GBFD – There may be masses of blooms but the Foliage is what holds it all together

The title of this month’s GBFD post says it all really.  When I went into the garden to photograph foliage this morning I thought it might be difficult this month to take images that didn’t feature flowers rather than foliage.  But then as I walked around I was reminded why I had wanted to start GBFD; Foliage is EVERYTHING in a garden.  In some seasons it might be all there is, but when it is spring and the garden shouts with colour and tells me it is truly spring it is the foliage that makes the blooms sing in a harmonious way.

The garden is full of colour, maybe more colour than at any other time of year; yet without the foliage the garden would be nothing!

The structure of the formal garden works all year.  Now supporting the white tulips in the front two beds

The structure of the formal garden works all year. Now supporting the white tulips in the front two beds

Structure, form and shades of green are enough to create a beautiful garden

Structure, form and shades of green are enough to create a beautiful garden

Box needing to be pruned give a slightly wild feel

Box needing to be pruned give a slightly wild feel; the pale green new foliage is too lovely for me to want to remove it

The slope is green in a different way; Stipa tenuissima waves in the wind

The slope is green in a different way; Stipa tenuissima waves in the wind

Silver foliage is a strong part of my Mediterranean garden, the bright spring light makes the silver leaves shimmer and also make a wonderful contrast to Tulip Negrita.

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Various Artemisia and other silver foliage plants

Various Artemisia and other silver foliage plants

Sedum Purple Emperor glows against a santolina

Sedum Purple Emperor glows against a santolina

The purple and almost jade foliage of the Sedum is stunning when it is new

The purple and almost jade foliage of the Sedum is stunning when it is new

Sedum Matrona has pink edges to its leaves which at present are an attraction to many snails

Sedum Matrona has pink edges to its leaves which at present are an attraction to many snails

Festuca glauca highlights the deep purple of Heuchera 'Obsidion'

Festuca glauca highlights the deep purple of Heuchera ‘Obsidion’

The bright spring light bleaches the true deep colour of the Heuchera

The bright spring light bleaches the true deep colour of the Heuchera

Heuchera 'Patty's Plum'

Heuchera ‘Patty’s Plum’

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Remember sometimes to turn your images into tones of grey to help you understand the forms and texture that your plants are creating.

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Some large round leaves would be a good addition here.

I think the form of the foliage here, works well with strappy Iris in the foreground, with Cotinus, santolina and Phlomis.

I think the form of the foliage here, works well with strappy Iris in the foreground, with Cotinus, santolina and Phlomis and a tall stand of Cerinthe in the background.

New foliage on a Mahonia

New foliage on a Mahonia

There is of course the pattern and colour you enjoy only when getting close.

A lot of new foliage is pink or red and not green

A lot of new foliage is pink or red and not green.  I think this is just amazing

and the foliage of wild lupin is a wonderful patter

and the foliage of wild lupin is a wonderful pattern

Nandina's new foliage is as colourful as any flower

Nandina domestica’s new foliage is as colourful as any flower

Hedges are very important for the form and texture they provide in the garden, the back of my garden Has Photinia, giving orangey-red new foliage which emphasises the colour of Tulips Brown Sugar and gives a good background to the rest of the garden always.

The large tree on the left is a White Mulberry

The large tree on the left is a White Mulberry

Please feel free to use GBFD in your own way; to maybe highlight one plant that is making an impact this month in your garden or to show the combinations that work for you.  Please post and add a link to your comment.  I really look forward to seeing what is happening in other gardens.  I hope you are enjoying spring as much as I am.

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GBFD – Greens not Reds, Yellows or Oranges

Although we have reached the third week in October there are very few true signs of autumn in the garden; in the countryside and along main roads Pyracantha berries blaze in red and yellow, the grapes have mostly been harvested and we are about ready to harvest our olives so I am aware that winter approaches.  But somehow most of the garden plants are determined to put on new foliage to replace that lost during the drought so for the most part when I look at the garden it fills me with hope rather as it does in spring.

The Mulberry still has all its leaves and hasn’t changed colour at all.

In the evening light, Nandino has hints of orange

By the gate, agave and euphorbia both look fresh and not tired as in summer

Artemisia has put on lots of new foliage

Seeds of Californian poppy and Verbascum are germinating everywhere, yes there are also a few weeds too!

But the birds know it is autumn and each evening there are more and more getting ready to leave.

If you would like to join in Garden Bloggers Foliage Day all you need to do is leave a comment with the link to your post.  I look forward to reading all of them and seeing what the foliage is doing in your spring garden if you’re in the southern hemisphere or what shades of autumn colour is filling your garden if you’re situated in the northern hemisphere.

I came accross this post the other day and think it fits the bill. click here to see some amazing autumn colour.

GBFD – Hotter Still!

This is my 200th post, I wish it were a more positive one – but it is giving you a true vision of how the heat is effecting My Hesperides Garden.

A week ago rain was forecast and I was just a little hopeful that the temperatures would begin to fall.  Mid-August is when often the weather breaks; but not this year!  This last week has been hotter than ever with news broadcasts recommending that the elderly stay indoors or visit air-conditioned shopping centres to keep cool!  More elderly people die in Italy during hot summers than in winter.  By eight in the morning it is almost too hot to stay in the garden and in the afternoon it is still really too hot to work even at six pm.  The plus side to this is obviously that we can have dinner outside and watching the sun going down and begin to breathe again.  This is an exceptionally hot year; records are being broken but I sincerely hope that the furnace that is August this year won’t be repeated for some years to come.

In the parts of the garden planted with drought tolerant plants I have been shocked to see plants suffering and possibly dying!  Just how many plants I’ll lose is difficult to tell just yet; maybe I won’t know until next spring the exact number of plants that have succumbed to the record temperatures and the lack of any real precipitation for many months.

I admit to being deceived earlier in the year April and May were not as hot as some other years although there was little rain.  I resolved not to begin irrigating until it was really necessary – MISTAKE!  Early June was also not excessively hot but the 15th June the temperatures suddenly rose and with the heat also came strong desiccating winds – worst scenario for a garden and worse still I was away in Prague that weekend.  When I returned and saw the garden on Tuesday morning I realised that the ground was already dried out and that many plants were struggling, the struggling has continued to now.

What plants have thrived in this heat and parched summer?  Not many have thrived!  Euphorbia myrsinites doesn’t mind how dry or hot it is, and most of my other Euphorbias are doing well too, especially E. rigida.

You can see how shrunken the foliage is on this Phomis fruticosa

I had imagined that all silver leaved plants would at least tolerate the heat but some look pretty sad.  Senecio maritima and S. cineraria aren’t dying but their foliage is curled to protect them even more from the sun’s rays, this is also true of Artemisia varieties.

Curled leaves even on a Senicio.

This usually beautiful spreading thyme seems to be 85% dead

Foliage of Solanum jasminoides also shows how leaves curl to protect itself from too much sun. It isn’t wasting energy by flowering either

Ceanothus repans certainly copes in these conditions and gives a lovely dark green mound at the corner of the drive.

Ceanothus repans looks good

Festuca glauca was another plant that I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about (it is a signature plant in my garden), but the larger plants are looking very untidy and with more dead thatch than I’ve ever seen in previous years.  I am hoping that if I lift and divide them the new plants will establish for next summer, I also have some small plants that were self-seedlings that can be planted as replacements for any that are truly dead.

Surprisingly Lonicera fragrantissima hasn’t lost any of its leaves, I have given it some water during the summer but only when a nearby crab apple is stressed and I water that.

Lonicera fragrantissima

Viburnum tinus is usually considered a tough plant for almost any conditions; it is the wind that has caused most damage to this shrub, the side that receives the afternoon wind from the west is completely scorched, and I doubt that the branches on this side will recover.

Viburnum tinus has been very damaged by the hot wind

Even the lavender hedge around the formal beds has patches that I’m hoping aren’t dead.  It has been pruned so that light and air can reach into the bushes; again this will be a wait and see scenario; it will be a huge problem if some plants have died completely leaving ugly gaps.

To finish a few other images (good and bad) of My Hesperides Garden today.

These box balls are likely to be my more expensive loss!

I love how prostrate rosemary clings to the wall. It thrives in the heat

I don’t think these Hemerocallis are dead but they are really suffering.

The large island is planted with drought tolerant plants but it doesn’t look great at the moment

Wisteria on the pillars is lush and full of flower, but it gets some irrigation as the roses planted close to them receive water, which even reaches the lavender hedge close to the terrace

All the images were taken at around 8.30 in the morning, you can see how strong the glare of the sun is, even at that time.

A Cotinus is happy, the purple leaved versions are less content

View accross the garden from the Large Island

I hope you will want to share some of your foliage on this Garden Bloggers Foliage day, just leave a comment with the link, thank you.  I’m looking forward to some lush foliage from the UK and spring offerings from the southern hemisphere.

Foliage and heat in the garden

I have decided to write on a regular basis about the foliage in the garden.  My intention is that I’ll write on the 22nd of the month.  I hope some of you might like to do the same thing so that we can compare as we do with GBBD.  As you will notice I am already late this month but hey this is the first one!  I also don’t know how to set up a “mister linky” but I’ll try to learn before next month!

Sedum and Artemisia ponticum

I think this image of a purple sedum and sage green Artemisia ponticum show very well how plants can work together; the solidity of the sedum versus the airiness of the Artemisia.  At the back of the garden I have a solid block of bay, it doesn’t line up with the central path at the moment but it will as I’ve planted some more and am trying to be patient while they grow to extend the block; planted in front are two Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ which move in the wind against the solid Bay.

This will be even more obvious when the Miscanthus flowers – though I really think of  grass flowers as foliage, but they add so much to the garden I feel it correct to count them twice!

Here’s the same colour combination as above using Albizia ‘Chocolate’ and another Artemisia.

When I first thought about this and walked out into the garden with the camera I wasn’t sure how much interesting foliage there would be; that was a strange thought really as I think I like my plantings more for the foliage than I do for the flowers though I do enjoy those very much too.  When I plan a border or area of the garden it is just as important to me that the plant has interesting textual foliage as that it has a beautiful, perfumed flower of the right colour.  I don’t think there is a plant that has flowers longer than it has foliage – I may be wrong but none come to mind as I write; accepting this, then, the contribution made by the texture, form and colour of the foliage is going to have more impact on the overall impact the garden has than perhaps anything else we plant.

The Large Island is predominately silver foliage because this bed is not irrigated

In my post for GBBD I mentioned that we’d had a coolish summer (for Italy) with unprecedented rain during July; the temperatures in the last week have made up for that with several days of 35-37° C with a strong wind from the west and night-time temperatures only dipping to 24°C.  To me it seems some plants have been lulled into a false sense of security and have not pushed their roots down further to reach the damp lower layers.  Several now look very stressed and I have had to give them some water or I fear they would die.  Interestingly the Italian way of saying a plant or tree has died is to say it is seccata (dried) as death through lack of water is the major cause of losing plants.

Even my fig tree is very stressed and is losing its leaves and dropping the ripe fruit; the walnut also has many leaves which frankly look scorched.

Scorched fig leaves

fallen fig leaves, I must give it some water

Worst is the Bergenia, I will have to move them either to a shady spot or remove them altogether as they suffer like this every year and don’t actually flower all that well either.

Poor Bergenia

On a happier note the silver foliage in the garden is positively sparkling and glinting in the sunshine.

The vegetable garden can also thrill when the sun back lights the gorgeous red stems and leaves of Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’.

Can you spot the Verbena bonariensis growing as a weed in the vegetable garden!

Click here to see the foliage in My Hesperides Garden today.

Here’s a link to Carolyns Shade garden who has posted about her textural contasiners. http://carolynsshadegardens.com/.