Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – August 2015

Betula nigra (River Birch)

Betula nigra (River Birch)

Christina at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides hosts GBFD on the 22nd of each month to highlight the importance of foliage in our gardens. The past week has been unusually busy with little time for the garden so Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD) sneaked up on me this month.

In a side garden along the front drive Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed ) has formed long okra-like seed pods. There are two other Asclepius tuberosa in the main garden, but neither has formed the pods.  I cannot find a label for the shrub in the background—some kind of slow-grower, a juniper I think. Visible in the upper left corner is a Betula nigra (River Birch) that grows at the street just on the edge of our property.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

I like the river birch. It began dropping leaves very early this summer because of the drought. The shaggy cinnamon-red bark is characteristic of this native tree.

Bark of native tree Betula nigra (River Birch)

Bark of native tree Betula nigra (River Birch)

By the way a week ago in another part of the garden I saw my first Monarch(s) of the year. I usually see them in October here. Without a camera on two consecutive days, I watched one nectaring on remnant flowers of a Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes.’ There is something special about seeing the Monarchs that raises a feeling of gladness and appreciation.

I was recently complaining about how that Rudbeckia had been knocked over in a storm and needed to be cut back, but now I think I will leave it a bit longer.  A child of that one, the ‘Irish Eyes’ below is in the side garden just at the gate. It splayed over also after the same storm, but I managed to tie it up. It is not blooming much now but the foliage is still looking healthy. It received some extra water this summer because I was filling a nearby bird bath almost daily. In the background the river birch is visible again.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Silvery Dusty Miller has spread with wild abandon in the western border. It is easy to pull out when I finally decide “Enough,” so I let it roam this summer. It is not as attractive when it flowers so it is time to clip it back. Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ is new this year. Fresh new leaves of Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) add softness to this area.

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' (Ascot Rainbow Spurge) and Dusty Miller

Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ (Ascot Rainbow Spurge) and Dusty Miller

Thanks to Christina for hosting. Be sure to visit her to see her featured foliage and find links to other foliage highlights of other GBFD bloggers.

27 thoughts on “Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – August 2015

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      The river birch does prefer moist well-drained soil and can tolerate damp soil, but it is pretty adaptable. It invariably drops a lot of leaves if the weather turn dry, so this summer we’ve had a a constant pool of brown leaves around it, but I’ve never watered it after the first month it was planted.

      Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Matt. I’m excited the euphorbia survived its first summer in my garden. I like the river birch too. Hope yours survived the cold winter ok. This one never seems affected by the cold.

      Reply
  1. Christina

    I’ve not come across a River Birch before, I love the bark, it’s a little like Acer grisum. Is it reasonably drought tolerant? You mention that it has been losing leaves. I am envious of the beautiful Rudbeckia, I grew them for the first time this year and they are tiny, I think they need much richer soil than they have. I will try again next year.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      I had to look up Acer griseum and I love that bark. The river birch drops leaves at the first sign of dry weather. It likes moist well-drained soil and can tolerate damp soil, but it has survived some pretty dry years here. Glad you like the Rudbeckia. The insects and American Gold Finches love it.

      Reply
  2. Marian St.Clair

    I love the look of River Birch but not the mess. I had two in my previous garden and they dropped twigs and small branches constantly. I hope yours is better behaved! I’m very impressed with your Asclepias seed pods. If you get a photo when they open and the silky balloons start to fly away, I hope you will share it.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      No, mine is just as rascally as yours were Marian! We picked up sticks everyday for the much of the summer. For some reason, it has finally quit dropping them but it is losing leaves. Will try to get a picture of the Asclepias seed pods opening for you. I hope to use some in a Monday vase too.

      Reply
  3. Brian Skeys

    The river birch is very similar in appearance to Acer griseum with its cinnamon like bark.
    I like the E. Ascot Rainbow with its variegated leaves and red stems.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Hi Brian, the bark of the two trees does bear a resemblance. I wasn’t familiar with Acer griseum–lovely bark on that. The Ascot Rainbow does not stand out much where I have it planted, but is attractive when viewed up close.

      Reply
  4. casa mariposa

    Your milkweed looks great! I have fat little beetle larvae eating mine. I’m constantly squishing them so I can save them for the monarchs. Your rudbeckia isn’t R. hirta ‘Irish Eyes’. The hirtas have furry oval leaves and are much shorter. I have several different varieties in my garden. It looks like rudbeckia laciniata AKA Wild Golden Glow or Greenheaded Coneflower.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks so much for the correction! I was looking up this plant to answer a question yesterday and was puzzled the height of my plant didn’t match the descriptions I was finding online.

      Reply
  5. gardeninacity

    I love the bark on the river birch. Surprising that it likes well-drained soil given the common name. I’ve had my Cup Plant knocked around by the wind and rain. Some stalks have broken as a result of my trying to keep them staked.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Jason I often wonder if “well-drained soil” isn’t used as just a standard boilerplate for every plant. Sorry about you Cup Plant–it’s so great to have tall plants but they’re a challenge. Staking is something I put off until too late.

      Reply
  6. bittster

    Love ascot rainbow with the dusty miller but the birch photos steal the show! I stole a cutting of a dwarf variety from a friend’s garden and have my fingers crossed that it grows into something like that!

    Reply

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