Wednesday, September 02, 2009
In my small patio garden, I need things to be either literally big or big in terms of impact. I have seen small dainty gardens with neat little mounds of foliage and flowers (strangely, these gardens often include a tiny patch of turf) and I have not been impressed. Not for me.
No. Tall is good, wide is good, and spectacular is preferred. Of course, I don’t have success with as much giant-sized stuff as I’d like. Large-flowered dahlias and big hibiscus don’t seem to get enough sun, and sunflowers never do well. But I can grow tall lilies, big-headed hydrangeas, other tall perennials, and lots of vines. And, with the various degrees of shade that fall almost everywhere, I depend on foliage plants. With big, big leaves.
Many of these are tropical or semi-tropical (meaning they’ll overwinter in Texas but not here). Two pics up, you see some alocasia that grow nicely inside for seven months and then go into the ground in June. There are also many types of colacasia (also shown) that I have varying success getting through the winter. One that I got from Plant Delights, the giganteum, will continue growing inside, but not all of these will.
The musa (banana plant) also has to be hauled up to the plant room in October, where it will continue to produce leaves, though slowly.
And there are some rather exotic looking hardy perennials that will give impressive foliage (without being hostas), like this boehmeria I got from Plant Delights last year. It’s about six feet tall and has strange little stringy white flowers—if that term even applies—hanging off it.
Many gardeners know the lesson of foliage. I’ve come to value it not just for the interest it brings when a plant’s flowers are gone, but even more on plants I grow for foliage alone.