Tag Archives: Melianthus

September Survey of Foliage

September is when I begin to think about the waning flowers and seasonal summer foliage and how I will feel when there is no luscious coleus about to accent and highlight seasonal summer foliage on shrubs, perennials and other annuals.

Coleus and MelianthusThe coleus is hanging in there for a while, but the nurseries however are clearing quickly, the sales abound, so NOW is the time to take stock and survey what you have vs. what you want for next year. The sooner you get those pieces that I call “furniture” in the garden for the cold season interest, the better off they will be come spring.

Coleus and Hypericum 'Ignite Scarlet'

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Coleus and Euphorbia 'Silver Swan'

"Under the Sea" Coleus, Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie', 'Blue Star' Juniper

"Under the Sea" Coleus, Heuchera 'Lime Rickey'
So, I plot and plan my next steps. Envisioning my nose stuck against the glass in the colder months with a hot cup of coffee in hand, I think about how I will enjoy the finer details of the late season fall and winter foliage that remains while plotting and planning at that time what I will do in spring.

Coleus and Euphorbia 'Silver Swan' What’s going to hold up in the cold and look interesting mixed with my spring and summer favorites AND have some showy FOLIAGE? Luckily, here in our mild, “Plant Mecca” climate, I have many choices. The front yard has the deer and bunnies, but the back is fully fenced and I can get more “experimental” there without losing my wallet in the process.

We won’t have the louder, showy options we have in spring and summer of course, because the cold time of the year is about more of the quiet details, more subdued colors and textural details that we admire from a closer view.

Blueberry 'Sunshine Blue' and Abelia 'Kaleidascope'
That’s not to say that we can’t have HUGE amounts of personality this time of the year! I LOVE the Blueberry foliage with Abelia ‘Kaleidascope’. With a late season grass like Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ or Pennisetum a. ‘Burgundy Bunny’ this combo could be outstanding!

Variegated Boxwood with unknown ChamaecyperisHave a yen for light and airy? The light of this variegated boxwood and chamaecyperis (unknown) together are a fine winter pairing. What would YOU add as another accent here? Possibly another dramatic grass? How about Japanese Blood grass for a shock of red for autumn?

Variegated PierisSpeaking of light and airy- how about one of my go-to must have favorites to design with plants? The Variegated Pieris is elegant, showy and the epitome of seasonal. I also have a passion for it’s cousins ‘Flaming Silver’ and ‘Little Heath’. EPIC plants for designing a garden that needs to drop a few visual pounds and lighten up.

'Little Rascal' Holly, Eupatorium 'Chocolate', Carex tesacea and Melianthus
This rich and subtle combination of ‘Little Rascal’ Holly, Orange Sedge, ‘Chocolate’ Eupatorium and Melianthus are a textural dream for the late season. That carex will get more orange, and the holly will get a bit more black just in time for Halloween! 😉

Ilex c. 'Drops of Gold', 'Redbor' Kale, Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie' I know some designers consider it rather “pedestrian”, but I adore the tall purple ‘Redbor’ Kale for it’s fall and winter richness. And when it is paired with the berry-liscious Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’ and Ilex c. ‘Drops of Gold’- stand back!

Osmanthus 'Goshiki' and Miscanthus s. 'Morning Light'
Osmanthus 'Goshiki' Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ is also a favorite for it’s hardiness, slow growth, foliage color and personality. I frequently get clients and customers who wince at the thought of a plant like this and say “Oh no, no prickly plants in my garden!” Then I stick two hands in it and show them it doesn’t bite! Then I say, “Well, if you’re huggin it, you’re doing it wrong.” This plant is SO worth it for the seasonality!

Silver Hellebore and Spruce
Speaking of prickly but worth it! This silver Hellebore is simply striking against the backdrop of this old spruce in the background. Both with a lovely blue-green coloration they each have equally distinct and separate charisma. These two happen to be front and center on a patio, smashing in winter!

Bergenia, Molinia and HelleboreThis Bergenia is nothing fancy in the way of a cutting edge plant, BUT when paired with this Molinia and bed of Hellebore in the background, it is a fall and winter masterpiece of design! So simple, yet effective.

Miscanthus and red Japanese Maple
The subtle coloration of this Miscanthus blooms may have been lost if it were not for the backdrop of the red Japanese Maple in the background.

Euphorbia 'Silver Swan', Hebe 'Quicksilver', 'Tri-Color' Sage, Heuchera 'Green Spice'
I am forever attracted to monochromatic color schemes. I’m not quite sure why the sophistication of it appeals to me SO much! I think the interplay of layering one tone can have so many distinct identities within a small display and depending on the plant combinations, can be changed up to be more powerful or more indirect. For fall and winter though, I think that the cold brings out the drama in these kind of displays.

So, what am I wistful for in next years garden? I “think” I may take out a Ninebark to make way for one of these: Cotinus 'Young Lady' This Smokebush or Cotinus ‘Young Lady’ has captured my heart. Though I think I may hold out for one called ‘Grace’ for her utterly stunning fall foliage in a bright, rich, coral and tealy, blue-green leaves in summer.

How about you? Are you planning your next foliage focus for fall and winter yet?

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Summer Chocolate, Cherry and Wine

From the sweet to the sublime, I can’t think of more luscious foliage in the summer than those with hints of chocolate, cherry, wine, cinnamon, caramel, raspberry and other flavor inspired colors.

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Heuchera ‘Velvet Night’

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Astilbe and Succulents

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Purple Fountain Grass and Euphorbia ‘Excalibur’

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Red Banana and Coleus from the “Under the Sea’ Series

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Eucomis or Pineapple Lilly and Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow, Hebe ‘Champion’ with Hens and Chicks.

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‘Berry Smoothie’ Heuchera, Hebe and unknown Aloe.

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Unknown conifer at the Berkeley Botanical Garden

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Saxifrage

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Smoky Heuchera ‘Stormy Seas’ ? and Smoky succulent.

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Cordyline and Agave

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Aeonium and Barberry

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Begonia, Bromeliad and Succulents

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Coleus, Heucherella, Hebe, Coprosma and Phormium.

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Cissus discolor and a combo pot with Heuchera, Melianthus and Ninebark.

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Peanut Butter, Glass and WOW!

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Antonow’s Blue Honey Bush

Melianthus major ‘Antonow’s Blue’

Once you have inadvertently backed into or brushed up against the Honey Bush, you never forget that Peanut Buttery goodness of fragrance. It’s so intense! Plus, that powdery blue, ultra textured foliage is so tropical and lush in the garden, it can be compared to none other.
Later, if we have some great spring warmth, this plant blooms with burgundy, nectar abundant flowers that the birds adore.
I’m so excited about this particular plant because its a brand new Dan Hinkley introduction by Monrovia and it should be a hardier plant than previous ones that I’ve bought as “annuals” here in my zone 7 climate. Typically, I would have to overwinter them in the garage, so this will be a fun experiment. Monrovia advises that this plant best for zones 7-11.

Monrovia also recommends planting this one a bit deeper for better hardiness, so that should help too. With great drainage and partial to full sun, this plant will get the oomph it needs to build a strong base before winter. In warmer climates, they are saying this new one will be evergreen, whoo-hoo!! Dan Hinkley is THE MAN!

This one can get as tall as 8 feet. In the container that I will use it in this season, it will likely get about half that high, but that is just dandy with me. This Honey Bush is going into a teal pot that stands out over these lovely glass rocks of similar tones. I can’t wait to see it get fat and full!

Now THAT is some “Fine Foliage” all right. 🙂

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