Sunday, February 27, 2011

Shady Happenings: Late February

I have been slowly removing and trimming back remnants of this winter's damage.   Cast Iron Plants (Aspidistra elatior) are tough, but there is always some damage even during milder winters.  But our unusually extreme cold snap seems to have hit the Milky Way Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra lurida 'Milky Way') even harder.  I had to trim away almost all its leaves, though it should grow back just fine.

One of the aspects that I enjoy about the Red Dragon Knotweed (Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon') is the coloration of its new growth when it emerges in spring.  The two-toned deep burgundy color is very attractive.

I overwintered two Gold Dust Plants (Aucuba japonica 'Variegata') in nursery pots as I have not yet determined exactly where I want them in the garden.  Both ended up doing something I had never seen before: they're blooming!  They have clusters of tiny green and reddish-brown flowers.

Another plant that I rarely see bloom, but is currently doing so, is the Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina).  Kept in the pop-up greenhouse over the winter, its little lavender flowers make its relationship to the yard's  spiderworts quite obvious.

Have also been doing some planting of recent purchases.  Though likely it will want more sunshine than I can provide, I couldn't pass up the amazing foliage of the 'Mrs. Pollock' Geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum 'Mrs. Pollock').  Even if the plant, due to insufficient light, never produces any blooms, I'll be pleased if it just produces leaves!

Another new plant added to the garden is Red Billbergia (Billbergia sp. 'Red').  In the past, I have enjoyed my Friendship Plants (Billbergia nutans) though this past hard winter certainly caused them some serious damage.  But if this Billbergia, with its attractive reddish foliage, can do as well - then I'll be quite happy.

Planted in the Ground
  • Rosemary 'Lockwood de Forest' (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Lockwood de Forest'): Planted in the utility side of the garden where a fallen tree opened the canopy; though wasn't enough sunshine for a Rose to make it there.  Here's hoping a Rosemary can.
  • Seeds of Dill, Parsley & Thyme


  1. Hello from Spring, TX, RBell.
    This is my first visit here and I came across the link to your site through Tropical Texana's link list.
    I just love the pictures on your blog. You got some plants in your garden I haven't seen before and I'm not sure if the would make it here in the Houston area.
    Reading your post it sounds like you are having the same problem having the right amount of light for some plants like I am having here in my backyard. Either it is too shady/dark or too much sun. I even have to move some of my planters around as the year goes on, depending on the sun light. for right now everything is fine since we are not in our big heat yet but in a couple months it will be a different subject again.
    Happy Gardening and Best Regards
    Paula Jo

  2. We seem to have some plants in common, even though I garden in Portland OR. I love the blossom of the wandering Jew against the colorful foliage.

  3. A lot going on in your garden. Aucuba comes in male and female like hollies. If you have both, they can produce gorgeous large red berries. Unfortunately nurseries don't usually specify. I hope you have one of each.

  4. PJ: Glad you could stop by. By the time fall arrives, I often decide to move a plant cuz its struggling (or to give it away as a pass-along to someone with more sunshine!). Shade and heat does seem to make for an interesting challenge.

    Ricki: I too liked the colors of that flower and foliage. And it always surprises me that Oregon and central Texas are in the same zone.

    Carolyn: Good to know re: Aucuba. Perhaps the two new ones are female (since they have flowers) and my established ones are male (since I ain't never seen flowers on 'em)- cuz red berries would be awesome!

  5. RBell:
    Thank you so much for your response on my comment.
    You are so right, shade and heat does make it a challenge. But you know, it means for me to move planters and pots around since the shady and sunny spots change during the seasons. Especially once the trees in my backyard will have all their leaves and cover in shade almost all of my backyard around the patio area. So this again means, it also changes the look of my backyard several times during the year. It just never gets boring. LOL
    Paula Jo

  6. Aucuba makes flowers? Guess mine are males - they've never such weirdly interesting flowers, RBell!
    Funny about the Milky Way aspidistra being so wimpy compared to the all green ones. The same thing happened here. But all I've done so far was look at the bleached leaves on my plants and wonder if they were still alive. Your post has encouraged me to cut them back.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  7. Yikes...I do hope your Aspidistra bounces 'Red Dragon', one of my faves and so very easy to grow!

  8. Annie: Interesting to discover that your Milky Ways had the same issue; guess they're just not quite as tough (though I still want more!).

    Scott: I'm assuming it'll come back from roots; other wise I'll be pretty disappointed. And ain't the Red Dragon fun?