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Posts Tagged ‘Foliage plants’

Each spring, I look forward to the first flowers, and my winter aconites have come into bloom right on schedule. I won’t be surprised if there are insects visiting the blossoms next week during the warm days the weather forecasters are promising us. Warm weather also provides a great opportunity for pruning, so I am working on plans as I type this post.

Winter aconites (Ernthis hyemalis).

Flowers are not the only way to brighten up the landscape this time of year, though. As I turned back into the driveway at the end of a walk with my dogs today, my eye went right to the clumps of variegated yuccas along the driveway. They not only add splashes of bold yellow to the otherwise dreary winter landscape, they also produce spikes of white flowers in summer. Couple that with the fact that they are incredibly low maintenance plants–all they ask is full sun and average to dry, well-drained soil–and I can’t fathom why they aren’t more popular. (I know that all-green and blue-green types are pretty common!)

So, I am posting pictures of two of my clumps in the hopes that a few Eastern Shore Gardeners will add a plant or two to their own landscapes. Just be advised that you do have to be a bit patient: It takes a couple of years for pot-grown plants to really get established and produce a good-size clump.

Variegated yucca (Yucca flaccida ‘Variegata’

Variegated yucca (Yucca ‘Color Guard’)

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I have a small collection of sansevierias, also known as mother-in-law, good-luck plant, bowstring hemp, and Devil’s tongue. Year in and year out I enjoy them for their handsome foliage, but I am writing about them today because one of my more unusual plants is in bloom, Sansevieria cylindrica. Elephant’s toothpick and spear sansevieria are two of the common names I found for this plant.

Sansaveria edited

The flowers are creamy white, lightly fragrant, and open as the central stalk of the inflorescence lengthens. (Descriptions of this plant I found in reference books and on-line say the flowers are pinkish, but I don’t see that in my plant.) In my experience, sansevierias bloom on their own schedule, so I have learned to appreciate the flowers whenever they appear.

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I am always on the lookout for perennials that are able to withstand summertime heat and humidity and still look great as the growing season wanes. This year one of the late-season standouts is hosta ‘Dick Ward’. Despite the drought this summer, coupled with neglectful watering, it remains attractive well into October.

Hosta-Dick-Ward

Above. Hosta ‘Dick Ward’ in the third week of October. The clump is about 19 inches tall and 25 inches wide.

While the foliage color is certainly fading, and there are a couple of browned-out leaf edges, all-in-all ‘Dick Ward’ remains quite attractive. Earlier in the season, the leaves were bright green with darker green margins.

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Rain and wind have driven the last of the leaves from the deciduous trees in my garden, and a hard frost finally blackened my coleus a couple nights ago. There’s no denying the end of the growing season has finally arrived. Fortunately, a few shrubs still bring colorful foliage to the garden even at this late date.

Foliage-front-yard

 ABOVE: Shrubs with colorful fall foliage combined with evergreen lavenders, thymes and other plants fill the late fall garden.

 

Year round, one of my favorite shrubs is oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). This dependable native brings glorious fall foliage to the garden every year, and also produces luscious white flowers in summertime. I have to say in Ohio, where I was raised, the flower buds often didn’t survive the winter, so the plants didn’t bloom. We grew it anyway just for for the deep greens of summer and the glorious fall foliage.

 

Foliage-H-quercifolia

ABOVE: Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

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