Six on Saturday. Lovely leaves.

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.

Nandina domestica

I think  purple- leaved Nandina domestica ‘Plum Passion’  is gorgeous.

Nandina domestica ‘Plum Passion’

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.

Nandina domestica”Blush Pink’

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.

Tagetes lemmonii ‘Martin’s Mutant’

I love it with an airy Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ behind it.

Tagetes lemmonii ‘Martin’s Mutant’

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.

Coprosma ‘Karo’s red’

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.

Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’

The large rosettes of a hardy bromeliad, Fascicularia bicolor look great at this time of the year as the inner leaves turn bright red.

Fascicularia bicolor

As if this wasn’t enough of a party trick, sky blue flowers appear in the heart of each rosette.

Fascicularia bicolor

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.

Koelreuteria panicula ‘Coral Sunset’ Spring 2017

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.

Koelreuteria paniculata ‘Coral Sunset’

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.


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49 Responses to Six on Saturday. Lovely leaves.

  1. March Picker says:

    Chloris, you have an amazing variety of plants. I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I enjoyed your post about your new, tropical garden, too. I didn’t know I could appreciate Nandina until I saw your ‘Blush Pink’ — such a beauty. You’ve paired your elderberry with great companions. I’d love a photo of the pink asters with it. You’re an inspiration.

  2. mrsdaffodil says:

    Wonderful story about telling nightmares to the Nandina. No apologies necessary!

  3. Jim Stephens says:

    I think you’re selling straight Nandina domestica short a bit, a good one can be a fine thing. I’ve had two or three Coprosmas for several years and they have come through winters best when they’ve become quite hard and mean in pots. Planting in the ground seems to lead to better but softer growth which is more frost tender. They seem incredibly tolerant of poor nutrition in a pot, ie not potted on for 3 or 4 years, perhaps that’s how they’d fare best in the ground.

    • Chloris says:

      You are right, I have seen beautiful specimens of Nandina domestica in other people’s gardens with lovely flowers and berries, but my ordinary one always seems to underwhelm.
      Ah, that’s where I am going wrong with my coprosmas; killing them with kindness.

  4. Cathy says:

    A hardy bromeliad, Chloris! How wonderful. I have to say I was a bit sad when I read about ‘Black Lace’, since mine seems to have just kicked the bucket and I remember you telling me that the elderflower champagne it produced was also pink. Never got to that stage. Love your posts (when I am ‘into the game’) for teaching me new plants. That tagetes has really pretty foliage – I suspect it might not mind dry conditions. What do you think?

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. Yes indeed, this hardy terrestrial bromeliad would do well in your garden. It seems drought proof.
      Sorry to hear about your elder. Do you think it died of drought? They seem pretty unkillable here.
      ‘Martin’s Mutant’ might survive dry conditions, if you could get hold of one you could take cuttings as a precaution.

      • Cathy says:

        I will try it Chloris, since I’m currently looking for plants just like it. Yes, the elder is sad, and yes, it is probably the drought (although I was amazed, because elder do seem to do well here – but then ‘Black Lace’ won’t be as tough, will it?) I shall look out for ‘Martin’s Mutant’

  5. tonytomeo says:

    We planted my first ‘Black Lace’ elderberry this year. I am not yet sure if I like it or not. It is pretty in the landscape that it went into. However, I want elderberries to make berries. The native blue elderberry is quite productive.

    • Chloris says:

      I love S.Black Lace. I have another black one, Sambucus nigra which is not lacy. The elderflower cordial which I make with the flowers comes out pink.

      • tonytomeo says:

        I would not have procured our ‘Black Lace’ elderberry because I was not convinced that it would make many berries. My colleague got it. Now that it is in a landscape, we would not take the berries anyway. They are rather pretty and attract doves.

  6. Kris P says:

    Nice collection! I inherited a host of Nandina domestica with the garden but none have the interesting coloration of your ‘Plum Passion’ or ‘Blush Pink’ (and all are badly in need of a good pruning). I’ve planted quite a few Coprosmas but, while they’re hardy here, I find most don’t retain their color in the long-term, which is very annoying – ‘Plum Hussey’ seems to be the sole exception. That bromeliad is utterly new to me and you can bet I’ll be on the look-out for it.

    • Chloris says:

      I have noticed that the nandinas I see on American blogs always look much better than mine. Plum Passion and Blush Pink are winners though, such lovely foliage.
      I didn’t realise that coprosmas don’t keep their colour even if they survive. What a pity, I love their glossy leaves.
      Yes, Fascicularia bicolor would be great for your garden.

  7. janesmudgeegarden says:

    What an interesting collection of leafiness, Chloris. I did enjoy reading about Nandina and its background, and I think ‘Blush Pink’ would be a good addition to my garden for winter colour, if I can get hold of one. We have Koelreuteria bipinnata planted in our town and they look spectacular in the Autumn with salmon pink seed capsules. The Coprosma is desirable too. I’ve always thought they were hardy, but my pink one is struggling to come back from the heavy frost we had and I hesitate to plant any more.

    • Chloris says:

      Lovely for you emerging into spring time, what delights ahead for you. I love September but the thought of approaching winter weighs heavily.
      Coprosma sounds thoroughly miffy. I don’t know whether it’s worth wasting effort on such a prima donna.

  8. Heyjude says:

    I really enjoy reading about plant history and associated folklore. I quite fancied a Nandina domestica as I thought they turned a pretty red in autumn. I didn’t realise there were different types. Toothpicks could be useful. And the Coprosma is very desirable. Now to see if they like shade and are S&S resistant.

    • Chloris says:

      There are some wonderful new nandinas around, it’s worth doing a bit of research before you buy. Coprosmas might survive your milder winters but I’m reserving judgement on them until I see how this one gets through the coming winter.

  9. Christina says:

    Great choices, I have Nandina in my garden, I like your variations too but ive found that in my climate the ones with larger leaves don’t cope with drought as well as the species. They are also mostly sterile which may be a plus or minus depending on where you live.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Christina. I miss your monthly foliage meme, it really encouraged bloggers to focus on their leaves; such an important element of the garden. I can’t imagine a forest of nandinas, it might be rather nice. I have seen another one called ‘Obsession’ which I rather think I need. Did you enjoy Wisley?

      • Christina says:

        Wisely really showed the effects of a hot summer. It is always interesting but to be honest I’ve never seen it looking so bad. Strangely enough the worst part was the Pete Oudolf borders.

  10. That Fascicularia is amazing! Did I copy that correctly? What an interesting Six.

  11. Chloris says:

    Thank you. Yes, that’s what it’s called. It comes from the Latin ‘fasciculus’ meaning ‘bundle’. It’s worth looking out for.

  12. Chloris, this was my favorite post on SOS this Saturday! I loved all your Nandina and my favorite plant was Martin’s Mutant! Wow! Thank you also for sharing the shrub book. I went online and ordered it for my winter garden reading A Great SOS!

  13. Lovely, Nandinias are going over to invasives here, though I love them. I am dreaming of a vase of Martin’s Mutant with Heavy Metal Panicum and the Bromeliad….

  14. beautiful foliage, plants and flowers thank you Chloris – One of the reasons I love reading all the gardening bloggers I learn so much – went off to look up Nandina to see if it would suit in our tiny garden 🙂 stunning leaf colour change 🙂 thank you. Have a lovely week. Love Bec 🙂

  15. cavershamjj says:

    I have a boring old nandina but it is in either berry or flower or both pretty much all year, it is now a good 6′ tall. I have seen a few different nandinas and yours do look very colourful. I also had a black lace but it got very big and floppy, I got cheesed off with it and ejected it. I have a cutting I could use to replace but not sure I want it back. Maybe in a big pot? What is the lovely pink flower next to your unusual tagetes?

  16. Cathy says:

    What lovely nandinas – I have Obsession and another (new one) I can’t remember the name of without checking, but I am most taken with your Blush Pink. She is probably blushing at the sight of your mutant oddity which is a very strange thing indeed! Thanks as always for a really interesting post

  17. Peter Herpst says:

    I don’t know which I liked more, the gorgeous foliage or the interesting stories. I’ll seek out Nandina ‘Blush Pink’ and the cool mutant Tagetes lemmonii ‘Martin’s Mutant.’ Love the fragrance of tagetes lemmonii!

  18. Pingback: Colour Me Beautiful…Addendum | Rambling in the Garden

  19. bittster says:

    I’m afraid that after such a wonderful post my head is swirling with plants and relatives of those plants, all of which are likely just short of being hardy in my location. Fortunately ‘Coral Sun’ is tough enough, and I may have already sourced a plant… we will see if the order is placed…
    The straight species seems a bit of a reseeding thug so I was pleased to read that the fancier version rarely blooms.

    • Chloris says:

      You like colourful foliage so I am sure you will enjoy K. ‘Coral Sunset’. They never seed around here, but then they don’t bloom until they are mature and then only in good summers.

  20. Most interesting. I didn’t even guess that there were multiple Nandinas. Plum passion looks especially great.

  21. Love the berries on the Sambucus. Also that red Nandina foliage – very nice!

  22. Lora Hughes says:

    Thanks for the 3 = 1 about nandina. Gives a good overview to decide which one to grow. Or, as in your garden, whether you’d like all of them. You’ve got some wonderful colour throughout the garden, but like yourself, Martin’s Mutant does have me interested.

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