Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – June – Blast Furnace Days

I was away from the garden for a long weekend in Prague, visiting friends who were teaching there for a month; a great city for a break with masses to see especially if you like Art Nuevo and music – ah the music!

But I digress.  Before I went away we had more than a week of strong winds with temperatures about average or a little below the norm for this time of year.  On the day we left the direction of the wind must have changed bringing scorching temperatures of up 38 or 39° C, with wind as well on the first day.  So in four days the garden looks totally different.  Actually it looks as if someone went crazy it with a blow torch!

I hadn’t begun the automatic irrigation because every morning there had been evidence of quite heavy dew, so I felt the plants should cope.  I should have realised that the wind was already drying them out and that they needed a little help.  The automatic irrigation is now on; I’ll post about the different types of irrigation tubes I use and what I think are the pros and cons of each kind soon.

We are now entering the period when there are less blooms, only the toughest of plants flower when its this hot.  So I am now relying on foliage and form to give life to the garden.  Shiny, glinting silvers sparkle in the shimmering heat.  Even very tough, drought tolerant plants like Cistus don’t look their best; their leaves shrivel a little to help prevent water loss.  The garden has lost that feeling of lush plenty and is looking parched and lean.  Not my favourite time.

View of the Large Island with mounds of various silver-leaved plants

You can see in the above that my Cordyline is not happy, it really doesn’t like the heat; its days are numbered.

I showed this plant in spring, when it was wet so you could see how felt-like hairs on the leaf surface protect it from the strong rays of the sun.

Artimesia ponticum

Without these silver-leaved plants the garden would be very sad in summer.

Looking almost blue in the shade earlier this morning

Even the plant’s flower stems and flowers are covered in in tiny hairs for protection

Festuca glauca sparkles in the heat

These leaves look like machine embroidery lace

Euphorbia rigida

Euphorbia rigida’s new foliage is lifting itself clear of its spent flowering stems.  The seed pods were popping for weeks, I expect to find many new seedlings in autumn, time now to clear away the debris.

Euphorbia myrsinites is doing the same, its seedlings are already emerging in the gravel paths

More work to be done, did I really say in an earlier post that there wasn’t much to do in June and July in the garden?

Metallic leaves of Convolvulus cneorum have tough leaves for their protection

The loveliest thing happening in the garden is all the bees and butterflies that fill the space with fluttering wings and various levels or buzzing.  But even here there are things to shock.  Looking at the lavender hedge of the formal beds and taking as many photos as I could I saw this, at first I could quite believe what I was seeing.

Was the bee really being attacked?

I really think it has trapped the bee and is eating it! What could it be?

I checked in my ‘Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’ book and found that it is an Assassin Bug, Rhinocoris iracundus.

I hope you will join in GBFD and tell us what foliage is looking great in your garden at the moment.  To link in just leave a comment with a link to your post; I look forward to reading them.  I’ll read and comment on all GBFD posts, thank you for joining in.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – April 2012 New Beginnings

Almost everything is now dressed in its new fresh foliage for spring.  Even evergreens like Box are covered with bright green leaves, a reminder to me that they should ideally be pruned into shape now so that they still have some time, before the really hot weather and their summer dormancy, to grow.  This is the first time they have put on so much new growth; a good friend has a theory that the sharp cold weather we had in February has shocked some shrubs into producing for new foliage and more flowers this year.

April is the month when the most change happens most quickly in the garden.  Despite there being a large number of flowers now it is still the foliage that does the biggest job in making the garden look full and lush.

Looking between the circular rose bed and small island to the formal beds and to the right the back boundary border.

I think of spring as being green, but many plants produce bronze or other coloured leaves before they turn green.  This, as in autumn, is a defensive mechanism to protect the tender new leaves from the strong sun and maybe also the startling changes in temperature that often occur in spring.

I love the delicate colour of the walnut tree leaves, it is probably its most attractive just as its leaves unfurl.

When we moved here a good percentage of the boundary hedge was composed of Photinia, it is a shrub that I used to dismiss as being rather boring.  It is widely used here, as once established it is very tolerant of summer drought.  It also doesn’t mind the strong winds, either cold winter Tramontana or hot summer from the not so distant sea.  The foliage in spring reflects the colour of my favourite tulips ‘Brown Sugar’ and the new foliage growth of Rosa Westerland.  It also gave a interesting contrast when there were a large number of white tulips in the formal beds.  When their flowers open they are an attraction to the bees who love the strange perfume (I’m not so sure I like it).

New growth of R. Westerland with Photinia in the background

I happened on a post the other day written by The sproutling writes all about how she loves roses for their foliage more than their flowers!

Hostas are spiralling out of the ground, their new leaves pushing through the soil where a few days before I had wondered if they had survived the winter as there was nothing at all to see.

Hostas are just amazing the way they push their leaves through the soil and then unfurl. There are more Hostas on the slide-show

The silver-leaved plants sparkle in the sun and they are creating some lovely combination with purple sedum, Rosa Rubrifolia and Cotinus.  Dark Heuchera contrasts with Festuca glauca.

Heuchera obsidion with Festuca glauca

Purple sedum with Artemisia pontica

Here are some images that illustrate what happens to when a silver-leaved plant gets wet.  The hairs on the leaves get wet and don’t reflect light in the same way; result the leaf appears green.

When dry they look like this - silvery

When wet, they appear green

With macro, you can see why.

Actually the leaves ARE green and appear silver because of the hairs not the other way around as I described above.

Please click on the image below of Rosa rubrifolia to see the rest of the foliage in My Hesperides Garden today.

Did you spot the wasp making its nest in the middle of the Lavender?

All are most welcome to join in GBFD, just leave a comment and a link to your post (or wordpress will do it for you).  Happy Gardening!

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day 22nd September

I wanted to begin this meme, which I do hope many of you will join because I think most of us underestimate the important role fulfilled by the form, texture and different colours of the foliage of the plants that fill our gardens.

When you consider it; what you actually see in the garden is probably 80% foliage and only 20% blooms.  I accept that what we see is the flowers but even then if the foliage around them is not pleasing then even the flowers won’t look their best.

I’d like to explain with images of my garden why I think we should take more time choosing plants not only on the basis of their flower colour, how long they flower for, and their perfume (hopefully); but the overall effect of the foliage: it’s texture; the detail for the leaves, and its colour.  Sometimes foliage colour can make or break a planting combination and if the foliage colour does harmonise or contrast with the flowers it can make the flowers themselves look muddy.

I’m going to begin with what is one of my favourite parts of my garden.  This is the Left Hand Border, the section nearest the house.  I think it looks good at almost all times of year.

If you look at the photo, you’ll see that actually probably more than 80% is green,  Yes there are some flowers – two kind of Sedum are flowering  now and the ever present Verbena (ground-cover) has has some blooms but for the rest it is the texture and colour of the foliage that make this an interesting angle of the garden.  Beginning on the LHS is a pomegranate, next to this in the back ground is a bay hedge (so always green and a sense form, a great background plant) in front of this is Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’, then Sedum Matrona, then Festuca glauca ( this is a signature plant in the garden, always planted in three’s I some them in every border), by the side of this in the foreground is the Verbena.  Then a tree which was in the garden when we purchased the property with next to it the broad leaves of a Canna, They are usually taller than this; to the front are the strappy leaves of Agapanthus still with their seed heads.  Next are a Choisya ternate and then a Melia with large palmate leaves.  Looking from a different angle the foliage is even more important to the composition.

No flowers here at all

Behind this, the linking plant being the Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ is a small area devoted to box balls, grasses and a Teucrium also shaped into a ball and some thyme that naturally form a globe .

The Verbena bonarienis is a self seed, I'll be removing this

At the end of the LHB is a large white Mulberry, it has grown a lot in the last 4 years and it now castes quite a lot of shade.  Here texture and form reign, although at this moment the Acanthus are at their worst.  The old foliage is yellow and crisp and the flower stem brittle, but I can see the new growth that will make this area green all winter.  Hostas thrive here; as long as they have shade they don’t mind if it is quite dry, there  are fewer slugs and snails if it is dry, of course.

Hosta add so much form and light with their variegated leaves

Hosta, Anemone 'Honerine Jubert', Solomon's Seal, with large Canna leaves and again the bay hedge

At last the anemones are beginning to grow, they have struggled in this position but now there is more shade they are managing to clump up and even flower, I love the leaves especially contrasting with the shiny Canna that I grow just for the foliage the flowers on this variety are pretty insignificant.

Messy, too many different plants with not enough difference between them.

Moving on to the back border, I’m struggling here to achieve the look I want.  Here there are too many different grasses mixed together badly.  If texture and form are the main features then I think there need to be big blocks of the same plant, this is true of all planting really but with flowers you can get away with some smaller points of interest.  I need to work on this border; I want it to be mainly grasses with just a few other plants to add variety with some solid form.  There are two walnut trees; I am aware that they interfere with the growth or other shrubs but seem not to impede the growth of grasses.

A little further along, past the fig tree I am very pleased with the planting I did this spring.  There are two varieties of Miscanthus; M. sin Gracillimus and M. sin Graziella.  In front of these are 5 Pennisetum ‘Little Bunny’.  This border is irrigated once a week and it is worth noting that these Little Bunnies are thriving whereas some others planted just across the path, but in a bed that isn’t irrigated are struggling.  I intend moving my unhappy Bunnies to where there is some irrigation and a little shade in the back border.

As most of the foliage will continue for long periods I’m not going to talk about all that’s giving me pleasure this month, if you’d like to see a few of the silver leaved plants that are still sparkling in the sunshine please click on the image below.

Large Island

Please leave a comment with a link to your post about foliage and thank you so much for joining in.

There is another post about foliage by Pam @ Digging the day after GBBD; I know that for many of us 2 posts in 2 days is hard so hopefully spacing it like this will work well.  If you linked to Pam’s digging I am happy that you link back to the same post but maybe you should say so that other visitors will know that they’ve read it before.