Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fabulous Foliage

April's new growth on this pieris (Pieris japonica 'Mountain Fire') is a striking contrast to the mature leaves. Can you believe the red? The tips of all the branches look like this. As I'm looking at the foliage on screen, I wish I could blow that dusty layer of pollen off, but that's true to how everything looks outside right now.

I posted a fall photo of this spirea (Spirea x bumalda 'Goldflame') with the foliage at it's neon red stage. I started the shrub from a cutting and haven't seen it flower yet, but I wouldn't care if it never did. You can see that the new growth is just as pretty as the ready-to-fall foliage.

Lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis) is a plant I've loved since I first read about it in Emilie Tolley's book, Herbs, back in the 80s. The sprays of tiny chartreuse flowers, and pleated leaves that hold tiny dew drops along their toothed edges, completely stole my heart.

I looked for it for a year or two before I found it, and then I planted it every year for the next decade or so. It succumbed every time after a year or two of weak growth and a poor response to the high heat of summers in NC.

Last year I found a species which looks very similar but which seems to have much better heat tolerance. (Alchemilla sericata 'Goldstrike') I've been very happy so far. Will keep you posted on how it progresses during its second year.

I am really not sure what this sedum is but it's likely to be Sedum makinoi 'Ogon', or Japanese golden sedum. Mine started from a tiny pinch which rooted easily but never grew much last summer. Now that I've read a little about it, I think it might prefer a shadier locale. It's cute, isn't it?

There are a couple of basil seedlings beside the sedum from boxwood basils that I had last summer. I don't know if they will come true from seed, but I'll try to move them when they get a little larger just to see. Really, basils are all nice, so it won't matter too much. Did you know that even the seed leaves you see here already have a strong basil scent?

Look how cool hostas are as they are just leafing out! I love to watch the whole process, from pointed little horns pushing up through the soil to fully unfolded leaves, some as large as a foot across or more.

I'm growing all my hostas in pots now, after trying for years to get them to grow in the ground. Deer just devastate them and the dry soil doesn't help, either. But they seem to love pots—all of them are getting more and more lush each year. Hostas are a little easier to see and appreciate raised off the ground in pots, too.



  1. All very lovely ! Deer sound much more exotic as destroyers of Hostas than my boring old slugs and snails !

    1. We have slugs and snails, too, Jane, but deer make much quicker work of hosta decimation. I've had them eat every bit of a plant except for a couple of inches of petiole. Go to bed, wake up—missing plants!