GBFD – January when foliage counts even more

Welcome to Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day (GBFD) when I ask you to consider the important role foliage has in all our gardens whether we put it first on the list when choosing new plants or whether it is incidental, the result of our choice of flowering plants.  I have reached a time in my gardening life when I admit that foliage is THE most important consideration when buying new plants, that and their suitability for my conditions and climate.

In November I introduced you to some of the evergreen trees and shrubs I’ve planted in the new beds, created when I removed the formal beds of Lavender, Perovskia and Box.  Today I’ll introduce you to two other trees/shrubs that have been planted in the back area of the garden; this was the Spring border or even more boringly named the back border – now renamed the woodland walk.

I want this area to provide good shade in summer when being out in the sun can be positively unpleasant for me and for many understory plants.  So here’s what is planted here:  More Arbutus, in the form of shrubs to trim and Pistacia lentiscus, these are typical Mediterranean plants that will not suffer during the long, hot, dry summers.  I have also included one Ceratonia siliqua  (Carob).

The image above courtesy of Wikipedia is a full grown example, mine will take a while to grow as large as this.

The Ceratonia silique tree grows up to 15 metres (49ft) tall. The crown is broad and semi-spherical, supported by a thick trunk with brown rough bark and sturdy branches. Leaves are 10 to 20 centimetres (3.9 to 7.9 in) long, alternate, pinnate, and may or may not have a terminal leaflet. It is frost-tolerant to roughly 20 degrees F.

Most carob trees are dioecious, some are hermaphrodite. The male trees don’t produce fruit.  The trees blossom in autumn. The flowers are small and numerous, spirally arranged along the inflorescence axis in catkin like racemes borne on spurs from old wood and even on the trunk, they are pollinated by both wind and insects.

Ceratonia siliqua (Carob) my tree today

Ceratonia siliqua (Carob) my tree today

Ceratonia siliqua (Carob), I failed to take and photographs of the flowers in autumn but here are the developing pods (hopefully)

Ceratonia siliqua (Carob), I failed to take and photographs of the flowers in autumn but here are the developing pods (hopefully)

The fruit is a legume (also known less accurately as a pod), that can be elongated, compressed, straight or curved, and thickened at the sutures. The pods take a full year to develop and ripen. The sweet ripe pods eventually fall to the ground and are eaten by various mammals, thereby dispersing the hard seed. The seeds contain leucodelphinidin, a colourless chemical compound.

The carob tree is native to the Mediterranean region.  The word ”carat”, a  unit of mass for gemstones and a unit of purity for gold alloys, was possibly derived from the Greek word kerátion literally meaning a small horn, and refers to the carob seed as a unit of weight.

The ripe, dried pod is often ground to carob powder, which is used to replace cocoa powder. Carob bars, an alternative to chocolate bars, are often available in health-food shops.

I have also included a couple of Quercus coccifera, these again will be maintained as large bushes.

Quercus coccifera, the kermes oak, is native to the Mediterranean region and Northern African Magreb.  The Kermes Oak was historically important as the food plant of the Kermes scale insect, from which a red dye called crimson was obtained.  The etymology of the specific name ‘coccifera’ is related to the production of red cochineal (crimson) dye and derived from Latin coccum which was from Greek κὀκκος, the kermes insect. The Latin-fera means ‘bearer’.

Quercus coccifera

Quercus coccifera

Quercus coccifera the leaves are similar to Quercus ilex

Quercus coccifera the leaves are similar to Quercus ilex

The new woodland walk looking east, the hose pipe is marking the proposed path

The new woodland walk looking east, the hose pipe is marking the proposed path

The new woodland walk looking west

The new woodland walk looking west

Elsewhere in the garden other foliage is doing its job of creating interest by its form, texture or change in colour.

Trachelospermum around the new secret garden has turned purple with the cold temperatures

Trachelospermum around the new secret garden has turned purple with the cold temperatures

The textures and form completely replace flower colour in my January garden

The textures and form completely replace flower colour in my January garden

Looking across from the top of the drive - I never tire of this view

Looking across from the top of the drive – I never tire of this view

If you would like to join GBFD this month just leave a link to and from this post, I look forward to seeing whatever you would like to share, just one beautiful leaf or a summary of all the foliage that is pleasing you in your garden. Christina

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61 thoughts on “GBFD – January when foliage counts even more

  1. Lovely selection of shrubs, trees and grasses, Christina. You have certainly encouraged me to consider the foliage in my garden as more than just a foil for the flowers. It becomes so important at this time of the year. Hosepipes are so useful, aren’t they? What material are you going to use for your path?

    • For me foliage is even more important in mid-summer when so many plants are summer dormant to avoid the drought conditions. I haven’t completely decided what to use for the path in the woodland, I’ve used gravel everywhere else but that doesn’t seem suitable for the woodland setting. I think probably I’ll use a permeable plastic membrane covered with chipped bark, it should help give the idea of a woodland path winding through the trees. I might even be more radical and move more of the existing plants from the back border to make the path curve more creating more mystery.

      • I have just used wood chippings to cover the border under our top garden mature deciduous trees and am about to put in in the stumpery under the copper beech. I am rather worried though about what will happen when it is Autumn and we have to get up the mountain of fallen leaves. I also think I need some sort of edge to keep the chips in place before the blackbirds, wind etc spread them all down the sloping front garden. I have used large stones round part of it so I might try to get some more and put is all along the top. Chipped bark would certainly look good in your woodland path – would you need an edge?

        • I’ve been thinking about edging; it’s difficult to know whether I want the path to look that defined or if it might look more natural if the path just fades into the borders. It is flat so the bark should mostly stay where its put.

  2. I seem to have a lot of evergreen ground cover useful for adding to small vases: arums, lamiums, Euphorbia robbiae these all provide interest most of the year. But not a lot other than Pittosporum tenuifolium for Winter. Sambucus racemosa is good from April till August and the wonderful Rosa glauca, with its plum-grey leaves, is great for summer foliage.

  3. Pingback: Don’t Walk On The Grass – rusty duck

    • Yes, I agree, sone of the best things about gardening is that things change, and you can always try new things to improve the garden. Thanks for joining in this month, I look forward to seeing your ‘white’.

  4. A wonderful collection of new foliage, most of which I had not heard of but might grown here. I love the woodland walk.

    • I’m sure I could introduce some new plants to you Lauren; I hope my ideas for the woodland walk will work out, it will need time to create the shade I’m eager for.

    • I so agree about simplifying and making the garden easier to manage and it really is an added bonus that it actually does look better. Thanks for joining this month John with a lovely glimpse of your garden with and without snow.

  5. You are so right about the importance of foliage, this time of the year really shows us how we need evergreen leaves . I am so interested in your choice of trees. The Carob sounds wonderful.
    I was going to join in with the meme today but it was too dismal to go outside.

  6. The new woodland walk looks just lovely, Christina. Well done – will look forward to seeing it develop. And I never tire of the view from the top of your drive either.

  7. The woodland garden is looking good–it’ll be wonderful in maturity. We can grow Trachelospermum here in Central Texas, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it as glorious burgundy as yours. It’s either green or toast.

  8. Pingback: garden bloggers’ foliage day | sprig to twig

  9. I enjoyed reading all the in-depth info about the Carob tree. It’s such fun to get in on all the early stages of your project, when anything is possible and multiple decisions must be made.

    • Writing this post has spurred me to finish the path and plant moving required in the ‘woodland walk’. It also poses the question of whether to continue the walk further round the boundary to include what was the small island that has now been amalgamated with the circular rose bed. Questions, questions, its what keeps this gardener on her toes!

    • As Quercus ilex grows well at least in the south of England I think the other oak species would also survive, I think the Carob might be just a bit tender though. Thanks for your contribution to GBFD this month.

  10. I’m looking forward to watching your trees grow from afar, Christina 🙂 The carob is fascinating and looks like a wonderful addition. I’m curious about Quercus coccifera; does it host cochineal bugs if simply planted in the garden?
    My own post is a surprise continuation from my tree following post earlier in the month – a bit of a closer look at foliage that closes at night: http://smallsunnygarden.blogspot.com/2016/01/garden-foliage-in-january.html

    • Hi Amy, so far I haven’t seen any cochineal beetles on my Quercus, I imagine they aren’t all that common now, but I don’t know; if I ever find any I’ll definitely show them to you. Thanks for joining GBFD this month, I’m interested about reading more about your tree.

  11. I would love to add more Arbetus to our garden but the only place would be at the bottom which is very dry in the summer. Do you think they would have a chance if I looked after them (i.e. watered them occasionally in the summer) for the first year? Amelia

  12. Pingback: GBFD: Shading | Rambling in the Garden

  13. Great additions, Christina! I wish I had room for something like the carob tree but then, even if I did, it would undoubtedly cause a ruckus with my neighbor up the street under the terms of our city’s “view conservation” ordinance.

  14. I forget what a different palette you work with in your garden. It’s so interesting to hear about what works and what works with it as you mix these new things with some of the same plants which thrive in my own garden.
    Great to see how the new areas are coming along. I would have never suspected this all just one year ago. Great job!
    I’m sorry to miss joining this month. I wasn’t quick enough to get outside before the snow fell, and to be honest it’s a brown tired world out there underneath the white.
    Have a great week!

    • I hope you have not been affected adversely by the heavy snow that I’ve been reading about; I saw an image that showed that you could see the snow from a satellite, I found that quite astonishing. To be honest I’m amazed by how I’ve changed the garden too, it does prove that positives can come out of very negative happenings. Keep warm and safe Frank.

  15. Interesting to read of your new plantings Christina, you always amaze me with your determination to create a beautiful garden in what must be quite tricky conditions. The Carob at first glance looks like a Eucalyptus and I was surprised by the Kermes oak leaves as they look really small and not a plant I am familiar with. I like to see the bare bones of gardens at this time of year without the distraction of flowers, it really does bring it home who important foliage is.

    • One of the adaptations for hot sunny climates is for the leaves to be smaller. The foliage of the Kermes oak are very similar to Quercus ilex (Holly Oak) but they are smaller.

  16. Hi Christina, your criteria for choosing plants is very much the same as mine. And I am so excited about your new garden areas, especially your woodland walk! I am truly looking forward to seeing its development. I love the selections you have chosen.The leaves of Quercus coccifera are marvelous! With all its various textures and forms, your garden will never be boring.

    • Your beautiful woodland was in no small way an inspiration for trying to create more shade in my own garden; it will, by necessity be very different from yours but I hope in its small way it will be as beautiful.

  17. Sorry to be so late, circumstances beyond our control! The garden is still too wet to walk on, so my foliage post is not the usual one that I do, hopefully it will be back to normal next month.
    Love your woodland walk and of course I’m wondering what you will be planting there, can’t wait to see the results!

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