fatshedra came from Alison at our Bloggers’ Bazaar. The variegation reminds me of Fatsia ‘Camouflage’, another wish list plant. That does it, since I decided to focus on new foliage plants for this installment of Pam’s (Digging) monthly festival of foliage.

flowers & foliage get equal billing

Thalictrum roehebrunianum

I’ve always loved the foliage of Thalictrum but wasn’t crazy about the fluffy flowers. Along came T. roehebrunianum with these dainty little flowers and resistance was futile.

Hydrangea quercifolia

Flowers are almost an afterthought on Hydrangea quercifolia as it mixes it up with Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’. In Autumn, its leaves turn shades of rust and flame.

Hydrangea 'Preziosa'Speaking of Hydrangeas, they are mostly background plants around here. ‘Preziosa’ has interesting black stems and pale flowers that show subtle coloration from rose through blue, all on the same bush.

Hydrangea 'Limelight'

‘Limelight’ has cone shaped flower heads that start out green and go through the slow transition through white to a rosy blush at the end of life.

Campsis 'Madame Galen'

I planted Campsis x tagliabuena ‘Madame Galen’ in front of five fence posts, with the idea that they would reach out to each other. The two that receive the most sun are adhering to the plan while the others languish in part¬†shade.


The flowers, when they come, do Madame proud.


No one that I know buys Sempervivums for the flowers, but aren’t they interesting? They grow on ungainly stalks and signal the death of the plant, but the flowers themselves are rather pretty.

Coleus & Abutilon

If there was any doubt that foliage can rival any flower, Coleus would send it packing. Here’s a deep russet one shading to orange. In front of it is an Abutilon with buds that match the Coleus foliage so completely that they disappear. Down in the left corner is another Coleus with chartreuse leaves splotched with maroon.


Crocosmias have a way of turning up unexpectedly. This one chose a woodland setting, where it adds a touch of color to a tapestry of greens. I like it best in this early, budding stage.

Leycesteria formosa

I think I take this same picture every year, when the Leycesteria formosa decks herself out in dangling earrings like this.

Anthirrum & Lavender

I planted a few things just to cut for bouquets, like this deep red snapdragon amid the lavender.


Tithonia for the butterflies. They seem to be appreciative.


Sami wonders where her plants are. I neglected to plant any catnip this year but she quickly lost interest (unlike the strays). She’s not as mean as she looks, she just doesn’t like to have her picture taken.


There must be Nasturtiums every year. This is a new to me strain with the variegated leaves. There are some orange sherbet colored blossoms hiding in there somewhere.

Argentina anserina

A couple of purely foliage plants are living in pots until friendlier planting weather. First up: Argentina anserina, whose shimmering silveriness I failed to capture. Just imagine those deeply pleated, serrated leaves fashioned from tin and you get the idea.

Viburnum rhy. 'Allegheny'

More heavily textured leaves on Viburnum rhy. ‘Allegheny’. The leafy love in this post is dedicated to Pam (Digging), who invites us to strut our foliar stuff for Foliage Follow Up on the 16th of each month. Credit goes to Carol (May Dreams Gardens) for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th.


I’ll say bye for now, with one backward glance at Platycodon, otherwise know as balloon flower (see how the buds blow up like their namesakes before opening?)

oh, the foliage!


Hey, there might be something to all this talk about the morning light. I caught it just right the other day as I was going out to pick up the paper. The sword-like foliage in back is Sisyrinchium striatum, surrounded by heathers. A hinoki cypress is the dark shape in the middle (it actually is frosted with golden edges when not in shadow). In the foreground is an unnamed grass from a neighbor, with a bit of Stachys ‘Helen Von Stein’ peeking into the left corner.


The same cast of characters backing up a native Madrone.

Carex buchanii

Carex buchanii adds color between Birds’ Nest Spruce and Iris foliage.


Stepping back, the spruce is crowding into a mislabeled Viburnum, but they do look pretty together.


The bright new growth on the weeping Norway spruce is always dramatic, but even more so catching the light like this.

Artemisia 'Valerie Finnnis'

All of the above photos were taken from the back side of Delusional Drive to take advantage of the light. Moving around to the front, Artemisia ‘Valerie Finnis’ is backed up by Sedum ‘Cape Blanco’. Valerie came from Linda (Whatsitgarden) in all its silvery goodness. Let’s hear it for Pam (Digging) for dreaming up Foliage Follow-Up and hosting it every month.

favorite: ‘Thunderhead’ pine and more for FFU & GBFD

So many memes, so little time…so, once again , I’m putting three related themes into one post. I’ll give you the links at the end.

'Thunderhead' pine

Starting with my favorite plant in the garden right now, Pinus thunbergiana ‘Thunderhead’. Close up in spring, it’s the “candles” that arrest the eye. Pinching them back results in a lower growing tree.


But I love the candles, and it isn’t strictly necessary to choose between sprawling and upright. The tall part has been let go, while the shorter part has been “candled”. I think it results in an even closer resemblance to the cumulus clouds for which it was named.


Houz did a nice write-up about this favorite. You can find it HERE.


It took me a while to warm to the idea of introducing Yuccas into Delusional Drive. Now I couldn’t be without the textural contribution of their strong, sword-shaped leaves. This one came from Means, so I don’t have a full ID. Just Spanish Dagger and variegated.

Yucca recurvifolia

My first Yucca came from Ryan at our first bloggers’ swap:¬†Y. recurvifolia.

Senecio greyi

This could easily occupy my “favorite” slot. It was labeled Senecio greyi, but I think Loree calls it Brachyglotis greyi. Whatever. Those silvery edges make it a winner as far as I’m concerned.

Mugho pine

R is the opposite of a plant snob. He cares not if a plant is common as dirt, so he’s always slipping in things like this Mugho pine. I must admit to loving it.

Euonymous 'Emerald N Gold'

Most of the year the variegation on Euonymous ‘Emeral ‘N’ Gold’ is yellow and green, but it blushes prettily in the cold months.

Dracunculus vulgaris

Dramatic from beginning to end, Dracunculus vulgaris is pushing up through the woodland duff, already showing the distinctive patterning of its future stems.

The Favorite Plant in the Garden meme is the brainchild of Danger Garden, where Loree will host a roundup of faves you have featured through the month on the last Friday. Pam, of Digging hosts Foliage Follow Up. It is targeted for the day after Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, but as you can tell by my late entry, the rules are loose. You are welcome to join in when you can. A similar meme from across the pond is hosted by Christina. It falls on the 22nd of each month, so why not note that on your calendar and give it a try.