Garden Bloggers Foliage Day: the Star is Rising

IMG_1394Hellebores and snowdrops may well be the stars of the woodland edge border in early spring, but from May till December the other star of the woodland edge border is Persicaria  ‘Red Dragon’ – and here be baby dragons, the new leaves emerging in a stunning coral pink with the same variegation but in different shades. I have to confess to never having noticed this rebirth before – but admittedly I couldn’t remember whether the dragon expired over winter either, which by December last year I knew he did. Wow! is all I can say…

Similarly stunning shades are evident on some of the new foliage on the roses, picking out details that may not be as obvious once the leaves green up. Here is ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’  with distinct red zig-zagged edges on the mottled red and gold fresh leaves, closer inspection of mature leaves revealing that the red edge is indeed a red edge for life:

IMG_1401Various primula cousins are showing off their neat rosettes of leaves at this time of year, so simple and yet so perfect. Clockwise from top left is P. beesiana, native primrose, a bedding primula and P. denticulata. I forgot to check the cowslips (P veris) which are seeding themselves around the streamside grass, but I daresay they will be equally perfect.

GBFDprimulasI find the emergence of buds from apparently dry sticks a thrilling process, the fresh foliage a sign of the seasonal cycle beginning yet again – so natural, so dependable. Here are two honeysuckles (sorry, didn’t check the labels), the one on the right cheekily exposing the red underside of its leaves.

GBFDhoneysuckleEqually exciting but also a relief is to find (right) new buds at the base of type 3 clematis, which have been hard pruned almost to the ground – hard to imagine at this stage that these buds signal the start of growth into climbers than can clothe a whole post or fence with leaves and blooms. This is C. texensis ‘Princess Diana’, a replacement for one that took a few years to establish but then did not seem to survive a move to the colonnade. On the left is an already orange tinted (clearer in real life) bud on a tiny potted acer, A ‘Orange Dream’.

GBFDbudsIt has been so easy to pick out foliage to photograph today to feature on Garden Bloggers Foliage Day, a meme hosted by Christina at My Hesperides Garden. Do follow the link to her blog to see what foliage she and other bloggers have in their gardens at the end of February. After taking the above photographs I seemed to spend a lot of time just rambling between bud and leaf and flower, inspecting and admiring, checking and tending and could probably have continued like that all afternoon, such is the pleasure to be had from the subtle changes at this time of year. There are stalwarts of course, foliage that provides structure and colour and texture all the year round, like ivies and epimediums and the sarcococca and fatsia, but I haven’t much in the way of evergreen shrubs. I have, however, come to appreciate the benefits of certain grasses and although I omitted to photograph the pair of tubs with the ‘pony tail’ grass Stipa tenuissima, I am also impressed by this grass which was acquired unnamed from a car boot sale but which I think is Uncinia rubra. A new stalwart, possibly – unless it is not reliably hardy?

IMG_1402

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25 Responses to Garden Bloggers Foliage Day: the Star is Rising

  1. Pauline says:

    What a beautiful pink your red dragon is, mine was struggling to survive last year, must go and have a look for it. All the new leaves are telling us that spring is almost with us, do we believe them, such a welcome sign!

  2. Chloris says:

    I am very impressed by that Persicaria ‘ Red Dragon’. I had no idea it looked so stunning at this time of the year. So many lovely things seem to be shooting. I always look forward to the different primroses coming out, I am crazy about them. Have you got any doubles?

    • Cathy says:

      I had no idea either – perhaps I haven’t cut out the dead growth before, or just not looked…. No double primroses, but I might look into sowing some different ones from seed

  3. annette2121 says:

    I have a Persicaria – Darjeeling Red, but it just looks like a pile of old leaves at the moment. I will definitely look out for ‘Red Dragon’ – the foliage is stunning. I think you are right about Uncinia Rubra – at least it looks like the picture on my plant label. My plant is more bronze than red, but I still like it – maybe it will brighten up in the summer?

    • Cathy says:

      I will look up Darjeeling Red – RD has been an absolute stunner so if DR is even half as good it would be worth having too! Does your uncinia always winter well?

      • annette2121 says:

        Well I did look back over my photos to see whether I had it before the bad spring last year, but I don’t think I did. I must have just put it in last summer and we haven’t had much cold weather at all this winter so sorry can’t help with that question. Sorry we had such a reorganisation of the garden in the last 18 months that I can’t remember when I got things.

  4. Cathy that persicaria is beautiful, I have a joe blogs version, it has some lovely autumn colour, lots of lovely new growth in your garden, Frances

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Frances. I have a small joe bloggs persicaria too – very reliable and pretty in a small sort of way, but not beautiful like Red Dragon; nevertheless it is still very welcome here.

  5. I love your dragon Cathy, what a little show-off! I inherited several Uncinia rubra, but haven’t yet worked out how to use them, the foliage seems to change colour so much, I no sooner think I have found them the perfect companions than they seem to change and suddenly it doesn’t work. I know exactly what you mean about the shear excitement to be had at this time of year just noticing all those small changes. So important to take the time to look, I think, all too soon we will be caught up in March Madness, and it will be mostly all about the flowers again.

    • Cathy says:

      I think I know what you mean about the uncinia, Janet – when I got them I was still looking for ‘red’ things for the hot borders so just bunged them in there with no real thought. Perhaps a pot may be better so they could be moved if they change theirnhair colour… I really enjoyed my delayed ramble today, inspecting the buds and noticing the littler things that wouldn’t be seen just in passing. Stopping and staring is definitely a good thing!

  6. rusty duck says:

    I have Uncinia rubra too, it’s lovely but tends to die out in the middle ungracefully so I am forever splitting and replanting it. I will be off up the bank tomorrow to inspect my Persicaria.

  7. pbmgarden says:

    Cathy, your Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ is a great feature. You have lots of fresh new symbols of spring. Susie

    • Cathy says:

      Oh thanks Susie – Red Dragon grew pretty big last year but it would take a lot to outstay its welcome. I noticed today that there are two are three ‘crowns’ so if need be I could dig one out and find a good home for it…

  8. bittster says:

    What a wonderful collection of foliage! I had no idea red dragon was so bright.
    This is an exciting time of year, isn’t it! I can’t wait for the same to happen here in much colder Pennsylvania.
    You’ve been very busy fixing streams, climbing scaffolding and enjoying snowdrops the last few days. Once again my fat fingers have unfollowed a random blog while tapping around on my phone and I’m glad to have realized it and had the chance to catch up. Glad to be back! Frank

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Frank – losing a blog happens to others too, and makes me realise I ought to check periodically too. Thanks for wanting to come back anyway! Red Dragon isn’t as bright normally – it’s just this young foliage which I have never noticed before. Never a dull moment here as I don’t sit still for long ps don’t mention The Stream…. 😉

  9. Christina says:

    Thank you for joining in with GBFD this month, and sorry to be late commenting, you seemed to get lost in the ether! New shoots are amazing I think some of the colouration is for much the same reason as autumn colour, it is a way the plant protects itself from strong light or cold.

    • Cathy says:

      I seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time yesterday commenting and answering comments – lots of people must have been busy on their blogs! That’s an interesting thought about the colouration ….

  10. Annette says:

    A grass from New Zealand whis supposed to be hardy to -5°C but it won’t get much colder where you are, will it? Red Dragon certainly lives up to his name at this time of year! I must try and get it although I prefer his tamer colours later in the year…tamed dragon that is ;). Lots to look forward to in your garden, Cathy, all of a sudden I see only stars…why is that?!

    • Cathy says:

      I don’t think I could cope with a fully grown Red Dragon if it was that colour, Annette – but still a delight to see sprouting from the base of dead twigs! Temps are not often below -5 here, so hopefully I can now think about the uncinia as a more permanent feature. I am fairly confident of stars in the woodland edge border, but elsewhere they will be sporadic, I fear – but I am working on it!

  11. Anna says:

    Oh great to see that dragon breathing fire again Cathy and babies too!

  12. croftgarden says:

    Totally outrageous – a pink dragon! Pink obviously suits your semi-tropical garden, here it goes all wimpish and gets elbowed aside by the tougher colours.
    It is amazing how location affects colour palettes, must be something to do with the light. So I will have a little voyeuristic pleasure and enjoy your soft colours.

    • Cathy says:

      Semi tropical?!! 🙂 Although I have to admit that when I first rambled this morning I felt something strange on the back of my neck – the sun, definitely with a little bit of heat (well, warmth)…. That’s an interesting thought about colour palettes in the garden – certainly noticeable in hot climes, as opposed to sub tropical climes like we have here, but please continue with your voyeurism, soft colours or otherwise.

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