Each month Christina at Creating my own Garden of the Hesperides asks us to focus on the foliage backdrop which fills any garden display. Christina has a subtle blend of foliage form and foliage color in her (usually) warm, sunny, and windswept Italian paradise. My garden is not so subtle, and the (usually) reliable rains and humidity give me a completely different plant palette to work with. With frost only a few days away (anytime from early to mid October) I wanted to take a last look at the gaudy tropicals and annuals before they become a soggy frozen mess…. and then in with the new season!
Coleus ‘Limon Blush’ with a few late season delphiniums and cane begonia.
This might be the first year I didn’t buy any new coleus. I wonder if I’m moving out of that phase….
An unidentified yellow “sun” coleus. In full sun it bleaches to a pale yellow, in shade it will stay a chartreuse color.
It wasn’t too long ago that I filled the late winter windowsills with pots of rooted coleus cuttings. From October to March the snow refuges would sit in a glass of water, but in early March I’d pot them up and start the production line of clipping off even the smallest shoot for rooting. By May and June I’d have dozens of plants for the garden.
Rooted coleus cuttings in June
It’s easy enough, but there’s only so much room for them to grow on and if my interests take me elsewhere….
Coleus ‘Alabama sunset’ and a dark leaved (something with Lava in the name) coleus which have been with me since the old house (8 years ago?)
I’m sure I’ll save plenty again, they’re no fuss, tolerate drying out and add such bright color….. it just depresses me a little thinking about taking cuttings and ending the season. But for a few more weeks the foliage will continue to do a good job of creating patches of brightness in the borders.
Without the aging sunflower stalks, the front foundation planting looks much neater. Coleus “Redhead” fits nicely into a color scheme which I’ll pretend was planted intentionally here, and mums and sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ echo the coleus and compliment the blue fescue.
I don’t know how this will go over, but I’m going to confess to being a coleus thief. To the embarrassment and disgust of my wife I’ve been known to nip a cutting here and there when I linger too close to particularly nice municipal plantings. I try to rationalize my way out of the theft by looking at the damage done by unwatched children and careless pedestrians, but I guess it’s theft nonetheless even if park employees have laughed at me for asking permission or have pulled off way more than I even wanted when aiding and abetting. Just for the record I would never do this in a nursery!
I like to call this yellow cutleaf coleus “Entrance to Epcot”
There seems to be a heavy criminal theme to my posts lately. I suppose that’s what happens when your workplace is closed for nearly a week as authorities mount a massive manhunt in the surrounding woods and residential areas.
This coleus likes a little more shade than the others, although it can handle full sun too. I call it “Hershey Park”.
The subject of ownership of living things is a lot more than I want to get into in a foliage post, but I’ve seen plenty of tempers flare over the subject. I hope my rare coleus clipping has never caused anything worse than additional branching of the plant, but I know the argument well which starts with “what if everyone did it…” and I know there are cases where nicked cuttings do cause damage. I envy the people who live in such a simple black and white world. I wonder if they return the piles of autumn leaves which blow into their yards each fall, or bring back the dead limbs which happen to fall over the fence.
The Virginia creeper and wild asters were ‘gifts’ from next door. I don’t think I’ll return them, they look nice here with the ‘tiger eyes’ sumac.
Next month will have a show of autumn colors and the coleus will be gone. I’ll miss them but would never give up the changes in seasons. Fortunately there will be plenty of perennials and shrubs to pick up the foliage-slack.
The Virginia creeper was just starting to color on Saturday and this morning I see the color’s spread across the wall.
Some perennials which I’m looking forward to seeing change are my new-this-year heucheras. The cooler nights are already bringing out new patterns on the leaves.
We will see who does the best in this mixed heuchera planting. The gaps are already widening as other plants (mainly primulas) die back or die out….
To round out the post, here’s the weedy iris bed which was the recipient of all that thick and rich (and smelly) lawn clipping mulch last week. I’m going to try my best to plant nothing here until the weeds are under control…. except for a few daffodils and transplanted iris 🙂
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ might be too tall a grass for here, but at 8 feet tall and several feet wide I’m not too keen on moving it. (plus I do like my tall plants!) -and notice the shop-vac. The gnats drive me nuts this time of year, and I get remarkable pleasure in sucking them out of the air with the vacuum!
Ok, moving along. Here are the last bits of foliage which will be gone from the garden in another couple weeks.
Alocasia “calidora”… just when I was getting tired of lugging it in and out each spring it explodes into leafy greatness. This year I’ll just wheel it into the garage, stop watering, and clip off the dead leaves as they yellow.
…and another pot for the garage. After suffering all winter and spring in their cramped clearance sale pots, this purple dracaena and fuzzy leaved succulent have finally found a home. Hopefully they can handle each other’s watering requirements.
I think the relief of actually being in a real pot has made this succulent happy enough to throw off a few blooms. I have the name somewhere, but love the foliage mix and bright flowers just as much without a name!
So that rounds out the end of summer foliage news. Much is set to expire, but the colder weather should bring a whole new set of players. If you can, take the time to visit Christina’s blog and check out what other bloggers around the world are finding in their own gardens. Enjoy your Garden Blogger’s Foliage Day and have a great week!