Foliage Follow Up in September

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Our garden in Kigali, Rwanda, this morning. This is an area at the end of our front terrace, composed of mostly tropical foliage plants and shaded by a large red-blooming Mussaenda erythrophylla. Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Follow Up the 16th of every month.

imagine it as one of those survivors in the old
swamps, shadowed by the grown, light-headed conifers…

Alan Dugan, from “Philodendron

Foliage Follow Up: Eden’s curls

Our garden in Kigali/enclos*ure: the cycad's new leavesOne of our cycad’s new leaves — there’s more about this plant here.

Our cycad is a sago palm or Cycas revoluta, a species of gymnosperm with origins in the Mesozoic era.  Revoluta refers to the “curled back” leaves.

A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. . .

— Gerard Manley Hopkins, from “Spring

Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Follow Up is the 16th of every month. Check out more beautiful leaves at Digging.

Foliage Follow Up: my rosemary hedge

I’m a bit late, but I did want to show off my 25 rosemary plants (on the left, below), which grew from cuttings that I took from a single big old plant that was in the garden when we arrived here.

Foliage Follow Up for December/enclos*ure: rosemary(Especially since the gardener expressed grave doubts at the time that they would root and grow.)

The photo above shows the passage between the vegetable garden on the left and the cutting garden on the right, walking toward the south end of the upper lawn.

By the way, that huge, dark green tree in the upper left corner is what your potted weeping fig would look like over time — in the ground, in a constantly warm climate.

I started the cuttings about 18 months ago.*  Now the plants are 2′ to 3′ tall,

Foliage Follow Up for December/enclos*ure: rosemaryexcept at the very end, on the left above.  Those plants — which will finish out the row — are about 6 months old.

Foliage Follow Up for December/enclos*ure: rosemaryAbove, on the left, is the mother plant.  Just to the right of it is a little patch of alpine strawberries, which I grew from a packet of seeds.

Foliage Follow Up for December/enclos*ure: alpine strawberriesI divided them recently, so they look a bit skimpy.  The tiny fruit does have a more pronounced and almost perfume-y taste, compared with larger strawberries.

Foliage Follow Up for December/enclos*ure: black-eyed susan seedlingAs I am giving you  a couple of my success stories, I should also show you the flip side — above.

This is the one Rudbeckia hirta or black-eyed Susan to germinate out of an entire packet of seeds — a plant that has a reputation for generous self-seeding.  I have big hopes for it, though.  It’s a pretty showy native American plant.

Thanks to Pam at Digging, who hosts Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Follow Up on the 16th of every month. Click  here and see what’s happening in other gardens.

*I cut pieces that were a little or not quite woody, stripped the ends of leaves, and stuck them in a slightly sunken, slightly shaded place.  Then, I kept the ground there damp for a few months.  After I transplanted them, I was also careful to water the new plants almost daily for a few weeks.

Creeping fig

Rosamond Carr’s cottage in the Virunga hills is covered in creeping fig or Ficus pumila. The plant (along with the nice windows and the stone steps) turned a little square box into something really charming.

The Orangery of Dumbarton Oaks is also draped with a wonderful specimen, which was planted in its northwest corner in the 1860s.

Creeping fig in the Orangery of Dumbarton Oaks. Click the photo to enlarge it.
Built in 1810, the Orangery was undergoing renovation last summer.

Creeping fig will survive outdoors in (U.S.) zones 8 – 11.  It is native to east Asia.

Growing up a tree in our Kigali garden.

The plant is not fussy about its conditions, but does need consistently moist soil.  Very fast growing, its aerial roots will adhere to anything, even metal and glass. All the sources I consulted warned against letting it attach to a wooden structure. With brick or concrete, it should be grown on something designed to support the plant forever, as the little rootlets will be very hard to remove if you later want a bare surface.

The fruit of the ‘Awkeotsong’ variety is used to make aiyu jelly in Taiwan (and ice jelly in Singapore). But several websites warned that all parts of the plant are poisonous. It may be that the processing technique makes the jelly safe to eat.

Since you inquire about creepers and ficus pumila,
They sum up the mood of a dweller in the wilds;
Respectfully visiting you in calf’s muzzle breeks* with a dove-headed walking stick.

— Ruan Dacheng, Chinese poet (1587-1646)

Thanks to Pam at Digging for  hosting Foliage Follow Up today (always the 16th of the month).

* “. . . a kind of shorts, or possibly a kilt, associated with a casual way of life in ancient times.”