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Early Flowers

Crocus Cyclamen coum Hellebore 'Merlin' Snowdrop Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Foliage Follow-Up for March 2018

Pinus contorta 'Taylor's Sunburst'
I usually do not participate in "Foliage Follow-Up" that immediately follows "Bloom Day" because I think that I don't really have any interesting foliage to photograph. Then, once I do decide to do it, I am out in the garden for hours finding one plant after another with beautiful foliage. This time of year, of course, there is actually more foliage than flowers. 

One of my goals is to have foliage year-round and here, with so many evergreens to choose from, that is an easy accomplishment. There are so many different shapes, sizes and textures, that one could easily have a gorgeous evergreen garden. Take a look at Adrian Bloom's wonderful book Gardening with Conifers for some inspiration on that front. It is one of my favorite books. I am far too scatter-brained and undisciplined to strive for such a garden so I aim for a happy medium.

One thing that evergreens cannot do though is give you that thril
ling surge of excitement in the blood when you start to see deciduous plants leafing out. There is a satisfying sense of reward, accomplishment and exhuberant renewal that makes gardening so rewarding. The plants I photographed for this post are mostly evergreen but there are a few deciduous plants included. 

But enough blathering, here are my foliage shots for March.

Euphorbia myrsinites, the Myrtle Spurge or Donkeytail Spurge, is an awesome plant that has looked good all year.

Corydalis 'Purple Leaf' has emerged from winter dormancy. It actually did not go dormant until very late summer last year. I am looking forward to the blooms this year. This is a great bloomer for shady areas.

Geranium maculatum

Heuchera 'Kassandra' has had these colorful leaves all winter. I have had mixed results with these plants but this one seems to be contented after being moved several times. :(


It took me a while to get a Mahonia in the ground. I don't know why I waited so long. I loved this plant in Alabama. This is Mahonia 'Charity', still very small but it has been blooming and they provide a great source of food for hummingbirds during the winter.

Potentilla 'Fireball'. I have never grown these before, not sure what to expect.

Rose 'Mutabilis' has survived the winter with flying colors. It took me several attempts in Alabama to keep this one alive. 

Viburnum awabuki. I got this at Joy Creek Nursery to help with screening along our back border. It is still very small but growing nicely. 

Sedum 'Angelina'

Deschampsia flexuosa 'Aurea' (Tatra Gold) aka Crinkled Hair Grass. I got this at Yard n' Garden Land last year and I love it. 

Despite its less-than-stellar reputation, Red-Tip Photinia does have some admirable characteristics such as the blood-red new growth. We inherited an entire hedge of this along our back border. It give us the needed privacy from the neighbors but it is in need of rejuvenation. They are pretty much the size of small trees now. I am not sure how to go about this.

Euonymous albomarginatus - another inherited shrub that is really nice.
Visit Pam at Digging to see what is going on in her Austin, Texas garden and to find links to more blogger's gardens.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. My goodness, you do have some gorgeous foliage. I have never seen or heard of Cordyalis Purple Leaf. I wonder if it would grow here?? I will look it up.

  2. The introduction to your post made me smile as I always have trouble seeing the foliage for the flowers in my own garden. You have a beautiful foliage collection. I wish conifers were happier in my own area. That Corydalis is just gorgeous but that genus too is just not happy in coastal Southern California under our current drought conditions.

  3. You do have a lot of lovely leafage going on there, Phillip. Thanks for joining in! By the way, I couldn't help wondering when I read this -- "Rose 'Mutabilis' has survived the winter with flying colors. It took me several attempts in Alabama to keep this one alive." -- Is it a lot easier to garden in the PNW than in the hot and humid South? I imagine so, but perhaps depends on what you're growing. Pam/Digging:

    1. Pam, I think it is, mainly because we don't have the wild temperature fluctuations that we did in Alabama. It could also get much colder there. I think that can happen here as well but so far not. Here, I find the dry summers very challenging. That is something totally foreign to me.

  4. You found some beautiful foliage to share! If I'm not mistaken, Red-Tip Photinia can be cut back really hard to rejuvenate without doing any damage. It's one of those pretty much indestructible hedging plants, like English laurel. You should check out some more conifers, there are some that have new growth that is so colorful it almost looks like flowers.

  5. Yes, Phillip, hack that photinia down to the height that you want and then worry about how to get rid of the yard debris. It will fill in and live on, probably forever. I love your foliage pictures. I spent the afternoon working out in the garden and seeing new leaves breaking out of the bud form is thrilling. Lots and lots of weeds, too, but it was wonderful to see the new growth coming. It seems like your garden has taken shape quickly, but I know that's because you've put in a lot of hard work.

  6. Love the glossy foliage on that Viburnum!


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