Foliage Day: July, 2015

I am a flower-centric gardener, and so it is useful to be reminded that a garden is about more than blooms. Which is exactly the service performed by Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, sponsored by Christina at My Hesperides Garden. 

'Northwind' Switchgrass
‘Northwind’ Switchgrass

At this point in the summer the warm-season grasses start to assert their presence, especially the ‘Northwind’ Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum).


It makes a nice backdrop for the ‘Raspberry Wine’ Monarda.

Northern Sea Oats and  'Raspberry Wine'
Northern Sea Oats and ‘Raspberry Wine’

So does the Nothern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).

DSC_0993 Northern Sea Oats

The seed heads on the Chasmanthium have started to form, creating a sort of pointilist effect.

DSC_0318 Little Bluestem
I transplanted some clumps of thyme to fill in while the Little Bluestem matures.

And while I’m on the subject of grasses, let me show you this clump of Little Bluestem (Schizacyrium scoparium) I planted in the Lamppost Bed. There’s two ‘Jazz’, two ‘Carousel’, and two straight species. Why did I do it like this? Pure whimsy. Also behind them there’s a ‘Shenandoah’ Switchgrass that was almost shaded to death in another location. It is slowly coming back to life.

DSC_0249 Lady ferns
Lady Ferns

In addition to grasses, there are ferns that are holding up well so far this summer. Lady Ferns (Athyrium filix-femina) look pale green and delicate but they are pretty tough..

DSC_0253 wild ginger

This mystery fern makes a nice contrast to the Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense).

DSC_0260 ferns and fountain

And these ferns are happy to be located next to a small water fountain.

Ostrich Ferns
Ostrich Ferns

I committed mayhem among the Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) in order to keep them from taking over the Front Foundation Bed. The remnant seems to be getting over the shock.

DSC_0229 starry solomon's plume
Starry Solomon’s Plume

Berries are not the same as foliage, but they’re not flowers either, so I say they count. The berries on the Starry Solomon’s Plume (Smilacina stellata) are still ripening.

DSC_0266 Solomon's plume
Solomon’s Plume

Same thing with the Solomon’s Plume (Smilacina racemosa). They are a sort of copper color now, but will be bright red when ripe.

DSC_0276 Cranberrybush Viburnum

The Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum opulus var. americanum) berries are plentiful this year, and just starting to ripen.

DSC_0233 Solomon's Seal

But the Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) aren’t very fruitful, but their arching stems are appealing even so.

Great Merrybells
Great Merrybells

One last thing. Great Merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora) is generally grown for its spring flowers, but in moist soil it makes a nice ground cover.

For more foliage and garden vignettes, visit My Hesperides Garden and Annamadeit at Flutter and Hum.

50 Comments on “Foliage Day: July, 2015”

  1. I like ‘Northwind’ very much. It was a gift; I’ve divided it several times and it keeps on growing. Shenandoah is another favourite. I chose it because of the name — I grew up in Virginia and it’s nice to have a reminder of that.

  2. I have many of your foliage plants too: lady fern, wild ginger, Solomon’s seal, Northern sea oats, and little bluestem.
    What I would like to know is how vigorous is the Northwind panicum? My daughter has some type of ornamental grass that looks magnificent when green, then in full bloom and even through the winter with its swirls of white. But, I swear, she’ll need a backhoe to get it out of the ground. Its new growth is outward, leaving a non-productive center and it is a major undertaking to just trim it back each March. I now know why I don’t like ornamental grasses. Perhaps Northwind is different.

    • I’ve had my Northwind for about five years, and haven’t yet seen a dead center. I have never divided it. I believe it will make a huge clump eventually but I don’t know that it never needs dividing. I have removed large clumps of Canada Wild Rye and Northern Sea Oats and it is a MAJOR job.

  3. I really like your description of the effect the seed heads on the Chasmanthium has. In combination with the Monarda there does seem to be a kind of Pointillism. With the weight of the seed heads waving around, there’s a lot of energy in the image. Your ferns look great, even the monster one–does it play well the the Clematis? And I have a weakness for plants like those Great Merrybells. The way the leaves seem sewn through by the stems–perfoliate (had to look that up)–strikes me as funny, like a set designer who didn’t have time to glue all the leaves to stems just pulled the stems through holes in the leaves.

  4. I have a real soft spot for all of those Salomon’s Seal-y plants, and I’m also a big fan of the Merry bells. They all do pretty well in my garden, although my Polygonatum verticillatum is clearly telling me it needs more light. I love the Little blue stem grasses. This year, my clump has tripled in size! Exciting!

  5. For someone who professes not to think about foliage you have some rather fine combinations, either with other foliage or with flowers. I’m envious of your ferns, they all look like they’re really happy and thriving. Thanks so much for joining GBFD this month, Jason.

  6. Please let us know your experience with the Little Bluestem cultivars which are usually promoted for their lack of flopping late in the season. I have The Blues here and although it is lovely now, once it begins to flower and set seed it begins to lean and lay down — uck! The first season this did not happen. It appears to become more pronounced as they age. How does Jazz hold up?

  7. This post reminds me that I would like some little blue stem in my garden. I have plenty of green. I do like the sculptural look of the varying greens in the garden. Blooms are like the fancy lover that woos you with incredible gifts of color and scent just to leave you. While greens in the garden are the best kind of lover that is always there to cheer you and be your friend.

  8. Looking great, Jason, love the fern and Panicum of course. You seem to have regular rainfall looking at the lushness of your borders.By the way I’ve planted Panicum Cloud Nine this spring and look forward to seeing it develop. Fab grass

  9. I added a panicum ‘Shenandoah’ to my garden and I love it! You and I have many of the same plants. I do love your ‘Northwind’, too. Your sea oats are in a much sunnier spot than mine are. I just had to cut several large branches to give them the sun they need. Foliage is key in my shade garden since the flowers only bloom in spurts. Bowman’s root would do very well for you and has very pretty foliage.

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