Friday, April 16, 2010

Foliage Follow-Up: April 2010

Now that we've celebrated my shady blossoms, its time to turn our attention to the foliage.

I have slowly learned that a shady garden is really a leafy garden.  I often give in to blossom envy; purchasing plants that, fresh from the nursery, bloom that first year, but only feebly thereafter.  Thus my garden has shown me that I'd better pay attention to plants that are grown predominately for their foliage.

Here are a few that were selected with that specifically in mind:

Red Dragon Knotweed
Frozen to the ground this past winter, it is coming back strong.  Initial growth from the ground was burgundy, but with warmer temperatures it has developed into its typical red/green pattern.  Forms a mound about 3 foot tall & wide.  Late in the season last year, it even produced scattered clusters of tiny white blossoms.  It seems pretty easy to grow from cuttings.

Variegated Shell Ginger
Originally planted in the ground, the winter freezes kept seriously setting the plant back.  So I eventually moved it into a pot so that I could protect it from the low temperatures.  I've heard that it can bloom, but mine never has.

Gold Dust Plant
This evergreen shrub has a very nice impact in the shade garden.  Seems to like filtered light, but will even grow in those shadier portions of the yard.  Can be grown from cuttings, but grows so slowly I'm not sure if it is worth it.

This plant was my very first Hosta, and I've never been disappointed in it.  Though it has never bloomed for me, each year it has come back thicker and larger.  I enjoy the ribbed leaves with their darker green edges.  It tends to lift the leaves up high which reduces slug & pillbug damage.

Purple Shamrock
Always nice to introduce leaves to the shade garden that break through the green barrier.  Though dark leaves tend to disappear into the shade, these tend to look nice when planted near light green vegetation.  And it's pale pink blossoms show up well against the purple.

Recommended for shade by a guest on Central Texas Gardener, my single plant has produced pups that have led to my now having four good sized Manfredas.  They are also rumored to do well in the sun (though I have no personal experience with that!).  Unprotected, it shrugged off this winter's 18 degree lows with no damage at all.  Early in the spring, as the sunshine reaches it through the barren red oaks, it's leaves get dark freckles that merge to form darker patches.  As the oak leaves return and shade becomes more of the norm, the leaves lose their freckles and turn light green.

Though some of these plants produce blooms, it is their vegetation that steals the shady show.


  1. You have some lovely foliage plants ... I articularly like the variegated shell ginger and the purple oxalis. I also have a couple of shady garden areas and I have come to appreciate the variations on green, just like you. Although, like you, I occasionally still give in to 'blossom envy' as you put it!

  2. I love those 'Macho Mocha' mangaves and their burgundy-green freckled leaves. My biggest one bloomed last year and never looked as good afterward, but it was easy to replace it with a pup. Great plant! I'm also intrigued by your Red Dragon Knotweed.

  3. I have variegated ginger too, and mine hasn't ever blomed either. It dies back to the ground each winter, but so do the other gingers. It seems like most gingers take longer to come back in the spring than other plants.