I seem to post a lot about blooms on this blog but I am also a fan of foliage so I thought I would join in with Six on Saturday to write about some of my current favourites.
I will start with Nandina domestica, known as ‘The Heavenly Bamboo’. It is not actually a bamboo at all and as to whether it is heavenly, a heathen like me is not in a position to say. The ordinary Nandina domestica is quite pretty but nothing remarkable.
I think purple- leaved Nandina domestica ‘Plum Passion’ is gorgeous.
My latest love is a new red- leaved one called ‘Blush Pink’. It is a sport of ‘Fire Power’. It starts out pink in spring and then instead of turning green it becomes redder as the season progresses. It is compact, so is handy in the garden or a pot.
I am a collector of old gardening books and one of my favourite sources for fascinating information about plants is the garden historian, Alice M. Coats (1905-1978) In her book, Garden Shrubs and Their Histories she tells how Nandina domestica comes from China and Japan. I loved the story of this shrub being planted outside the door of every house in Japan so that if anyone has a nightmare they could pop out and tell the plant so that no harm would come to them. Apparently in Japan it is also considered excellent for toothpicks, so a handy plant. Mine are rather a long way down the garden, so not ideally positioned for discussing my nightmares with them. Or for toothpicks.
Anyway, I digress and you might well think that I have used up three of my Six on Saturday and taken up too much of your time with stories about toothpicks, but with my usual sleight of hand I count these three as one: Nandina domestica.
My next plant is a weird perennial with lovely, fluffy foliage. I am probably pushing my luck showing this as quite a few of you were appalled by my weird green rose, Rosa viridiflora recently and this is another aberration. It is called Tagetes lemmonii ‘Martin’s Mutant’. It appeared as a mutant side shoot in California.
I love it with an airy Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ behind it.
I haven’t tried yet, but I think it would be great for flower arranging. It grows up to a metre in a long season and has the spicy Tagetes scent. I don’t know whether it ever blooms, mine hasn’t and if it did I would cut them off, I love it as a foliage plant. It is a tender perennial so I have taken cuttings.
I like plants with black foliage so I am a fan of the neat little Coprosma ‘Karo’s Red’. It is not actually red at all; the shiny, little leaves are green turning nearly black. Apparently Coprosma is related to the coffee plant. It comes from New Zealand and is not very hardy but I like to live dangerously. To be honest, I have already lost Coprosma ‘Tequila Sunrise’, but you know the old chestnut; don’t believe you can’t grow it until you have killed it three times.
My other black shrub has filigree jet black leaves and as you can see luscious berries. It is an elder, Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’. I grow it with Persicaria amplexicaulis and behind it are some pink asters which you can’t see in the photograph.
The large rosettes of a hardy bromeliad, Fascicularia bicolor look great at this time of the year as the inner leaves turn bright red.
As if this wasn’t enough of a party trick, sky blue flowers appear in the heart of each rosette.
You are supposed to pull off the old brown leaves to keep this plant looking good, which is easier said than done. Each leaf comes equipped with vicious spines, I suppose to deter any passing llamas in its native home, Chile. I once tried to divide an overgrown plant and I carried the scars for weeks. These plants need to be kept dry so are best in gravelly soil. I recently saw them growing in the trunks of dead tree ferns at the Henstead Exotic Garden in Norfolk. I think I might give this a try.
I will finish with a gorgeous tree which I don’t believe I have shown before and I can’t think why. It is a small tree, Koelreuteria paniculata ‘Coral Sunset’. In spring its leaves emerge a startling corally salmon colour.
Now in September the leaves are green but still keep some of their peachy colour and the stems retain their lovely deep coral colour. Next month it will go out in a blaze of colour and I will show it to you again.
So there we have it, this week I am joining The Propagator with my six leafy delights for his popular meme, Six on Saturday. Why don’t you join the party. Very soon I will post my top ten blooms for September. My posts are like buses, long gaps then they come all at once.