Follow Up With Foliage in February 2012

As February flutters along on winds as strong and unrelenting as in tales of old, the colors other than grey and brown outside the windows give comfort to a bundled up gardener. Above: Swiss chard shining brightly.

Be they rouge or biscuit, golden or rainbow tinted, living leaves decorate the landscape with a flourish. Above: Carex testacea and Heuchera ‘Brownie’ basking in backlighting.

Greens are more welcome than ever now. There is no grousing about the garden being a sea of green with no brilliant blooms as might be the case during the transition periods between spring bulbs and summer daylilies, or that sallow spot before the mums and asters of fall break out into lively song. Above: Mosses amid Ajuga reptans and volunteer forget me nots on the concrete step risers.

Beginning gardeners often make the mistake of thinking in terms of flowering plants only when designing, that term being used rather loosely as most of us start out plopping plants wherever there is an empty spot rather than having a grand plan sketched out on paper: Daffodil and grape hyacinth foliage along the wall with Moss Rocks playing happily on the blocks.

With experience comes wisdom, thank goodness, and the need for evergreen structure and background becomes apparent. Especially in winter that need rings out loud, if one lives in a place where dormancy during the dreary days can bring on despondency and soul sapping sameness. Above: Euphobia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and E. ‘Blackbird’.

When the sun shines brightly to chase away those clouds of gloomy spirits to replace that mood with aspirations of spring, we don the parka and sheepskin trapper hat to hike about the hills and investigate the eruptions coming from under the mulch and gravel. Above: Red mustard and Libertia ixioides ‘Taupo Blaze’.

The play of shadow and light on shiny and matte surfaces of varying shape and hue offers intrinsic interest if we change the focus of our mind’s eye. Above: Mahonia media and Viburnum rhytidophylloides ‘Alleghany’.

It is the Tao of the times as the angle of the orb that floats in the sky above is slowly reaching higher to illuminate what was previously in darkness. Above: Crocus tommasinianus ‘Roseus’, lambs ear and purple sage.

So fear not, intrepid gardeners, spring is coming. There is no stopping it. The signs surround us, if we but inspect more closely. Above: Tulip tips and lily bulblets.

Our unfailing gratitude goes to Pam of Digging for providing inspiration in so many things, including the idea of featuring foliage following the monthly melody of Bloom Day.


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15 Responses to Follow Up With Foliage in February 2012

  1. Sue says:

    So very very good to see some colors!! My world is gray and gloomy…….

    Thanks Sue. It does us good to see color, too, whether flower or leaf. Thank goodness for the sunshine, too. It seems to rain almost every other day here this winter. I am not complaining, but my soul need to see the sun every now and then, and feel its warmth on my face.

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I have always admired the mahonia. I wish I could grow one here. I have tried in a protected spot but it was not happy with the winters here. Happy FF. Have a Great Weekend.

    Thanks Lisa. The Mahonia is a nearly thug here, like Nandina, it pops up in every uncultivated space. I like it, but have to watch out for it. After the flowers, the large sky blue berries are marvelous. I guess the birds must like them too, hence the seedlings in every part of the yard. Happy FF to you and that fabulous weekend!

  3. The foliage with the sun shining through reminds me of early spring…nice moss. I couldn’t bear to show off my brown and dried foliage…

    Thanks Donna. What, no evergreens in your garden? The large fir and spruces grow up in your area so much better than they do in the heat and humidity of our summers. I am always envious when we travel up that way.

  4. Layanee says:

    You are indeed lucky to find those patches of color during the dark months. The sun is climbing but the world here is still quite bleak. A few green shoots are starting to lead the way though. You are right, the march is on.

    Thanks Layanee. I am lucky with the weather this year, but I planted those plants for foliage color. Like the early blooming flowers, it has taken years of study, experiementing and many dead plants to get these few reliables. The march is on to March, HA. I like that!

  5. michaele says:

    The moss rocks are adorable….they look like furry backed turtles. Followed the link and just might find myself succumbing to a purchase. Or scrounging around my basement closets to look for unused colorful items that could serve as a charming home for a clump of moss.
    The backlit Swiss chard is stunning…so luminescent.

    Thanks Michaele. The Moss Rocks are so cute, and those special containers, designed especially to hold the moss make them, in my opinion. I will add that mine were not happy indoors in the greenhouse, but love it outside, even in snow and well below freezing temps. Fine by me, I like low maintenance! I do love that swiss chard. Sometimes we even eat some.

  6. The colors are great, you have so much going on. We are warming up this week so I should take a stroll around the garden to see what’s going on.


    Thanks Eileen. There is always way more foliage than flowers here. That swiss chard is a standout in winter, and the Euphorbia clan really gives four season interest. I hope you see some beauties out in your garden!

  7. I love the foliage of Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’, especially as it’s a taller plant. The contrast is lovely. Spring is coming here too, albeit a little slower than last year, as we’re a bit behind on rain this season, but I’m sure my daffodils will open soon *taps foot impatiently*.

    Hi CV, hooray for your spring! Blackbird and Ascot Rainbow are the same size and form and look smashing together. I am on the hunt for similar Euphorbias, they seem to like our weird conditions.

  8. It is great when colour starts to appear in the garden, and mixed with it promises of more to come in March.

    Hi Green Bench, thanks for visiting. Our true spring arrive in mid-March with everything beginning to leaf out. I can’t wait!

  9. commonweeder says:

    It took me many years to begin to appreciate foliage. Your photographs will save others from having to wait so long.. I love those moss rocks.

    It was the same with me, Pat, about understanding that it is foliage that makes a garden. Flowers are fleeting. Thanks for those kind words. The Moss Rocks rock!

  10. Frances, you led with your yummiest photos — I love that colorful Swiss chard, right at turtle level! And your Moss Rocks are adorable too. Much going on as usual in the Faire Garden!

    Thanks Pam. The swiss chard is just incredible, the colors are vivid and it seems to make it through the winter with only slight damage. It will send up a tall flowering shoot and then die, but young plants are easily accessible to replace the old ones. I love the foliage meme.

  11. sandy lawrence says:

    Re the moss rocks, I too followed the link. Love yours. The size is just right and in 3, of course. Which size did you order? Always a pleasure to tour your garden! Thank you.

    Hi Sandy, thanks. I got the smallest size, pebble? I bought nine of them, actually, to give as Christmas presents for my family. It seems that I still have them! Maybe Easter? Mine had to be moved outdoors, they were not that happy inside, even in the greenhouse. I believe the larger sizes are easier to keep happy. Good luck!

  12. Isn’t the light wonderful this time of year? Love this swiss chard! Nothing doing here, except the tps of iris and tiger lily foliage coming up, which is early.

    Hi Monica, thanks. Not only the light, but there is warmth in the shining sun that has the feel of spring. Things are happening here, early but unmistakable. Fingers crossed for no late blast of winter at the end of March if everything is already leafed out. Oh well, nothing I can do about that!

  13. Gill says:

    I am very envious as we can’t see our garden for snow, so seeing things growing in your garden is such a treat.

    Gill in Canada

    Thanks Gill. We are reaping the benefits of where we live, in the nice sultry warmth of Zone 7a. Things are moving forward, but it is still winter here, with many bare braches. We don’t have that protective snow cover, our plants have to be brave and durable. Your time will come!

  14. I enjoyed your lovely words as well as the foliage. Yes, spring is beginning to wake up!

    Thanks Sue. Spring can bring out the poet in us, can’t it? Such a wonderful time of year, almost here!

  15. Love the moss rocks! And your other combinations of foliage are amazing! Swiss Chard sure is a beautiful vegetable, isn’t it?!

    Thanks Plant Postings. Colorful foliage is better than flowers in the overall appearance of a garden. I am not very good at the combinations, but sometimes they make a nice vignette. The chard is outstanding, I wouldn’t be without it.

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