It has been mentioned previously that the Fairegarden suffers from Little Leaf Syndrome, LLS. Too many blades and finely cut small foliage plants prefer the sunny, well drained situation here. Large leaf plants yearn for shade and moisture, things in short supply on this well lit slope. If only plants like the coleus above, two specimens growing in a wire trough, could be counted upon to provide year around foliage interest. Alas, they are annuals and will be turned to black mush by the first downward dip of temperatures in October, even though the weather will still be warm and nice for a couple more months afterwards. In the spring, they cannot withstand the roller coaster ride of ups and downs that occur until the weather decides to ride on the solid warm level of summer. We love the coleus for containers, but for in the ground more is required.
Being a little slow on the uptake, it was finally realized recently that there was a gigantic leaf already growing well here, Hosta ‘Sum And Substance’. There were a few divisions of this plant that were brought in the move from Texas to Tennessee in 2000 that had been stuck here and there, totally wasted and hidden by larger shrubs. They have been moved to prominent positions on the daylily hill and just below the boxwood hedge of the knot garden. These large golden leaf hostas, that can withstand sun well, made an immediate impact in a positive way. Little Leaf Syndrome, begone! (The photo was shot on the color accent mode of the Canon SX1.)
Northern Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum pedatum, confusing since this area is considered part of the southeastern US, is anything but boring in the hypertufa trough. The leaf interest on this plant is exceptional. Pieces have been added to the long wall behind the main house, but the lack of rain this year has been devastating to them. Only a couple are alive out of many attempts, although the mix of this leaf with the red blood grass and New England Asters would be yummy. We will keep trying to get this fern going there. (The camera fun continues in this image. We promise, it’s the last one. For now.)
A post was written about the success of Verbascum chaixii ‘Album’ in the Gravel Garden. It was so happy there that four more plants were ordered and added. To read that post click here-What Looks Good Now-September 2010. The new arrivals are not making much of an impact just yet, but we have high hopes. High hopes as well for seeding about to make more of a mass planting.
An early post, Lambs Ear Love is our all time most visited blog post, (soon to be overtaken by the hypertufa ball post however) to view it click here-Lambs Ear Love. We love this plant. The fuzzy ever-silver leaves, the ease of cultivation, and the newer large leaf variety that was a passalong from dear friend Laurie promises to add to the large leaves of the Gravel Garden.
Similarly fuzzy, not quite as silvery but with the bonus of blue flowers is Salvia transylvanica, grown from seed in the greenhouse. Several of these were planted outside, but not all together. We need a shock collar to remind us to plant things of the same sort in a group, close by each other for best impact. Buzzzzz. Maybe some will be moved over to the gravel later on.
If it can be watered enough to thrive, Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’ promises to offer interesting star shaped big leaves and pink plumes of flowers. We have been collecting the condensation dripping from the air conditioning unit over the garage in a large bucket to remind us to empty it into the reservoir built around the base of this plant. It has worked so far, for there is life! It has been planted amongst the Karl Foerster grass at the back of the gravel garden, but hasn’t gotten the gravel mulch treatment yet. After the grass is cut in late winter the rest of this bed will be neatened up with pea gravel. Winters are wet here, so the empty bucket, no AC during winter, will not be needed as a watering reminder over the cold months. It is hoped.
Five plants grown from seed in the greenhouse, now in their second year in ground, of Inula magnifica should dramatically add large leaves to the area just behind the Gravel Garden. We have struggled to keep the seedlings alive after planting out, always the weak link in my seed growing endeavors. It has been discovered that my local nursery, Mouse Creek carries these plants. So far the temptation for instant gratification from plopping pots of mature plants inground has been resisted. But they had better bloom next year, or else it will happen. Or if they are so wonderful that more are needed, it could happen then as well. Looks like we will be adding more either way.
Planted at the base of the old rusted clothesline pole to replace Rosa ‘Moonlight’ that was afflicted with Rose Rosette disease, is the gigantic Rudbeckia maxima. New fresh cabbage-y looking foliage has emerged, showing that survival chances are good. Extra water was given to this late summer newcomer as well. New leaves are always a good sign of settling in. There are also seedheads that will be saved as insurance, and for fun.
To end with a flourish, the Swiss Chard has a large leaf that has everything going for it, edible, easy, beautiful and photogenic. These seed grown plants, I thought they were supposed to be Oriole Orange but they look more like Bright Yellow, will last well into winter here, if not the whole cold season. The protection offered by the wooden slats of the raised box planter might help them stay prim and pretty until spring, when new plants should be available at Mouse Creek. No more seed starting chard, buying plants lets you know what color you are getting.
Finding plants that will grow here in the Fairegarden that sport large leaves has been fun and rewarding. Are there any suggestions out there in the blogdom for more? Our criteria are: Zone 7a winter hardiness, dry hot summers, wet and cold winters, excellent drainage, no wet spots to speak of, clay based acid soil, mostly sunny. All reasonable ideas will be entertained. I will make a list of plants mentioned in comments here so that you will know what has already been suggested. Many thanks in advance for your participation, dear readers.
1. Variegated Comfrey
2. Silphium perfoliatum , cup plant
3. Verbascums, other species
4. Angelica gigas (biennial)
5. Nicotiana (annual)
6. NO Catalpa!
8. More Hostas