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.

triple play: ffu, gbfd and garden favorite

foggy foliage

Our days have been starting out cloaked in fog. Looking out from the front deck, the scene is framed by gnarly cherry tree branches on the right and red branches of Stachyrus praecox on the left, giving perspective to the cedar trees disappearing gradually into the fog.


The view out back has deciduous trees forming the scrim in front of the ghostly forms of conifers farther down the trail into the woods.


There was moss left over after using some at the base of our “Christmas Tree”. It was left in a wire basket on the outdoor table and up popped these cute little fungi for a natural fairy garden look.

Mahonia 'Arthur Menzes'

Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’ finally came across with some flowers this year, but it is here as a foliage plant. It’s stiff, holly-like leaves are evergreen and textural for year-round interest.

Cryptomeria japonica spiralis 'Grannies Ringlets'

And to complete the triple play of the title, here’s my favorite plant of the week: Cryptomeria japonica spiralis ‘Granny’s Ringlets’. That Arcostaphylos in the background currently obscures it from the entry drive, but from the back side of the bed its curlique habit stands out from its more serious neighbors. It will eventually gain enough height to make its presence known from any angle. Loree of Danger Garden fame hosts the favorite plant meme and will have a roundup on the last Friday of the month. I have long participated in Pam’s Foliage Follow-Up meme at Digging. Recently I discovered a similar meme, Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides, hosted by Christina. I may be cheating a bit by hitting all three with one post, but you know how it is when the weather turns nice enough to get out there to start weeding and pruning, so I trust you will forgive me.

A comment from Anna brought to my attention that I did not include any info about Granny. You can find it HERE.

foliage follow-up for the holidays

Deodore cedar

Conifers shout “Holidays” to me. Here’s the bargain NOID deodore cedar with one of the towering native cedars as a backdrop.


Despite its humble beginnings, its performance has been stellar.


It has an almost frosted look, so I’m looking forward to the day when I can steal a few branches to bring indoors.


In the meantime, the wind storms were only too happy to oblige by littering the ground with evergreen branches.


A swag for the door gave me an excuse to feature this goofy little folk art angel that usually watches over my work station. I made a loop in a length of rope, then wired bundles of branches onto the ends with the unused wire fasteners from our trash bag liners. A purple satin ribbon matches the angel’s robe.


Our fireplace is free-standing, so no mantle. A pony wall around the stairs serves the same purpose. We had to leave a stretch in the middle for Sami to use as a perch.


It’s such fun to have an abundance of material to tuck in here and there inside and out.


I won’t bore you with every nook and cranny, but instead will suggest that you visit Pam to see what she and others are celebrating in the way of foliage.

ffu: time for evergreens

Cotoneaster horizontalis variegata

I’m wishing I had planted more Cotoneaster horizontals variegata, as it is turning into a nice spreading ground cover.


The two-tone leaves give it a silvery look, and you can even spot the occasional red berry in there.


Ozthamnus 'Sussex Silver'

Ozthamnus ‘Sussex Silver’ adds another shimmery element. It presents a pruning challenge, getting scruffy after blooming. So far, I’m finding it worth the trouble and R enjoys wielding his loppers in its direction.

deodora cedar

One of several successful bargains from Means, this Deodora cedar (sorry, that’s all I know) brings a golden glow to Delusional Drive.

Gaultheria procumbens

Wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, is filling in nicely for another ground cover. The red berries are tasty, too.

Viburnum ?

Only a few leaves remain on the mislabeled Viburnum, but they glow to make up for it.

Hydrangea quercifolia

Ditto for Hydrangea quercifolia.

Pam over at Digging has more foliar fun in store, as she does every month for Foliage Follow Up.

Fall is for Foliage


I always have to have at least one pot of coleus to brighten the porch area. A couple of 4″ pots from the super market soon fill a good sized pot with color to rival any blossom.

coleus Aurora Black Cherry

Each year there’s a new batch of varieties from which to choose. The name of the big, dramatic one in back escapes me, but the one in front is ‘Aurora Black Cherry’, with a pot of basil in the foreground.

Cornus kousa

Out in the garden proper, leaves are turning and the dogwoods are producing their charming fruits.

Callicarpa 'Profusion'

Beauty berries are plumping up and taking on that metallic sheen.

Paeonia 'Gold Sovereign'

Some of the best leaf color comes from the tree peonies and will only get better until the end.

Lecesteria formosa

Where once were pretty little white flowers, now dangle plump, shiny purple fruits on the Lecesteria formosa.
Hypericum inodorum 'Asbury Purple'

Here’s Hypericum inodorum  ‘Asbury Purple’, sporting shiny black berries to top off the foliage that gives it its name. Other foliage fanatics will join Pam for Foliage Follow-Up just as we do every month the day after Bloom Day. Don’t be left out.

And now there is another foliage meme here, by Christina, on the habit-forming blog, Creating my own garden of the Hesperides. Check it out and expand your horizons with even more fabulous foliage.

Flinging Foliage


Lots of brilliant foliage combinations popped up on the bloggers’ Fling, so I thought I’d share some of them with you for Foliage Follow Up this time. The first one was spotted at Chickadee Gardens.


The Danger Garden was in full spiky form.


Foliar peek-a-boo in the Ernst Garden.


Next door, at the Fuller Garden, fine foliage underfoot.


You can point your camera anywhere in the Old Germantown Gardens and come away with a winner. This happened to be in the greenhouse.


Those rose hips were enormous, in the demonstration gardens of Joy Creek Nursery.

Pam is the mastermind behind Foliage Follow Up and I can now vouch for the fact that she is every bit as charming in real life as she is online (it’s a Fling thing…you get to hang out with your gardening heroes).

even in May, foliage triumphs

Rogersia ‘Bronze Peacock’

The beautiful bronze foliage is all I ask of Rogersia ‘Bronze Peacock’. It produced a single pink flower last year and I left it in anticipation of the promised seed head. It underwhelmed, so this year it will be “off with their heads”.

Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula Purpurea’

The weeping birch, Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula Purpurea’ will turn a deeper shade of purple as time goes by.


The emerging leaves are more coppery and dangle in a zigzag path.

Berberis replicata

After the petals fall, these reddish drupes remain on the Berberis replicata.

Delusional Drive

Here’s a shot from the back side of Delusional Drive. It depends almost exclusively on foliage.


Most of the conifers are frosted with light green growing tips.

Hacanachloa macra

Japanese forest grass spills over the rock border edging.

Euphorbia ‘Excaliber’

Euphorbia ‘Excaliber’ is at its very best right now, so you will possibly forgive me for always including it in May’s Foliage Follow Up, hosted, as always, by fellow foliage worshiper Pam. Later in the month, Foliage Follow Up goes by another name, and can be found here, where Christina’s blog, ‘Creating my own Garden of the Hesperides’ has been influencing many of my plant choices lately.

Foliage Follow Up: new leaves springing up

Berberis thunbergii purpurea

My focus on foliage this month is all about newly emerging leaves. The branches of the Berberis thunbergii purpurea have acquired a hoary coating of lichen. I’m not sure how healthy it is for the plant, but I do like the way it sets off the tiny, colorful leaves.

magnolia leaf bud

I spent many years mistaking these small buds on the magnolia for flower buds (false hope springs eternal). Now that it has finally graced us with blooms the past two years, I can recognize them for what they are. The flower buds have a fuzzy surface, while these are smooth.

tree peony

Peony foliage is super satisfying from beginning to end. Here a tree peony, ‘Chinese Dragon’, begins to unfurl.

Alchemilla mollis and herbaceous peony

Herbaceous peonies come up from the ground bright red, there on the right, while Alchemilla mollis captures water droplets in its pleated leaves on the left.

Oxalis ‘Klamath Ruby’

The new leaves of Oxalis ‘Klamath Ruby’ are folded up, showing the purple that will be harder to see once they open fully.

Hydrangea ‘Wave Hill’

Tender little poufs of leaves decorate the tips of Hydrangeas’ otherwise bare branches. This variegated lacecap is ‘Wave Hill’.

noid Hydrangea

Another Hydrangea, this time noid mophead that blooms in a heavenly shade of blue.


You can see why these are called trout lilies when you look at the markings on the leaves. I have several Erythroniums but this is the best of the lot. When it blooms, the pagoda blossom will be creamy ivory in color. I wish I knew its full name so that I could order more.

variegated sedum

Sedums are some of the first things to poke their little noses above ground.

Euphorbia ‘Excaliber’

Euphorbia ‘Excaliber’ pleases me most right now, when it looks almost like a ground cover with beautifully patterned leaves.

Acanthus spinosa

Hard to believe that Acanthus spinosa will soon dominate this berm. I have to dig up several of the outliers each spring just to keep it from swallowing everything else. Plenty to share, and it is one of my favorite plants in the garden. Now I’ll send you to Digging, where Pam can connect you with other foliage fans, as she does each month on the 16th (I’m obviously late, but Pam is forgiving (she is a gardener after all).

foliage follow-up, January edition

textural composition

I’m liking the textural effect of this composition. The planting along Delusional Drive is coming along. Some editing will soon be in order due to my impatient nature. I think Grace referred to it as “cramscaping”.


The heathers almost look like they are in bloom, but it’s just because I didn’t do any cutting back. What I really like about it is the coloring of the new growth.

Juniperus procumbens ‘Green Mound’

This is a very common Juniper, Juniperus procumbens ‘Green Mound’, but I love the way it mounds and creeps (8″ tall by 6′ wide, so look out, neigboring plants!). There I go again.

noid yucca

I love the way this noid yucca catches the light. I think I need a couple more of these in this border so that it doesn’t look like an afterthought.

Cryptomeria japonica spiralis ‘Granny’s Ringlets’

Cryptomeria japonica spiralis ‘Granny’s Ringlets’ is slow growing so far, but will eventually reach ten plus feet…oh dear.

Delusional Drive 2012

The drive winds from the road to our house, so it is impossible to get a wide shot of the whole thing. This is what one section looked like in 2014.

Delusional Drive 2014

Here it is, taken from the same spot, today. Softened by fog, but not much I can do about that.

looking back

Looking back from the other direction.

further back

And stepping back further you can see the extension that is sparser. I add some each year, to eventually line the entire drive with a border that is almost exclusively evergreen and foliage dependent. A few of the shrubs, most noticeably Ceanothus and Arcostaphylos, do flower, but that is almost incidental to my intent. That is why I decided to focus on Delusional Drive for this winter installment of Pam’s Foliage Follow Up.